MHA asks 9 to correct false statements, apologise for misrepresenting minister's remarks on rule of law

Mr K Shanmugam's comments came towards the end of the 10-hour long debate where he was responding to MPs' remarks on the role of the judiciary in overseeing Fica. PHOTO: MCI

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued letters to nine entities, asking them to correct false statements and apologise for misquoting what Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam had said on the rule of law in Parliament on Monday (Oct 4).

These misrepresentations were also published by news website Mothership in its article on Wednesday (Oct 6).

As at Thursday (Oct 7) night, seven have apologised for what they did and/or corrected their posts, MHA said in a statement.

Checks show the seven are activists Andrew Loh, Kirsten Han, Martyn See, Julie O'Connor, Kokila Annamalai and Lynn Lee, and Facebook page Wake Up Singapore.

The other two are Peoples Voice chief Lim Tean and activist Jolovan Wham.

Mothership has also published an editor's note to clarify and correct the misrepresentation, the ministry added.

The posts in question had completely misstated what Mr Shanmugam had said at the debate on the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act, or Fica, MHA said.

"The minister had said in Parliament that rule of law is fundamental and basic for Singapore and its success, and the Government has always been committed to the rule of law and continues to be committed to it," MHA's statement said.

"He also said that there are countries around the world where the rule of law is a concept for lawyers, but does not operate in the real world, and their societies live in utter misery."

MHA added: "The nine persons put up posts which attributed to the minister the very opposite of what he had said. They suggested that the minister had said that rule of law does not operate in Singapore. That is false."

Mothership, in its apology note, said an earlier version of its story had given the impression that Minister Shanmugam had changed his mind on rule of law.

"This is wrong and taken out of context," the website added.

Mr Shanmugam's comments came towards the end of the 10-hour long debate where he was responding to MPs' remarks on the role of the judiciary in overseeing Fica.

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The minister said he agreed that while executive powers must be subject to checks and balances, the questions are in what form and what are the appropriate and best solutions for Singapore's context.

He added that Fica offered a more calibrated approach for the Internet age.

Parliament approved Fica on Monday, three years after it was first raised and three weeks after the extensive, hotly debated legislation was tabled.

The debate saw MPs surface criticisms and concerns raised by lawyers, experts and activists, including over the law's broad language and lack of judicial oversight.

All 11 opposition MPs present voted against it, while two Nominated MPs abstained.

Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.

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