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19 May 2019
Ministry of Law
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Worrisome features about POFMA

I attended a forum organised by Function 8 about POFMA, the fake news law. 

The panelists point out the following worrisome features about POFMA:

a) The govt can exempt certain people from the law. They have already taken the decision to exempt ministers. 

A speaker pointed out that the law should apply to everybody and nobody should be exempted - even minister. Does this mean that a minister can make a falsehood and be exempted from the legal consequence?

b) Any appeal against the decision of the minister has to be made to the minister in the first place, before it can be sent to the court. There is no time limit required by the minister to reply. He can sit on the matter forever, and prevent the appeal from going to court. 

c) In other countries, a similar law is passed to address specific problems, such as terrorism and hate news against a racial or religious group. 

In Singapore, POFMA is targeted against "falsehoods". It can be applied to restrict criticism against govt policies and actions. It can be used for political purposes against people who hold different political views. It can be abused to keep the ruling party in power by creating obstacles for opposing parties.

I was not fully aware of these three points. It makes our law quite one sided and unfair. The govt narrative did not address these points adequately. 

We have to express our opposition to POFMA in various ways, e.g. to sign a petition against the law.

Tan Kin Lian

Vote - do you agree that POFMA is a bad law and can cause more harm than good?


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