Shanmugam rejects States Times Review's application to cancel correction direction: MHA

Shanmugam rejects States Times Review's application to cancel correction direction: MHA

MHA building Singapore
The Ministry of Home Affairs building in Singapore. 

SINGAPORE: An application by States Times Review (STR) to cancel a correction direction has been rejected by the Minister of Home Affairs K Shanmugam, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a statement on Friday (Jan 3).

The correction direction was issued on Nov 28, 2019, to Mr Alex Tan Zhi Xiang, a 32-year-old Singaporean who runs the States Times Review website and Facebook page.

READ: States Times Review directed to correct Facebook post under online falsehoods law

READ: Parliament passes Bill to tackle online falsehoods after lengthy debate over two days

"STR’s Application, sent on Jan 1 2020, simply restated the false statements and provided no evidence to disprove the grounds on which the Correction Direction was issued," said MHA.

"After having carefully considered the Application, the Minister for Home Affairs has decided to reject it. Alex Tan has been notified of the rejection."

MHA also noted that as of Jan 3, 2020, Mr Tan still has not complied with the Correction Direction.

According to the Supreme Court, if an application to vary or cancel a direction or declaration has been refused in whole or in part, an appeal can be filed against the decision made by the relevant minister in the High Court within 14 days.

POFMA appeal
(Graphic: Supreme Court)

A Facebook post on Nov 23, 2019, by the States Times Review alleged that a “whistleblower who exposed a People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate’s Christian affiliations” has been arrested and that the owner of the NUSSU – NUS Students United Facebook page, which published the claims about the PAP candidate, is under police investigation.

READ: Law to tackle online falsehoods not an attempt to suppress different opinions: Heng Swee Keat

MHA subsequently issued a correction direction to STR on Nov 28 after labeling the claims “false and baseless”. Mr Tan did not comply, and MHA proceeded to issue a Targeted Correction Direction to Facebook on Nov 29, 2019. 

A correction direction is issued to a person who has communicated a falsehood that affects the public interest, according to the POFMA Office. 

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.

Source: CNA/ic