Manpower Minister rejects SDP’s application to retract correction directions, cites insufficient grounds

Manpower Minister rejects SDP’s application to retract correction directions, cites insufficient grounds

File photo ministry of manpower MOM
The Ministry of Manpower building. (File photo: Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: The Minister for Manpower has rejected the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) application to cancel the correction directions that were issued last month about statements the SDP had made on its website and Facebook page about employment issues, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Monday (Jan 6).

The opposition party had on Thursday called on Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo to retract the correction directions, insisting that its statements were “true and correct”.

MOM said it received SDP’s application to cancel the correction directions on Friday.

"After careful consideration, the Minister for Manpower is of the view that the application does not provide sufficient grounds for the cancellation of the correction directions," the ministry said on Monday.

The minister has decided to refuse the application and SDP has been notified, it said.

SDP has 14 days from the date of the refusal to file an appeal against the decision made by the minister in the High Court.

In December, MOM instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office to issue correction directions to the SDP over two Facebook posts and an article which contained "a misleading graphic and false statement of facts” on employment trends among PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians).

The ministry said there had been no rising trend of retrenchment for local PMETs, in contrast to what the SDP alleged. 

MOM added on Monday that SDP’s assertion the Manpower Minister is applying POFMA retroactively is "misconstrued".

SDP's article titled "SDP Population Policy: Hire S’poreans First, Retrench S’poreans last" was published on its website in June last year. POFMA came into effect on Oct 2.

"In particular, the article was hyperlinked in the SDP FB post and sponsored post, hence it was actively being publicised as late as Dec 2, 2019," said MOM.

READ: SDP complies with POFMA order but will apply to cancel correction directions

READ: POFMA Code of Practice for online political ads will help citizens make informed choices: Iswaran

SDP on Thursday said MOM had accused it of "making statements that we did not make or cited different sets of data which it then used to accuse the SDP's post as false".

It also alleged that the ministry was "abusing POFMA for political-partisan purposes to stymie legitimate criticism of the PAP's foreign PMET policy".

Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said in Parliament on Monday that the Government is not using POFMA to target "certain types of people or organisations”.

Since POFMA came into force in October, correction directions have also been issued to Progress Singapore Party member Brad Bowyer, the States Times Review and Singaporean lawyer Lim Tean

An application by the States Times Review to cancel the correction direction issued against one of its Facebook posts was rejected last week by the Minister of Home Affairs K Shanmugam.

Source: CNA/ec(hm)