Skip to main content
Best News Website or Mobile Service
WAN-IFRA Digital Media Awards Worldwide
Best News Website or Mobile Service
Digital Media Awards Worldwide
Hamburger Menu




Asia Sentinel issued POFMA order over statements on Lee Hsien Yang, M Ravi among others

The news outlet interviewed Andy Wong, the author of a 2021 Nikkei opinion piece criticising Singapore's handling of KTV lounges amid the pandemic.

Asia Sentinel issued POFMA order over statements on Lee Hsien Yang, M Ravi among others

A screengrab of the homepage of online publication Asia Sentinel on May 26, 2023.

SINGAPORE: A correction direction under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) has been issued to online publication Asia Sentinel, over statements made on the aftermath of an opinion piece by Andy Wong Min Jun in Nikkei Asia. 

Under the POFMA order, California-registered Asia Sentinel is required to carry a correction notice alongside a May 24 article titled Singapore kills a Chicken to Scare the Monkeys, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a press release on Friday (May 26).

The article was written by editor John Berthelsen, who interviewed Wong, the author of a 2021 commentary criticising Singapore's handling of KTV lounges amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Berthelsen wrote that Wong had been "forced into exile" after, and drew parallels between his situation and that of others like lawyer M Ravi and Lee Hsien Yang, the brother of Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

MHA on Friday said that Asia Sentinel's article contained several falsehoods.

These include claiming that Mr Ravi was suspended from practising law for five years because he had criticised the Singapore government, and that Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife Mrs Lee Suet Fern were forced to leave Singapore because government action was threatened against them for "warring" with Mr Lee Hsien Loong.

Another false statement was that the Singapore government, in the aftermath of Wong's piece, had threatened to end Nikkei's business operations in the country, said MHA.

The ministry reiterated that Wong's Nikkei article contained "many factual inaccuracies".

"Nikkei Asia published the Ministry of Home Affairs’ response as a letter to the editor (Singapore says commentary on KTV outbreak is full of inaccuracies) on July 29, 2021. At no point did the Singapore government threaten to end Nikkei’s operations in Singapore," it said in the press release.

On Mr Ravi's suspension, which was applied in March, MHA said this was because the Court of Three Judges had found that his various allegations against the Attorney-General, Deputy Attorney-General, prosecutors and the Law Society, had "recklessly and baselessly undermined" the pillars of Singapore’s legal system.

On Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife, the ministry said the pair left Singapore after the police engaged them for an investigation. 

They had declined to attend a police interview in July 2022 relating to lying in judicial proceedings about the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's will. 

This police investigation has nothing to do with “warring with Lee Hsien Loong”, said MHA. 

As of Saturday afternoon, the news outlet added a correction notice at the top of the article, with an editor's note saying it is "reserving the right to answer (the Singapore government's) demand at a future time".


Wong's Nikkei piece in 2021 drew a point-by-point rebuttal from MHA then, with Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam later weighing in days later in a Facebook post and calling it "little more than a work of fiction".

The minister added that it contained "several falsehoods" about the government's approach towards KTV operations and immigration policies. 

Mr Shanmugam also then mentioned that Wong was "ironically" charged for possessing obscene material, and questioned if the criminal investigation against him was the reason for his diatribe based on falsehoods.

In April last year, Wong was fined S$42,000 for possessing more than 4,200 obscene videos and photos. 

He was a member of a Telegram chat group linked to Sammy Boy Forum, a sexually explicit local forum. Investigations against him and others started in November 2019.

Four members of that group, including Wong, were charged and sentenced for possessing obscene material.

Source: CNA/sn(jo)


Also worth reading