Forum: Conditional warning over fake news does not go far enough

I reacted with great disquiet after hearing the claim that a three-year-old child had died from Covid-19 at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (Woman gets Pofma warning over claim of child's virus death, April 1).

It was such a relief to learn later that it was a falsehood. The woman who posted the falsehood online clearly had no qualms about causing public confusion and distrust through her irresponsible act.

The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office issued her a 24-month conditional warning, which means that if she reoffends during this period, she can be prosecuted for the original crime.

But I wonder if this warning issued to offenders like her will serve as an effective deterrent.

There has been an increase in false and distorted claims on the Internet in recent months, and the authorities must adopt a strong stance on such crimes which, if unchecked, can cause public fear and anxiety.

Towards this end, besides being issued with a conditional warning, such offenders should also be fined to reflect the seriousness of the offence.

Unless Pofma comes down hard, such offences will proliferate over time and may go out of control.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

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