Photo of Parliament from Straits Times

In what seems like too good a deal to be true, the Singapore Select Committee yesterday (Mar 27) announced that their invite to Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) “still stands” and they are happy to wait for the two international freedom advocacy groups to send in their representative.

The invite however is most likely a guise for the dictatorship to charge the representative for falsehoods. The HRW and RSF has earlier published a condemning report, titled “Kill the chicken to silence the monkeys”, and labelled the comprehensive 192-page document that wrote extensively on Singapore legislation as “fake news”.

The HRW has earlier rejected attending the Singapore hearing and slammed Law Minister K Shanmugam for his “irrelevant and ridiculous” accusation claiming that their absence is a sign of their report is “indefensible”.

The RSF wrote on it’s website pointing out a consultation on the PAP-controlled Parliament is a waste of time:

“Given the alarming legislative precedents in the city-state, RSF shares the deep concern that Singaporean defenders of the freedom to inform have expressed about this proposed law, which they suspect will be yet another tool for censoring dissent. We take note of the declared desire of Singapore’s authorities to listen to civil society’s views. Unfortunately, with the ruling party controlling 80% of the parliament, we fear that this law will be adopted without any real debate and without any significant amendments, which means this consultation would be pointless.”

RSF also criticised the Select Committee for being a hypocrite by conducting consultations without first putting up a draft bill:

“Doubting the sincerity of an invitation to address a parliamentary select committee that is supposedly helping Singapore’s government to draft a bill to combat “deliberate online falsehoods,” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) will instead submit its recommendations when it has seen a draft.”

Read the full RSF response here.