Singapore Invokes “Fake News” Law for the First Time

Singapore Invokes "Fake News" Law for the First Time

A politician has become the first person to fall afoul of Singapore's new Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) after posting a misleading statement on Facebook.

In the incriminating social media post published on November 13, British-born Singaporean Brad Bowyer alleged that the Singapore government had influenced decisions made by state investment firms Temasek Holdings and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC).

In a statement released earlier today, the Singapore government wrote: "The Facebook post by Mr. Brad Bowyer contains false statements of fact and misleading statements.

"The Government does not influence, let alone direct, the individual investment decisions made by Temasek and GIC. Which companies they invest in, or divest from, is entirely the responsibility of their respective management teams. The Government likewise does not interfere in the commercial decisions of Temasek’s and GIC’s portfolio companies.

"Temasek and GIC are run on market principles, independent of the Government. Many of their portfolio companies are publicly listed. The Government’s role is to ensure that Temasek and GIC have competent boards, which ensure that their respective mandates are met. The Government also holds the boards of Temasek and GIC accountable for their respective overall performances."

Mr. Bowyer also asserted that Temasek had invested in a debt-ridden parent company that owns the chain of restaurants Salt Bae. In reality, Salt Bae is owned by D.ream International BV, which operates 60 restaurants throughout the world via four operating subsidiaries. 

In response to another allegation made by Bowyer that $4bn in investments made by GIC and related parties in Andhra Pradesh had all been doing poorly, the Singapore government wrote: "Mr. Bowyer makes this sweeping statement but gives no basis for it."

Under the new "fake news" law POFMA, Singapore's finance minister contacted Bowyer with a request to correct his erroneous Facebook post. Bowyer complied, posting a correction notice today along with a link to the government's statement in which his falsehoods were outlined.  

Along with the correction, Bowyer wrote: "I have no problem in following that request as I feel it is fair to have both points of view and clarifications and corrections of fact when necessary. I do my best to use public facts and make informed statements of opinion based on the details I have access too. [sic]

"I am not against being asked to make clarifications or corrections especially if it is in the public interest. In general, I caution all those who comment on our domestic politics and social issues to do so with due care and attention especially if you speak from any place of influence."

Source: Information Security Magazine