Singapore invokes ‘fake news’ law for first time over Facebook post

Singapore political figure Brad Bowyer placed a correction notice with a link to the government statement above his Facebook post following a request to do so under the country’s new ‘fake news’ law. (AFP)
Updated 25 November 2019

Singapore invokes ‘fake news’ law for first time over Facebook post

  • Political figure Brad Bowyer used ‘false and misleading’ statements alleging the government influenced decisions made by state investors Temasek Holdings and GIC

SINGAPORE: Singapore political figure Brad Bowyer on Monday corrected a Facebook post questioning the independence of state investment firms following a government request, in the first use of the country’s new “fake news” law.
Bowyer used “false and misleading” statements alleging the government influenced decisions made by state investors Temasek Holdings and GIC, according to a statement on the official government fact-checking website.
Bowyer said he had placed a correction notice with a link to the government statement above his Facebook post following a request to do so under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).
“I have no problem in following that request as I feel it is fair to have both points of view and clarifications and corrections of fact when necessary,” Bowyer said in a statement on Facebook.
“In general, I caution all those who comment on our domestic politics and social issues to do so with due care and attention especially if you speak from any place of influence.”
Bowyer, a naturalized Singaporean born in Britain, has been a member of the ruling party and opposition parties but has never stood for elected office.
A spokesman for the newly-created POFMA office said the correction requested by the minister for finance was the first case under the new law, which came into effect in October.
Rights groups have raised concerns the fake news law will be used to stifle free speech and chill dissent in the city state, where the ruling party has comfortably won every election since independence in 1965.
Singapore says it is particularly vulnerable to fake news because of its position as a global financial hub, its mixed ethnic and religious population and widespread Internet access.


Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

Updated 20 October 2020

Thailand suspends TV station over protests coverage

  • Thailand said on Monday that three other media organizations are under investigation
  • Protests have only gained momentum since the government announced a ban last Thursday and arrested dozens of protesters

BANGKOK: A Thai court on Tuesday ordered the suspension of an online TV station critical of the government, which has accused it of violating emergency measures aimed at ending three months of protests.
Voice TV had also been found to have breached the Computer Crime Act by uploading “false information,” digital ministry spokesman Putchapong Nodthaisong told reporters.
Thailand has drawn criticism from rights groups for banning demonstrations and the publication of news seen as damaging by the government as it tries to end the protests against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and the powerful monarchy.
Rittikorn Mahakhachabhorn, Editor-in-Chief of Voice TV, said it would continue broadcasting until the court order arrived.
“We insist that we have been operating based on journalistic principles and we will continue our work presently,” he said.
Thailand said on Monday that three other media organizations are under investigation.
Voice TV is owned in part by the Shinawatra family of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck, who was overthrown by Prayuth in a 2014 coup. Both fled Thailand to escape corruption cases they branded political.
Street protests since mid-July are the biggest challenge in decades to the monarchy under King Maha Vajiralongkorn and to Prayuth, who rejects accusations of engineering an election last year to keep power.
The demonstrations have been largely led by youths and students in contrast with a decade of street violence between supporters of Thaksin and conservative royalists before Prayuth seized power.
Protests have only gained momentum since the government announced a ban last Thursday and arrested dozens of protesters, including many of the main leaders.
A lawyer for two of them, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, said they would be arrested again on Tuesday as soon as they had been freed on bail granted by a court over earlier charges related to the protests.
Prime Minister Prayuth has said he will not quit in the face of the protests.
His cabinet agreed on Tuesday to hold an emergency session of parliament next week about the crisis. Prayuth’s supporters hold a majority in the parliament, whose upper house was named entirely by his former junta.