Openly lying at the Select Committee’s hearing, Singapore’s state media claimed that they are “serious journalism” and independent from the ruling party’s influence.

Singapore’s state media, comprising of Mediacorp and Singapore’s Press Holdings, are collectively ranked 151st in the world for credibility. The shameful ranking puts Singapore media among the third world nations like Iraq and North Korea, but the editors representing the two propaganda state media, senior editors of Mediacorp and editor of Straits Times, protested insisting they are not biased:

“Over the last five, 10 years we’ve tried extremely hard to be fair, balanced and objective because we see our role as not trying to play up one party or the other, but to give our readers as much information as they can to make decisions for themselves. If we were biased, we would be clearly called out on social media. It would backfire and affect our credibility, so we wouldn’t be inclined to do that. I don’t think it does anybody any service if we tried to … it would be a disservice to our readers, a disservice to our journalists, and ultimately I think a disservice to Singapore.”

The propagandists also said that the internet is the reason why trust in the mainstream media has fallen, and called for the government to impose more censorship on the internet “to level the playing field with the mainstream media”:

“Before the social media advent, there were far fewer brands of news sources. These were larger, more dominant and enjoyed a higher degree of trust. The significant fragmentation of the audience has left them with a significantly wider choice… We are judged now quite differently by the expectations of an audience that has moved on significantly, and we have to fight to earn their trust on a daily basis now… There is the need for legislation – either new or amended, and for the likes of social media channels and instant messaging platforms such as Facebook, Google, Whatsapp, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter and more. The onus must be put on them, to take responsibility for the content they choose to publish and promote. They should be required to act faster when falsehoods spread on their platforms, and to disclose the identities of creators of deliberate falsehoods. Any legislation … should require social networks and media websites with a significant reach to establish a monitoring or complaints mechanism that will allow them to be swiftly alerted to fake, offending or otherwise prohibited content. They should then be required to remove such content within a short but reasonable timeframe, and be subjected to an impactful fine for any failure to do so.”

State media Mediacorp’s ChannelNewsAsia (CNA) called for the government to enforce compulsory takedowns, corrections issued to platforms, ordered clarifications by the source and public education efforts aimed at addressing specific “falsehoods”.

CNA’s chief editor of online news Jaime Ho said the government is “arbiter of truth” and the government can decide what to ban:

“On many occasions, the Government could be one of the key arbiters of what is truth or what is not truth in these particular instances. So when we do need to fact-check and verify, what’s crucial then would be for the Government to be able to work as quickly as possible with the media, and to put out the correct information as quickly as possible.”