Following much hoo-ha over the fake news Bill, 3 NMPs, namely Walter Theseira, Anthea Ong and Irene Quay, have filed a Notice of Amendment for the Protection against Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill (POFMA).
They agree that it is important to combat online falsehoods as they pose a risk to democracy. However, they think that the Bill needs to be improved as the current version gives the government somewhat unlimited powers which, in the worse case scenario, could be misused.
In order to avoid this, the 3 NMPs have consolidated views from the community and suggested various ways to improve the Bill. Here’s a condensed version of their proposal for those who want to understand it better:
1. The Minister has to explain, with evidence, why something is considered false and why certain actions will be taken.
2. The Bill should include a “Principles of Act” which outlines key principles decision-makers have to abide by when executing their powers. They include being well-informed, free and embracing critical speech
3. There should be an independent council to oversee the decision-making process so as to fight online falsehoods fairly
The NMPs have said their piece. Now, Singaporeans will wait and see if the authorities will bother to listen or remain ignorant like they have always been.
“No matter the outcome, we believe putting forward these amendments is important, and we welcome both supportive and critical views to strengthen the process further. We consulted with both the community and the Government in putting forward the amendments, and while I’m sure both sides may wish we proposed (or not proposed) something different, we think these are reasonable grounds for debate that address the central concerns of this Bill”.
The next Parliament sitting is on 6 May.