The Elections Department (ELD) recently filed a police report claiming New Naratif of publishing five paid advertisements during the GE2020 campaign period. ELD accused New Naratif of violating the Parliamentary Elections Act. As the Act only allows election advertising which is done by or made on behalf of a candidate, the ELD said New Naratif was going against the law by publishing these five Facebook ads.
However New Naratif remains firm and called the police complaint an act of harassment to strike fear into government critics and citizenry, and an abuse of the law. New Naratif also responded that the law was written too broadly and therefore ELD could use the Elections Act to make legitimate political activity illegal without a permit.
New Naratif pointed out that it had been the victim of mounting attacks. The company was previously denied from being registered in Singapore by Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Minister of Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam also went to great lengths to grill Thum Pingtjin's credentials and even questioned New Naratif's motives and source of funding. New Naratif had also been issued two POFMA correction notices for "fake news."
On 21 Sep 2020 New Naratif updated that Thum Ping Tjin (PJ Thum) had been hauled up by the police for questioning at Clementi Police Station over the ELD police report. After a lengthy hours-long police interview, the police brought PJ Thum home and his laptop was seized as evidence during this raid.
Even international organisations like International Press Institute (IPI) have denounced the police actions against New Naratif as it is a new blow against press freedom.
Has journalism become a crime here?