SDP promises to correct article that mischaracterises AGC's position: AGC

SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan (left) and vice-chairman John Tan leaving the Supreme Court on Jan 16,2020. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has promised to correct an article that mischaracterises the Attorney-General's Chambers' (AGC) position on ongoing legal proceedings under the fake news law.

The AGC gave this update in a statement on Thursday (Jan 23), after it attended a hearing with SDP earlier in the day over the party's Jan 18 article, titled "Whether a statement is true of false cannot be 'based on the minister's interpretation'".

The article, which is about ongoing proceedings regarding corrections issued by the Manpower Minister against the SDP, "falsely suggested that it is the AGC's case that the minister's interpretation of a subject statement is determinative of its meaning under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma)", it said.

Adding that this was incorrect, the AGC said its position is that the courts ultimately determine whether a statement "bears the particular meaning relied on by the minister" when he or she issues a correction direction.

Justice Ang Cheng Hock, who presided over the hearing, reminded the SDP to ensure that all its statements relating to ongoing proceedings under Pofma are accurate.

AGC's statement added that the SDP had undertaken to make the necessary corrections to the article by the close of business on Thursday.

"The AGC expects the SDP to honour its undertaking and to refrain from further mischaracterising the Government's position in these proceedings as per the court's reminder," it said.

In replies to ST's queries late on Thursday night, SDP vice-chairman John Tan confirmed the party was at the hearing but said "there was no correction to (be) complied with".

The AGC had requested the hearing on Monday after the SDP published an article which cited an ST piece quoting Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair.

It said the piece omitted "critical parts" of what Mr Nair had told reporters after the hearing and accused SDP of cherry-picking from the ST piece.

Mr Tan said the SDP maintained at the hearing that it had not misrepresented the Deputy A-G, but offered to insert a sentence to the article "to resolve the matter".

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