Yahoo Singapore adds correction notice to Facebook post about Malaysian group's claims of 'brutal' executions

Yahoo Singapore adds correction notice to Facebook post about Malaysian group's claims of 'brutal' executions

SINGAPORE: Yahoo Singapore has added a correction notice to a Facebook post after sharing an article that repeats claims made by a Malaysian human rights group about "brutal" execution methods in Singapore.

A check by CNA on the Facebook post's edit history shows that the notice was added to the post on Thursday (Jan 23) morning, a day after the correction direction was issued by the POFMA (Protection From Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act) Office.

The correction direction was made on Wednesday at the instruction of Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the claims by Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) on Jan 16 are "untrue, baseless and preposterous".

READ: Singapore invokes online falsehoods law against Malaysian rights group's 'preposterous' claims on  execution methods

In response to CNA's queries on Wednesday, a spokesperson from Verizon Media - which owns Yahoo - said: "People around the world rely on Yahoo as a credible and trusted news provider and we will not shy away from that responsibility.

"We are a trusted platform and media brand, and believe strongly in unbiased reporting and credible news coverage."

Correction directions were also issued to LFL, activist Kirsten Han and The Online Citizen.

LAWYERS FOR LIBERTY WILL NOT CHALLENGE OR COMPLY WITH ORDER

LFL said it would not comply with the correction direction or challenge it.

"We decline to challenge the order in Singapore courts because Singapore has no jurisdiction over us," LFL adviser N Surendran told CNA.

"Their attempt to crack down on free speech in Malaysia is illegal and in breach of international law. They have no authority across the Causeway, which is Malaysian sovereign land."

On Wednesday, the rights group said it stood by its claims that prisoners on death row at Singapore's Changi Prison are executed brutally.

READ: Malaysian rights group ‘absolutely stands by' claims on Changi prison execution methods, will not comply with correction direction

In its statement on Jan 16, LFL had alleged that prison officers were instructed to "pull the rope around the neck of the prisoner towards him" and "kick the back of the neck of the prisoner with great force in order to break it" whenever the rope broke during a hanging.

LFL also claimed that prison officers were "given special training to carry out the brutal execution method" and that "specific measures were adopted to cover up these methods".

FAQ: How will the new law stop deliberate online falsehoods from spreading?

Calling the allegations "entirely unfounded", MHA said on Wednesday that the executions are done in strict compliance with the law. 

"For the record, the rope used for judicial executions has never broken before, and prison officers certainly do not receive any 'special training to carry out the brutal execution method' as alleged," said MHA.

"Any acts such as those described in the LFL statement would have been thoroughly investigated and dealt with."

KIRSTEN HAN POSTS CORRECTION NOTICE

Ms Han added a correction notice on Wednesday afternoon to her Facebook post, which shared LFL's press statement.

"Under POFMA, I’m legally required to append the above correction notice to this post," she wrote in the post.

"I originally shared this post because the allegations that were made by Lawyers For Liberty, concerning a process about which very little information is publicly available, were extremely serious and disturbing," she said.

READ: POFMA - Government not 'training our sights on certain types of people or organisations', says Iswaran

READ: Singapore defends online falsehoods law in response to articles by SCMP, Bloomberg

The freelance journalist added that she had previously asked the Singapore Prison Service for their response to LFL's statement and other questions about executions in prison and their standard protocol, but received no reply.

"In the interests of dealing with 'fake news', I hope that government and public agencies can be more responsive to queries from journalists and/or civil society groups when they are seeking information that can clarify matters​​​​​," she said.

TOC said on Wednesday it has filed an application to Mr Shanmugam to cancel the correction direction.

"The minister has three days to consider the application before TOC can take the matter to the court," it wrote in a Facebook post.

Additional reporting by Amir Yusof.​​​​​​​

Source: CNA/jt

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