Workers’ Party MP Denis Tan voiced his concerns over the chilling effect the POFMA Bill would have in Singapore, when speaking out in Parliament against the Fake News bill. He cited concerns over the lack of clarity over what would constitute “in the public interest” under the law as some of the definitions provided were too general or lacked a precise scope.
On one particular definition, the “diminution of confidence in government” as a cause for the Government to act against false statements, he cautioned that this definition may deter bona fide criticisms, and well-intentioned exposes of Governmental failings. He also reiterated the Party’s position that the government should not be the decision maker issuing directives on statements alleged to be falsehoods, and highlighted the problem of asymmetric information.
His full statement is quoted here: “We do not have a Freedom of Information regime and well-meaning citizens may not have the same access to information unlike the Government and complaints may have arisen from well-meaning people where it may not be convenient to disclose the source of their information.
In the situation where the Government has access to certain information and for whatever reason refuses to disclose full facts in the first place, even on request, it would be unfair to penalise anyone arising from a media report or something discussed in social media.”
In any case, has anyone ever won when challenging the Minister or the Singapore Government over anything?