1. A post on the NTS Facebook page contains several false and misleading statements. The NTS page is run by Mr Alex Tan, who lives in Australia, and claims to be an Australian citizen.

Falsehoods

2. On 15 May 2020, NTS published a post, claiming, amongst other things, the following:

    a. “Every criticism has been outlawed by the Singapore government through its new POFMA1 legislation, where the politicians in power get to decide what is truth.” 

    b. The Minister for Law had issued a POFMA direction to ban a video.

3. The above are false, for the following reasons:

    It is false that “politicians in power get to decide what is truth” under POFMA. This had previously been explained when an earlier POFMA direction was issued. POFMA applies only to factual statements that are false (Section 2(2) of POFMA). It does not apply to opinions. If there is a dispute as to whether the statement is false, or whether it is a statement of fact, the dispute can be determined by the Courts. The Courts have, over centuries, developed criteria for assessing falsehoods, and will be the final arbiters of whether there is a falsehood under POFMA.

    For the reasons above, it is therefore also untrue to say that POFMA outlaws every criticism of the Government. Before and after POFMA came into force, the Government has been regularly criticised on various matters. These criticisms have not been subject to POFMA.

    The Minister for Law has not issued a POFMA direction to ban any video. The video subject to an earlier POFMA direction remains accessible to the public.
Additional Clarifications

4. Mr Tan repeats falsehoods that were subject to an earlier POFMA direction. In light of that earlier direction, Mr Tan must be aware that these statements are false and tend to undermine the public interest. Yet, he continues to publish falsehoods that distort the public’s understanding of the law and how it has been implemented.

5. Mr Tan makes serious and baseless allegations about Singapore’s judiciary being biased. These have been brought to the attention of the Attorney-General’s Chambers for assessment on whether the allegations are in contempt of court.

6. Mr Tan also claims that the Minister for Law faces criminal charges in Malaysia, and that a Malaysian court has made an order against the Minister for Law. These are untrue.

7. Mr Tan has previously been issued POFMA correction directions in relation to falsehoods conveyed on 6 separate occasions on his previous Facebook pages, the States Times Review and Singapore States Times. This demonstrates a clear pattern of deliberately spreading falsehoods which affect the public interest. The majority of these falsehoods related to the COVID-19 situation, including falsehoods suggesting that Singapore had run out of face masks, that there was an underreporting of COVID-19 cases here by the Government, that there were numerous infections because schools were not closed earlier and that foreign workers were not getting paid during quarantine.

8. Mr Tan was bound to comply with these correction directions, but has refused to comply. His previous pages were declared as declared online locations (Section 32 of POFMA) and subject to access disabling orders (Section 34 of POFMA) after his repeated non-compliance with the law. Mr Tan remains recalcitrant, and continues to purvey falsehoods, on his latest page.

[1]  “POFMA” refers to the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act.