Select Committee on fake news seeks public's suggestions, will hold open hearings in March

The Select Committee tasked with tacking fake news is asking members of the public to submit their views and suggestions on dealing with online falsehoods.
The Select Committee tasked with tacking fake news is asking members of the public to submit their views and suggestions on dealing with online falsehoods. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - A Select Committee tasked to look into ways Singapore can tackle online fake news is inviting the general public to submit their views and suggestions on the matter.

These suggestions should be submitted by the end of February, ahead of public hearings the committee expects to hold in the second half of March, the committee announced on Tuesday (Jan 16).

The suggestions can relate to anything that falls within the committee's mandate, which is to examine and report on causes and consequences of online falsehoods, and to propose countermeasures, including legislation that may be needed.

Deputy Speaker Charles Chong, the chairman of the 10-member committee, said: "The committee's work will be assisted by hearing a wide range of views from the public. I encourage everyone with an interest in this subject to write in with their views and suggestions."

He added that he has asked members of the committee to reach out to individuals and organisations who will add useful perspectives to its work.

The submissions can be made in English, Chinese, Malay or Tamil.

They can be sent via mail to The Clerk of Parliament, Parliament House, 1 Parliament Place, Singapore 178880, or emailed to selectcommittee@parl.gov.sg.

The Select Committee may publish the submissions it receives.

Apart from Mr Chong, the committee comprises three office-holders, four People's Action Party (PAP) MPs, one Workers' Party MP and a Nominated MP (NMP).

The office-holders are Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee and Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Education Janil Puthucheary. The PAP MPs are Mr Seah Kian Peng, Ms Rahayu Mahzam, Ms Sun Xueling and Mr Edwin Tong. The remaining two are Workers' Party MP Pritam Singh and NMP Chia Yong Yong.

The Select Committee was formed last week, after Mr Shanmugam tabled a motion in Parliament on the matter. The motion was carried after all 80 MPs present voted to support it, including opposition MPs and NMPs.

In a 21-page Green Paper published ahead of the motion, the Government also set out what it saw as the threat from online falsehoods. It cited examples of coordinated disinformation campaigns by foreign countries to interfere in elections - including the 2017 German federal election and the 2016 United States presidential election.

After the public hearings and deliberations by the committee, it will submit its recommendations to Parliament.