SINGAPORE: The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has been directed to correct two Facebook posts and an article on its website that are related to manpower issues, the authorities said on Saturday (Dec 14).
“The Minister for Manpower (MOM) has instructed the POFMA Office to issue three Correction Directions (CD) to the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), on the false statements made in two Facebook posts and a website article by SDP,” said the POFMA Office in a news release on Saturday (Dec 14).
“The Correction Directions require SDP to carry in full, the correction notice at the top of both the Facebook posts, as well as the website article,” it said.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a separate release on Saturday said that SDP's posts and article on Singapore’s population policy contained “a misleading graphic and false statement of facts”.
A correction direction is issued to a person who has communicated a falsehood that affects the public interest, the POFMA Office said.
It requires the recipient to publish a correction notice with the facts, but does not require the post to be taken down or edits made. The order also does not impose criminal sanctions.
This is the third time correction directions have been issued since the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) came into force in October. Previously, directions were issued to Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Brad Bowyer and the States Times Review.
NO RISING TREND OF LOCAL PMET RETRENCHMENTS
On Dec 2, 2019, the SDP published a sponsored Facebook post with a graphic depicting plunging local PMET employment.
MOM said that the graphic was wrong, citing its Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, which shows the employment of local PMETs has risen steadily since 2015.
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According to the Government's Factually website, the number of local PMETs employed has increased from 1.17 million in 2015 to 1.30 million in 2019, with the local PMET share as a proportion of the total local workforce increasing from 54 per cent in 2015 to 58 per cent in 2019.
"The CDs will require SDP to carry a correction notice stating that its sponsored Facebook post, the post on its Facebook page, as well as the article on its website, contain a misleading graphic and false statement of facts," said MOM.
Both SDP's sponsored Facebook post on Dec 2 and another Facebook post on Nov 30 link to an article on the SDP website published on Jun 8 titled SDP Population Policy: Hire S’poreans First, Retrench S’poreans last.
In the press release, MOM noted that the article contains the statement: “The SDP’s proposal comes amidst a rising proportion of Singaporean PMETs getting retrenched”.
MOM refuted the statement, and said there is no rising trend of local PMET retrenchments. On the Factually website, it is stated that there has been no rising trend of local retrenchments since 2015.
There has also been no rising trend of local PMET retrenchments since 2015, with the number of retrenched local PMETs has declined from 6,460 in 2015 to 5,360 in 2018, the lowest since 2014.
The number of local PMETs retrenched as a share of all local PMET employees has also declined since 2015.
"The number of local PMETs retrenched in 2018 was, in fact, the lowest since 2014. Local PMETs retrenched as a proportion of all local PMET employees, has also declined since 2015," said MOM.
"The Singapore economy is continuing to create jobs despite the economic headwinds. Local PMET employment has increased consistently. There is no rising trend of retrenchment, whether amongst PMETs or otherwise."
On the Factually website, the Government also issued a clarification on Foreign PMETs.
"The number of Employment Pass (EP) holders has historically fluctuated depending on economic conditions," it said.
"EP qualifying salaries are also regularly adjusted to safeguard employment of local PMETs."
As a result, local PMET employment has continued to grow while the number of EP holders in Singapore remained stable, ranging from 187,900 in 2015 to 185,800 in 2018. The latest figure as of Jun 2019 is 189,000.
"FALSE AND MISLEADING STATEMENTS"
MOM said that it is understandable that some Singaporeans would feel anxious about employment prospects and retrenchments given the current uncertain economic climate.
"This makes it all the more critical that public debate on the important issue of jobs is based on accurate facts, and not distortions or falsehoods," said the ministry.
"These false and misleading statements by the SDP have a singular objective – to stoke fear and anxiety among local PMETs. It is important to set the facts straight so that Singaporeans are not misled."
When contacted by CNA, the SDP said it is looking into the directions.