Kirsten Han 韩俐颖
Sat Apr 20 05:48:03 +0000 2019

Thread on public discourse and a proposed #fakenews bill in #Singapore: 1/ @NasDaily1 is holding a meet-up in #Singapore. It sounds fun for his fans, but it's in stark contrast w/ what local activists have *not* been able to do (or punished for doing).

2/ Yesterday, I published a blog post about this, explaining how it's not actually *about* @NasDaily1, but about how vaguely worded laws allow the powerful to define things as they like, and how there are double standards.

3/ I'm not the only one to have this view. My blog post made the rounds, and I saw many others say the same/very similar things.

4/ At night (Friday), the @SingaporePolice responds. They say that @NasDaily1's event isn't a "cause based" one, so he doesn't need the same permit that others like @jolovanwham and @seelanpalay were penalised for not having.

5/ Given how broadly worded the Public Order Act is, I don't think that answer resolves anything. But what I would like to highlight is what else the @SingaporePolice said. 👇 Here's the @STcom report, which also quotes my blog post and some others:

6/ Now, people who have been following the developments wrt #Singapore's proposed #fakenews law might find that this is ringing some bells. For reference, here is POFMA, the bill that the government says will deal with online falsehoods:

7/ @SingaporePolice have said that claims of double standards as "false", are "malicious" and seek to "undermine public confidence in public institutions". These are all covered by POFMA.

8/ Under Part 2 of POFMA, if you are found to knowingly communicate a "false statement of fact" that is likely to "diminish public confidence" in public institutions, the penalty is a fine of up to S$50,000 and/or up to 5 years in prison.

9/ My question: is this a hint of how POFMA will be used, once passed? If POFMA were already law, would a minister have demanded that I and others who spoke of double standards either "correct" or remove our comments? Would any of us have been investigated/charged?

10/ But the question of how our laws are interpreted by the powerful and how permits are issued/not issued/not required for public assemblies is an important one for Singaporeans. And, from what I've seen, I am arguing that there *are* double standards.

11/ Under POFMA, would the authorities say that I, and others, have been making "false statements of fact"? Or is my blog post opinion? How will they make the distinction? Remember that, under POFMA, the court doesn't need to decide first. The Minister can just issue an order.

12/ The Law Minister, in defending POFMA, said that it's a law that 99% of Singaporeans won't have to worry about it 99% of the time: But the law hasn't even been passed yet and we're already seeing the police use POFMA-like language.