States Times Review's application to cancel Pofma order rejected; SDP files separate application

A screenshot of the corrections and clarifications regarding falsehoods posted by States Times Review on Facebook. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam has rejected an application by the States Times Review (STR) website to cancel a correction notice issued under Singapore's fake news law.

In a statement on Friday (Jan 3), the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the application sent on Wednesday had "simply restated the false statements and provided no evidence to disprove the grounds on which the correction direction was issued".

"After having carefully considered the Application, the Minister for Home Affairs has decided to reject it."

The ministry added that Mr Alex Tan, the website's administrator, has been informed of the rejection.

On Nov 28 last year, the ministry had instructed Mr Tan to correct a post on the STR Facebook page. The website itself is blocked in Singapore.

Among other things, the STR post had claimed that one person had been arrested and another was being investigated by the police for revealing the religious affiliation of People's Action Party member Rachel Ong in a Nov 17 post on the Nussu-NUS Students United (NSU) Facebook page. The NSU page parodies the National University of Singapore Students' Union (Nussu).

Mr Tan also alleged that Mr Shanmugam had ordered the arrest.

The MHA said on Friday that these statements were refuted in its statement on Nov 28.

"A correction direction was issued to Alex Tan on Nov 28, 2019, requiring him to insert a correction notice stating that the Facebook post contained false statements of fact. To date, Alex Tan has not complied with the correction direction."

Now that Mr Tan's application has been rejected, he has 14 days to file an appeal with the High Court. He had said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that he intends to do so.

Separately, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), which was also issued correction directions under Pofma last month, said on Friday that it has submitted its application to cancel the correction to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

The Singapore Democratic Party was also issued correction directions under Pofma last month. PHOTO: GOV.SG

The party was asked to correct two Facebook posts and an article on its website which the MOM said contained false statements of fact. The SDP had complied with the orders but on Thursday issued a statement defending the posts and its article.

An MOM spokesman said the ministry has received the application and is assessing it.

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