MPs eye tough laws against fake news, child sex offenders

Mr Zaqy (above) wants a dedicated agency to look into the proliferation of fake news while Ms Tin would like laws on sexual offences committed on minors to be reviewed.
Mr Zaqy (above) wants a dedicated agency to look into the proliferation of fake news while Ms Tin would like laws on sexual offences committed on minors to be reviewed.
Mr Zaqy wants a dedicated agency to look into the proliferation of fake news while Ms Tin (above) would like laws on sexual offences committed on minors to be reviewed.
Mr Zaqy wants a dedicated agency to look into the proliferation of fake news while Ms Tin(above) would like laws on sexual offences committed on minors to be reviewed.

Some worried businesses may take advantage of the water price hike

MPs will urge the Government to tighten legislation against fake news, and consider stiffer penalties for child sex offenders, when Parliament sits on Monday.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC), who is one of two MPs to raise the issue of fake news, wants a dedicated agency to look into its proliferation.

"Our laws may not be prepared to handle the fake news phenomenon. I would like clarity, and to get the Government to strengthen the laws, as well as look into side measures on how to inoculate the public against such news," he said.

Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson) is one of two MPs who will ask Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam about reviewing laws on sexual offences committed on minors.

She is concerned about the "relatively light" jail sentence for mixed martial arts instructor Joshua Robinson, who was last month sentenced to four years' jail for consensual sex with two underage girls and showing an obscene clip to a six-year-old girl, among other offences.

Mr Shanmugam said the Government is considering higher penalties for offenders like Robinson.

Ms Tin, who hopes the laws can be amended, said: "There's a general sentiment that the penalties weren't strong enough."

Another concern is whether businesses might take advantage of the recent increases in the prices of water and electricity to hike prices.

Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) and Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland- Bukit Timah GRC) believe a watchdog should be set up to prevent profiteering.

Ms Lee said a model similar to the Committee Against GST Profiteering could be adopted. "Singaporeans now know the water (price) hike means an increase of just a couple of dollars (to their water bills), but they are worried that businesses may use this as an excuse to start off a chain of increases."

Two groups of MPs have also tabled motions. One, led by Ms Tin, seeks the House's support in helping women fulfil their family and career aspirations.

She said: "What we need to do next is to address gender gaps, which will see not just women but also men benefit."

The other, led by Mr Christopher De Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), seeks to reaffirm Singapore's tough stance against drugs.

The House will also debate changes to the Public Order Act which, among others, will require organisers of public events that draw crowds of more than 5,000 to consult the police on security measures that may have to be enacted.

Changes to the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act and Energy Conservation Act will also be debated.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2017, with the headline 'MPs eye tough laws against fake news, child sex offenders'. Print Edition | Subscribe