Budget debate

Factually website clarifies 'widespread' falsehoods

The state-run Factually webpage will clarify falsehoods that have attracted enough public interest, said Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

He was responding to Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera, who wanted to know how the webpage selects falsehoods to respond to.

Dr Yaacob told Parliament the site, which started in 2012, aims to clarify "widespread or common misperceptions of government policy, or incorrect assertions on matters of public concern that can harm Singapore's social fabric".

In selecting topics to clarify, the Government listens to feedback from various sources within and outside the Government, he said.

It also periodically conducts public engagement exercises, where members of the public might raise concerns about issues. "If we think that there is enough interest in the subject matter that has purveyed some misperceptions, we will go into it to clarify," he said.

This month, Factually put out two articles. One explained why a goods and services tax is applied to the water conservation tax, while the other explained why the Housing Board had restricted lift company Sigma from tendering for new projects in 2015.

The issue of water has been widely discussed online as well as in forums organised by the Government since a 30 per cent water price hike was announced last month.

Dr Yaacob said Factually has, over the years, addressed inaccurate assertions on matters such as the Zika virus, housing, economy and finance. "This is part of the Government's efforts to ensure Singaporeans have access to accurate information on important matters," he said.

Pearl Lee

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2017, with the headline Factually website clarifies 'widespread' falsehoods. Subscribe