Vivian debunks fake news about collapse at UN

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept 23, 2017.
Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept 23, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan became a target of fake news yesterday when a website falsely reported that he had collapsed at a United Nations meeting and was in critical condition.

Dr Balakrishnan, who is in New York for the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, took to Facebook to debunk the report.

Describing it as fake news, he said: "I am fine in New York and looking forward to delivering my speech at the UN later today. Thank you all for your concern."

The erroneous story on Global News, or Glonews360, claimed Dr Balakrishnan had excused himself midway through a presentation and then collapsed in a hallway. It also attributed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres a quote saying that the Singapore minister was in "critical condition".

People commenting on Dr Balakrishnan's Facebook post yesterday expressed relief that the news of his collapse was not true.

The website responsible for the bogus story resembles a news website with tabs for "latest news", "politics" and "business", among others.

It is registered under Domains By Proxy, a domain registrar company which helps to shield the identities of website owners.

In the past, it has also put out other fake "breaking" reports related to Singapore.

In June, it reported that United States President Donald Trump had cancelled a visa waiver programme for Singaporeans, which the US Embassy in Singapore rubbished.

That same month, it also posted a false report claiming that Singaporean comedian Hossan Leong had died in a car crash in Johor.

He later posted a video on his Facebook page to debunk it.

Tham Yuen-C

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 24, 2017, with the headline 'Vivian debunks fake news about collapse at UN'. Print Edition | Subscribe