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SDP complies with POFMA order but will apply to cancel correction directions

SDP complies with POFMA order but will apply to cancel correction directions

SDP was directed under the online falsehoods law to correct two Facebook posts and an article on its website related to manpower issues. (Photos: SDP/Facebook, Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has complied with Correction Directions (CDs) issued under online falsehoods legislation but it also said it will be applying to cancel the directions.

On Saturday (Dec 14), the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office was instructed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to issue CDs to the SDP. The subject of the orders was two Facebook posts and an article related to employment trends affecting professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).

The Manpower Ministry said that the posts and article contained “a misleading graphic and false statement of facts”.

The SDP issued the correction on the article on its website and on a Facebook post from Nov 30, but added it will contest them.

"Under POFMA, we have to comply with the order but we will be applying to cancel the Correction Directions," SDP said on Sunday.

The party also penned a Facebook post to Manpower Minister Josephine Teo explaining the basis for what it had previously written.

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


In its Facebook post on Sunday, the SDP first referred to the article posted on its website on Jun 8. The post was titled: SDP Population Policy: Hire S’poreans First, Retrench S’poreans last. 

The Manpower Ministry noted the article contained the statement: “The SDP’s proposal comes amidst a rising proportion of Singaporean PMETs getting retrenched.” MOM refuted this, saying there is no rising trend of local PMET retrenchments.

SDP said its statement was based on a report in The Straits Times (ST) which said PMETs made up a rising share of retrenched locals, mentioning this line in the newspaper's article: “Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) made up about three in four or 76 per cent of the locals - Singaporeans and permanent residents - who were retrenched last year, the highest figure in at least a decade.”

SDP also referred to a graphic within the ST article that was titled: PMETs make up growing share of locals laid off.

SDP said MOM should take the matter up with the ST. "If the ST states that its information, or the interpretation of it, is incorrect, we would be happy to amend our statement correspondingly,” SDP said on Sunday in its response.

It also said that as the ST is a "government-controlled" newspaper, "we have no reason to believe it would publish fake news about the government".

READ: POFMA Office directs Brad Bowyer to correct Facebook post in first use of 'fake news' law


Two SDP Facebook posts were also the subject of CDs from the POFMA office. 

In a Facebook post on Nov 30, the party linked to the article from June, saying it believed Singaporeans deserved more protection in the labour market.

"As Singaporeans, many of us have either been displaced or know someone who has been displaced from their PMET jobs by foreign employees," it said, proposing a reform of Singapore's immigration system.

A correction notice has been added to this post, along with its statement that it will apply to cancel the CD.

In its Facebook statement on Sunday, SDP defended this post. It focused on its infographic which said that "Local PMET unemployment has increased" quoting a Business Insider piece titled: More workers were retrenched in Q1 – here’s why most of them were PMETs.

The SDP's Facebook statement carried a quote from the Business Insider article: “Retrenchment in Q1 2019 is up from the previous quarter, and most of those who were retrenched were professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), a report by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has revealed.”

SDP added other publications like ST and TODAY published similar reports.

“Our statement is based on publicly available information cited in the reports mentioned,” SDP said, noting a Yahoo! News article and an economist cited by them contained similar or related information.

On Dec 2, 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. 

In its response, SDP said: “In our infograph posted on 2 December 2019, we made the statement: 'Local PMET employment has decreased'.

“In addition, the low re-entry numbers suggest that the absolute numbers of unemployed and under-employed PMETs would have increased,” it said.

“Be that as it may, 2019 isn't over, yet you say that local PMET employment has risen for the year. This raises questions about your conclusion.”

This is the third time correction directions have been issued since POFMA came into force in October. Previously, directions were issued to Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Brad Bowyer and the States Times Review.

Source: CNA/aa


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