Govt clarifies foreign workers under Covid-19 quarantine will be paid salaries, orders correction of Facebook post

The office said that the post falsely claimed that quarantined foreign workers will not be paid their salaries. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - The foreign workers who have been quarantined will be paid their salaries, the Government has clarified as it invoked Singapore's law against fake news against a Facebook post that suggested otherwise.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo has instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office to issue correction directions to Mr Alex Tan and the Singapore States Times Facebook page, and a targeted correction direction to Facebook.

Mr Tan runs the Facebook page and lives in Australia.

The Pofma Office said in a statement on Monday (April 6) that the directions are with regard to Mr Tan's post published on the Singapore States Times Facebook page on Sunday at 8.43pm.

The office said that the post falsely claimed that quarantined foreign workers will not be paid their salaries.

The Government said on its fact-checking website Factually that the workers will continue to be paid their salaries for the duration of their quarantine. Their period of absence from work is treated as paid hospitalisation leave, as part of the worker's leave eligibility.

When contacted, the Singapore States Times Facebook page said it would not be complying with the correction direction.

Mr Tan also runs the States Times Review Facebook page, which was blocked in February after repeatedly posting falsehoods and refusing to post corrections or comply with the law.

The fake news law has been invoked several times to correct statements related to the coronavirus pandemic.

On April 1, a correction direction was issued to a Facebook user tifinnytara who claimed that a third of the help set out in the Resilience Budget would go to Singapore Airlines and that the $17 billion to come form Singapore's past reserves would be ring-fenced for Temasek. The Government said this was untrue.

Last month, three Facebook users, including opposition politician and lawyer Lim Tean, were issued correction directions for falsely alleging the People's Association (PA) and residents' committees were involved in the organisation of an event that resulted in Singapore's largest coronavirus cluster.

In January, two Facebook accounts were issued correction directions after their posts falsely claimed Woodlands MRT station was closed for disinfection because of a suspected Covid-19 case.

That month, SPH Magazines was also asked to correct an online post in the HardwareZone forum that falsely claimed a man in Singapore had died from the virus infection, while The States Times Review Facebook page was instructed to correct a post that wrongly claimed Singapore had run out of face masks.

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