In a state media interview with propaganda mouthpiece TodayOnline yesterday (Oct 27), Senior Minister of State Edwin Tong threatened to take actions against Singaporeans criticising the government on any platform and clarified that the new “fake news” law will apply to social media platforms including Facebook comments, personal blogs and even emails:
“So, you can call yourself a social media site, a blog, or you can just post an email and publicise it. If it’s false and has an intended outreach online, then that should be caught.”
The former lawyer of fraudster pastor Kong Hee, Minister Edwin Tong, said the new censorship laws will give the ruling party dictatorship powers to block any content they dislike.
Minister Edwin Tong also added that he will be making changes to the Protection of Harassment Act (POHA) after a court ruling stated that a public institution like the government, should be open to public criticisms and not be suing members of the public for “harassment”. The S$1.1 million-a-year PAP Minister then challenged “anyone” or the opposition Workers’ Party to debate in the ruling party-dominated Parliament if they are unhappy with the new changes:
“Freedom of speech does not give one the licence to propagate falsehoods. But on this, let’s not be presumptive. If there’s going to be an amendment at that stage, we can always look at it, and if WP or anyone else thinks it is not appropriate because it stifles freedom of speech, we can deal with it in Parliament.”
Like other third world non-democratic countries, the Singapore ruling party denounce any negative news or articles critical of the government as “fake news”. Government propaganda published on the state media, and misleading statements by the ruling party politicians are however protected from the law, as public prosecution is solely decided by the current Attorney General, who is also Lee Hsien Loong’s former private lawyer Lucien Wong.
Prior to the abuse of the term “fake news”, the ruling party leaders would often file defamation civil lawsuits against critics, and bankrupting them in the process. The Singapore government would also abuse its existing legislation, like using the loosely-defined Sedition Act, to jail its writers and news publishers.