SINGAPORE - Activist Gilbert Goh has been issued a correction direction under Singapore's fake news law over a Facebook post he made in April about a woman and her partner who purportedly needed financial assistance urgently but had no one to turn to for help.
In a statement issued on Thursday (May 12), the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said Mr Goh's post gave the false impression that the woman and her partner had not received any help from the authorities.
The MSF said that the woman, who it called Madam A, and her partner have been receiving social assistance from MSF and other agencies such as the Agency for Integrated Care and THK Family Service Centre @ MacPherson, and that Madam A had not contacted the ministry for further help before Mr Goh’s post was published on April 24.
The ministry said Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli had instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act Office to issue a correction direction to Mr Goh which requires him to carry a correction notice alongside his post.
Mr Goh has added the correction to his post as of Thursday morning.
On April 24, Mr Goh posted on Facebook an appeal he purportedly received from "A", who claimed that she and her husband were both ill, and were in "desperate need" of adult diapers, transport and food after their savings had run out.
"I need help urgently and there is no one I can turn to here," the post said.
The ministry said that Madam A has been receiving monthly ComCare assistance from MSF since June 2015.
Her monthly payout was also increased from May.
MSF added that Madam A's partner has also been receiving ComCare assistance for various periods since June 2015.
The financial assistance that the pair is currently receiving from MSF and other agencies amounts to more than $2,000 each month, said MSF.
This includes cash, rental assistance, assistance for service and conservancy charges, utility assistance and public healthcare assistance.
"The false statement in Goh's post gives the impression that MSF and other agencies are not aware of, or are not doing anything about, Madam A's situation. This is not the case, and it is important to set the facts straight," the ministry said.
"Such false statements erode public trust and lead to misunderstanding about the support and assistance being extended to needy families by MSF and other agencies."
MSF said people who come across those who require financial help can call the ComCare hotline on 1800-222-0000 or approach the nearest Social Service Office or Family Service Centre.