Workers Party Secretary-General and MP for Aljunied, Pritam Singh, said in Parliament that the WP opposes the Fake News Bill, and reiterated their stand that the Courts, and not Ministers, should be the decision maker of Fake News. He also said that there is a genuine sense among Singaporeans that this Bill can easily be abused in the wrong hands.
Pritam added, “While the government must legitimately be able to apply to shut down malicious actors, a court order should legitimise the action that needs to be undertaken.” He also said that the potential for abuse of power is there, once the Bill is passed. He cited Clause 2(2), which legislates that a statement can be deemed false if it is misleading — whether wholly or in part — which appears to give the Executive a “broad latitude” to clamp down what it deems to be misleading statements which may not be false.
Pritam also pointed out that the public has voiced out their concerns over this Bill, including the “diminution of public confidence in the government”, which he took to mean how thick or thin-skinned the government was. He cited the case of Nas Daily, who was allowed to hold an event at the Botanic Gardens without any permits required, which shows that the public’s perception of double standards on the government’s part.
This he felt, could easily apply to the Fake News Bill, which authorities might deem some anti-government players as propagating fake news, while pro-government’s voices are not penalised in the same manner.