Edwin Tong; PAP

In an interview with propaganda mouthpiece TodayOnline, Senior Minister of State Edwin Tong has called Singaporeans ignorant when it comes to understanding “fake news”. The PAP Minister then praised his own committee for demonising “fake news” and exaggerating its effects:

“Singaporeans are not naive about online falsehoods, but there is a degree of complacency among them and they don’t understand how fast falsehoods can spread and the damage this can cause. Prior to the hearings conducted by the 10-member Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods earlier this year,  the average Singaporean might have little understanding on how online falsehoods can be weaponised. I’ll be very candid to say that, even for myself, prior to the hearings, I wasn’t so exposed to the extent to which online falsehoods have been used around the world.”

The S$1.1 million-a-year PAP Minister then exaggerated his claims saying that overseas news media are instigating violence and riots in Singapore:

“I cannot reveal details for national security reasons, but there are a couple of takeaways. The perpetrators are not small-time actors, but are state-linked and use highly sophisticated and advanced methods. Their target: Creating rifts within a society through divisive issues such as race, religion and politics. Based overseas, the perpetrators use online platforms to instigate a riot, to slowly feeding false information to create news that are outright false and inflammatory with a viral effect.”

The senior counsel who recently profited millions from defending fraudster pastor Kong Hee however was unable to bring out a local example, and pointed to Indonesia as example. The last riot in Singapore was in 2013, triggered by “alcohol” according to the government. With the exception of online pranks about fallen HDB buildings, there has been few incidents of online fake news under Singapore’s stringent censorship regime. The Singapore dictatorship however adopted the Donald Trump’s political antic of labelling criticisms as “fake news”, and proposed new laws to ban criticisms against the government.

Minister Edwin Tong then added that he wishes to see new censorship laws take effect as quick as possible:

“We have set out what we want to target, there is a need to find a consensus on how to deal with it and implement the measures quickly given the threats posed by online falsehoods. And I don’t just mean legislation, I mean the spectrum of measures the committee has proposed. All across the board, I think we should start that now. The quicker the better.”

The PAP Minister then pretended to seek public feedback by claiming that he does not want to implement a law without getting views from the people:

“Soliciting public feedback before implementing the measures is necessary. We don’t want to move in a way which is so quick that people don’t have the chance to give their views.”

What Minister Edwin Tong deliberately left out, is that the government would still implement whatever policy regardless of people’s views or opposition.

Minister Edwin Tong then attacked Twitter, using an extreme example, accusing the US social media company does not know what is appropriate content. The PAP Minister then concluded that the government should implement harsh measures against the social media companies:

“Twitter’s representative, for instance, was questioned on the company’s refusal to remove a cartoon depicting a group of male, ethnic minority migrants tying up and abusing a semi-naked white woman while stabbing her baby to death. The company had argued that it did not breach its hateful conduct policy. This shows measures introduced need to have some teeth.”

The corrupted PAP Minister then lastly stated his intention to give the government “the right to do what we want” claiming that the government represents society:

“If we can’t find consensus, then ultimately, we as a Government has the responsibility to ensure that our society is protected from certain types of influences. I think, we as a Government and we as a society, should look at our own social mores, norms (and) attitudes, and we should have the right to decide what we want.”