Legal challenge to Singapore misinformation law rejected

The Singaporean government insists the misinformation law is necessary to stop falsehoods from circulating online that could sow divisions in the multi-ethnic, multi-faith country. (AFP)
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Updated 05 February 2020

Legal challenge to Singapore misinformation law rejected

  • Law slammed by rights groups and tech giants, including Facebook, who claim it curbs free speech
  • Government insists the misinformation law is necessary to stop falsehoods from circulating online

SINGAPORE: The first legal challenge to Singapore’s law against online misinformation was rejected Wednesday, a blow to opponents who say it is being used to stifle dissent before elections.
The controversial legislation gives authorities the power to order corrections be placed next to posts they deem false.
It has been slammed by rights groups and tech giants, including Facebook, who claim it curbs free speech.
Since the law came into force in October, several opposition figures and activists have been ordered to place a banner next to online posts stating they contain inaccurate information.
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), one of a handful of small opposition groups in the country, mounted the challenge after a government minister told it to correct three online posts about employment.
The posts, on Facebook and the party’s website, said many Singaporeans had been displaced from white-collar jobs by foreigners — claims the government said were “false and misleading.”
Immigration is a hot-button issue in the city-state, where the government is regularly criticized for the large presence of foreign workers.
But the High Court dismissed the challenge, with Justice Ang Cheng Hock ruling that the SDP’s statements were “false in the face of the statistical evidence against them.”
“The appellant has not challenged the accuracy of the statistical evidence, and has instead sought to critique it on other grounds,” he added.
The government insists the misinformation law is necessary to stop falsehoods from circulating online that could sow divisions in the multi-ethnic, multi-faith country.
But political activists and opposition parties such as the SDP say it is being used to suppress criticism ahead of elections, expected to be called within months.
While it is praised for its economic management, affluent Singapore’s government is also regularly criticized for curbing civil liberties.
The People’s Action Party has ruled Singapore for decades and looks set to comfortably win the next polls, with a fragmented opposition seen as little threat.


Publicis Groupe veteran Kamal Dimachkie leaves as new successor is named

Updated 20 October 2020

Publicis Groupe veteran Kamal Dimachkie leaves as new successor is named

  • Dimachkie’s career spans three decades of leadership and accomplishment in international and regional markets
  • Shoueiry founded the agency’s Social Content Lab and played a key role in cultivating digital design thinking across the region

RIYADH: Publicis Groupe MEA today announced the departure of Kamal Dimachkie, chief operating officer, Publicis Communications, UAE and Lower Gulf. Dimachkie is a senior executive who joined Leo Burnett in February 1985. The company has appointed Samer Shoueiry to assume the role in conjunction with his current responsibilities as chief digital officer, Publicis Communications, Middle East from Dec. 1. Dimachkie’s decision to leave comes after 33 years with the company. He will leave his current position on Dec. 31 and continue to act in a consultative capacity until June 2021 in order to ensure a smooth transition.

Dimachkie’s career spans three decades of leadership and accomplishment in international and regional markets including the US, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE.

Raja Trad, executive chairman at Publicis Groupe MEA said: “I respect Kamal’s decision. He has been a friend and a colleague for over three decades, and not just I but the entire Publicis Groupe family will miss him. His tenure at the Groupe has been characterized by a clear commitment to values that are central to our philosophy. Kamal’s adept leadership propelled the agency to new heights — we won more than 250 accolades and added numerous international and local clients to our roster. I want to thank him for his immeasurable contribution to the Groupe and wish him all the best for his professional future.”

Dimachkie added: “Leo Burnett and Publicis Groupe have been my life for the past 33 years, and I am proud to have been a part of a glorious journey during which I have had the opportunity to serve the company in different roles in six countries, to have contributed to numerous clients and raised the bar internally and within the industry. Part of this has been the joy of working with a wonderful team and leadership, whom I have partnered with, learnt from and shall forever call my friends and brothers in arms. I am grateful to have lived the glory days of advertising with one of the best agencies in the world and to have worked with some of the most inspiring and creative people. I look forward to working with Samer on the upcoming transition and wish him success in his new role.”

Shoueiry, who will take on Dimachkie’s role, has over 21 years of experience across business, design and innovation. He has consistently delivered a robust performance in Publicis’ Experience Design and Experience Strategy, founded the agency’s Social Content Lab and played a key role in cultivating digital design thinking across the region.

Commenting on his appointment, Trad said: “Samer has a record of leadership and value creation, deep experience in generating groundbreaking brand experiences, as well as a focus on strategic design, innovation excellence and a strong technological footing. I look forward to continuing to work closely with him to drive our digital transformation in the region and support the spread of innovation through investments in our people, technology, platforms and tools. Together, we will ensure that we continue to move our business forward in the Connected Age through a data-led, digital-first approach.”

Shoueiry further added: “Kamal has built a strong foundation for future growth, including strengthening our team and expanding our scope of work. The current climate has accelerated digital transformation globally, and we are looking at a future where online and offline coexist to augment consumer experience in an interconnected brand universe. E-commerce is a necessity, digital equities are your flagship stores, search and social your new outdoor. With this new beginning, I will focus on further strengthening our creative strategy-to-results development to offer the best consumer-centric experiences and build brand value.”