SINGAPORE: The alternate authority for the Minister for Foreign Affairs has instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office to issue a correction direction each to the Facebook pages belonging to State News Singapore and Mr Alex Tan.
The alternate authority, who in this case is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Permanent Secretary Chee Wee Kiong, also issued Facebook a targeted correction direction, the Office said in a media release on Monday (Jun 29).
This is the first instance of an alternate authority issuing correction directions under POFMA.
The Act states that ministers may appoint public officers to issue orders under POFMA during an election period, which is defined as the period between the day a writ of election is issued and the close of Polling Day.
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“The ‘State News Singapore’ Facebook page made false statements of fact about cross-border travel arrangements between Singapore and Malaysia in a post published on 27 June 2020,” the POFMA Office said.
“This false statement of fact was shared by Mr Tan’s Facebook page.”
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The post on the Government website Factually is as follows:
There is a false statement of fact contained in a Facebook post by State News Singapore (SNS) on the cross-border travel arrangements between Singapore and Malaysia.
2. On 27 June 2020, SNS published a Facebook post stating that “[d]espite Lee Hsien Loong personally calling Malaysia Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin requesting Malaysia to open up daily commute, the Malaysian authorities refused to accede to his request”. This is false.
3. We wish to clarify that the telephone call between the two Prime Ministers was initiated at the request of Prime Minister Muhyiddin. As Prime Minister Muhyiddin has publicly stated, he proposed that the Singapore Government consider a daily cross-border commuting arrangement.
4. The Singapore Government is committed to discussing the gradual and phased resumption of cross-border travel with Malaysia, subject to mutually agreed public health protocols, to preserve the public health and safety of citizens of both countries. Singapore and Malaysia are working on the Periodic Commuting Arrangement and the Reciprocal Green Lane, and officials on both sides will continue discussions on other proposals to gradually facilitate more cross-border movement of people, while taking into account the medical resources available in both countries.
5. For more details, please refer to the press statement dated 27 June 2020 issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s telephone call with Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin: https://www.mfa.gov.sg/Newsroom/Press-Statements-Transcripts-and-Photos/2020/06/20200627---S-M-RGLPCA