Article called fake news by MOE

Writer: Quote attributed to wrong speaker

The author of an article containing statements that the Ministry of Education (MOE) has branded as "fake news" maintains that they were said but he might have attributed them to the wrong person.

In a statement published on the website of EducationHQ Australia yesterday, Mr Walter Barbieri, a freelance contributor with the publishing company, apologised but stood by his article.

He said: "I wrote the article in good faith and did not intend to cause any offence.

"I maintain that the words quoted were delivered at the conference, and convey my genuine apologies if I have attributed them to the wrong speaker."

Mr Barbieri's widely-shared article, published in the August issue of Australian Teacher Magazine, which comes under EducationHQ, had quoted MOE director-general of education Wong Siew Hoong as telling a conference here in May that Singapore is "building compliant students just as the jobs that value compliance are beginning to disappear".

On Tuesday, MOE said that the statements were false and Mr Wong had not delivered those comments. It also released a full transcript and video recording of his speech.

The conference organiser - the National Institute of Education - had said that no other speakers had made comments similar to what was purported in Mr Barbieri's article, which EducationHQ withdrew online on Tuesday.

Mr Barbieri, the director of eLearning at St Peter's College in Adelaide, did not provide evidence indicating that the statements had indeed been made by a speaker at the conference. He did not respond to queries from The Straits Times.

In its statement, EducationHQ acknowledged that the quotes were wrongly attributed to Mr Wong, and apologised. It also said that it will be publishing a correction for the print edition of the article, which had wrongly attributed the quotes to Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, in its next edition of the magazine.

• Additional reporting by Daniel Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2017, with the headline 'Writer: Quote attributed to wrong speaker'. Print Edition | Subscribe