As Lee Hsien Loong commence his plot to unseat the opposition Aljunied MPs, Singapore’s 153rd-ranking state media is ramping up on fake news propaganda to provide support for the government’s prosecution. Leading the propaganda effort is national newspaper Straits Times, which had resorted to outright falsehoods directly infringing the country’s repressive contempt of court law. The law of course does not apply to Straits Times or any other pro-government mouthpiece.
In its article on Friday (Oct 5), Straits Times committed contempt of court by delivering the verdict for the Singapore judge with its headline titled:
“AHTC trial: WP MPs created system where ‘checks and balances were thrown to the wind’ by appointing FMSS”
In its offending article, Straits Times published only quotes from the leading prosecutor Davinder Singh and misled readers into believing the statements were made by the presiding judge as a closing conclusion for the trial.
The Contempt of Court legislation warrant a maximum of S$100,000 fine and 3 years’ jail sentence.
Since Independence, fake news have been widely used as a political tool to propagandise the public, according to Oxford historian Dr Thum Ping Tjin. Propaganda by the government-controlled media had also led to violence in the past, most notably the racial riots in 1960s, where different races were incited by the then-incumbent Malaysian and British government to consolidate political powers. In the 2015 trial of Amos Yee, the teenager was slapped by a ruling party supporter who were grossly misinformed by local propaganda reports demonising the youtuber.
The effects of government propaganda in recent years have however been diminished, no thanks to the rise of independent news sites like States Times Review. Singaporeans are now better informed from reading States Times Review, as compared to having to rely on the government newspapers for news. The Singapore government is however unhappy with Singaporeans becoming critical thinkers and cross checking the content of the propaganda papers, and they are currently implementing new censorship laws to block access to non-government news media under the guise of “fake news”.