The danger of foreign interference in Singapore elections, flagged by a French expert, reiterates the need for citizens to treat suspect information with habitual caution. Attempts at interference cannot be prevented easily, but their nefarious objectives can be defeated by voters refusing to buy into foreign attempts to set the electoral agenda and influence even the formulation of national policies. Unlike hacking - which is bad enough but which breaches the firewalls meant to protect private, corporate or political data - the organised spread of misinformation by hostile powers in the lead-up to elections strikes at the heart of democratic polities by subverting the very means through which citizens select their legislators. Misinformation campaigns occupy an altogether higher order of mischief.
Underlining that threat in remarks made to this newspaper, political analyst Fabrice Pothier has drawn attention to Singapore's multi-ethnic and multilingual society and its economic dependence on the global market as factors that make it vulnerable to attacks and information campaigns from outside. According to him, there are "some big neighbours of Singapore who might want to shake things up" - ominous words coming from the co-founder of the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, which works with lawmakers in Europe and North America on how to reduce the risk of interference from foreign powers.