Pofma orders for Lim Tean, two other Facebook users

They are asked to correct posts on PA, RCs' role in Safra Jurong event

Three Facebook users, including opposition politician and lawyer Lim Tean, have been issued correction directions 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 Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) office said in a statement yesterday that PA deputy chairman Chan Chun Sing initiated the correction order on posts about the Feb 15 Safra Jurong Chinese New Year function that has so far surfaced 47 confirmed Covid-19 patients here.

All three people - Mr Lim, "Henryace Ace" and Mr Sebastian Ying - had 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 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. The first was last December, for a post which the Government said had implied it was spending more on foreign students than Singaporean students.

He was also instructed to put up a correction notice 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 has done so. "Henryace Ace" did not, but had a post saying: "I will permanently shut down my FB account shortly. Ending my online life and getting on with real life."

Mr Ying could no longer be found on Facebook.

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.

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 claimed Singapore had run out of face masks.

Pofma gives ministers the power to act against a piece of falsehood on the Internet when it is in the public's interest to do so.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2020, with the headline 'Pofma orders for Lim Tean, two other Facebook users'. Subscribe