Pofma office orders opposition politician Lim Tean, 2 Facebook users to correct posts alleging PA event led to S'pore's largest coronavirus cluster

All three posted or shared links saying the People's Association and residents' committees were responsible for the infections linked to an event held at Safra Jurong.
All three posted or shared links saying the People's Association and residents' committees were responsible for the infections linked to an event held at Safra Jurong.PHOTOS: JASON QUAH, GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Three Facebook users, including opposition politician and lawyer Lim Tean, have been issued correction directions by the Government for alleging that the People's Association (PA) and residents' committees (RCs) were involved in the organisation of an event that has emerged as Singapore's largest coronavirus cluster.

The Protection from Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) office said in a statement on Wednesday (March 18) that the deputy chairman of PA, Mr Chan Chun Sing, has initiated the latest correction order on posts about the Feb 15 Safra Jurong Chinese New Year function that has so far surfaced 47 cases of confirmed Covid-19 infections here.

All three - Mr Lim, "Henryace Ace" and Mr Sebastian Ying - posted or shared links saying the PA and RCs were responsible for the infections linked to the event.

Mr Lim, who is the People's Voice party chief, did so on both his pages Lim Tean and Tean Lim.

According to the government fact-checking website Factually, the posts alleging PA or RC involvement in the organisation of the Feb 15 event are "entirely false".

It said: "PA and the RCs were not involved in the organisation of the dinner event... and were not in a position to cancel it. PA and the RCs also did not fund or publicise the dinner event.

"The event was a private dinner function organised by a singing instructor for members of her singing groups."

This is the third time Mr Lim has been issued with an order from the Pofma office, with the first time being in December last year for a post which the Government said had implied that it was spending more on foreign students than Singaporean students.

He was also instructed to put up a correction note in January after sharing an article by website AB-TC City News that claimed five Singaporeans had contracted the coronavirus without going to China.

 
 

All three will need to put up a correction alongside the offending Facebook posts.

Mr Lim added the correction notice to his original post on Thursday morning, but he criticised Mr Chan for using Pofma to stifle discussion.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday evening user “Henryace Ace” apologised and deleted the post, while the Facebook profile of the Mr Ying can no longer be found.

This is not the first time the law has been invoked to correct statements made about the Covid-19 outbreak.

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

SPH Magazines was also asked in January 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 in the same month was instructed to correct a post that claimed Singapore had run out of face masks.

Pofma, which gives ministers the power to act against a piece of falsehood on the Internet when it is in the public interest to do so, was passed by Parliament in May 2019 and took effect on Oct 2.