Parliament rejects amendment to Bill proposed by 3 NMPs

An amendment to the fake news Bill by three Nominated MPs failed to get the nod from MPs yesterday.

The trio - Ms Anthea Ong, Ms Irene Quay and Associate Professor Walter Theseira - had proposed changes to limit the powers given to ministers under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill.

These included a clause that sets out key principles under which powers can be used.

But as the eight clauses were read out in Parliament, People's Action Party MPs rejected each one with a chorus of "nos", while Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh rose to say that his party would abstain from the vote.

On Tuesday, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam had given a point-by-point rebuttal to the NMPs' suggestions. He noted that they agreed with the principle of the Bill, though they might diverge from the Government in how the laws should be carried out.

He added that some of the changes they called for will be set out in subsidiary legislation.

But in her speech yesterday, Ms Ong pointed out one possible shortcoming of subsidiary legislation is that it could be amended later without coming before the House.


Although their amendments were not accepted by Parliament, Dr Theseira told The Straits Times last night that he had no regrets despite the results.

"It isn't about winning or losing, but about bringing concerns to Parliament and making sure they are properly debated. I think the Government gave a good and detailed set of assurances in the key areas we were concerned about," he said.

Rachel Au-Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2019, with the headline 'Parliament rejects amendment to Bill proposed by 3 NMPs'. Print Edition | Subscribe