To be honest, I’m quite disappointed with what WP did during the recent debate on POFMA, or what is more commonly known as Singapore’s fake news law.
Why? Because they are so obviously, almost shamelessly, politicising the issue of fake news!
Over the past few days, the WP MPs have been suggesting that it is not right for the PAP ministers to be the ones deciding on whether something is fake news or not. That was the main point of their arguments, and the main reason why they all voted against the law.
But the basis of their argument is actually wrong – the Court will have the final say on whether something is fake news.
Ministers’ powers are more limited, compared to the Court. And we know that the Court has actually disagreed with the PAP government before.
Yes, ministers can issue corrections orders or takedown requests when something is fake and against public interests. But people will be able to appeal to the Court.
And like I said, the Court will have the final say.
The main reason why ministers are allowed to issue correction or takedown orders against fake news is because fake news spreads online nowadays and there is a need for fast action. Anyone who has been through the Court or other legal process would know that it would take minimally days before you get a decision.
By then, the damage of fake news could have been done.
So is WP purposely ignoring this fact, or did they neglect this section of the Bill?
I don’t know. But what I do know for sure is that the WP leader Pritam Singh was actually part of the Select Committee on fake news, and he had actually agreed that it was necessary for prompt action.
What changed his mind since then? Now he and his team is suggesting a process that would actually prevent prompt action.
Fake news is an issue that will affect Singapore as a nation, and WP has traditionally supported the government on such security-related issues.
Not this time, though. Perhaps with the new leadership and a GE on the horizon, WP’s focus has shifted. Just look at Png Eng Huat’s Facebook post – he’s basically using the fake news law as a reason for Singaporeans to vote more WP members in.