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Civil society condemns AGC’s prosecution of Ariffin Sha over retracted miscarriage story

46 organizations and individuals unite in condemning AGC’s criminal defamation charges against Wake Up Singapore’s admin, Ariffin Sha. They highlight the unjustifiably punitive nature of the charges, exacerbating the challenges faced by the already struggling independent media landscape.

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SINGAPORE: 46 organisations and individuals in Singapore’s civil society have issued a joint statement to condemn the Attorney- -General’s Chambers (AGC)’s decision to charge Ariffin Sha, the administrator of Wake Up Singapore (WUSG) with criminal defamation for a story that the platform retracted, apologised for and corrected two years ago.

The joint statement, issued on Wednesday (15 May), expressed deep concern over Ariffin’s subjected to multiple rounds of investigations, culminating in what was deemed as a disproportionately punitive measure.

The statement noted that the hallmark of a healthy media environment is one where peers in the media have ownership over best practices, proactively address mistakes, and publications are able to self-correct, demonstrating transparency and accountability when there are lapses, without state intervention.

The group acknowledged that upon recognizing their error, WUSG promptly retracted the story, issued an unreserved apology, and provided a comprehensive and transparent account of the incident.

The group noted that it is significant that all this was done before even the POFMA order was issued, indicating that, in fact, there was no need for the state to step in. WUSG also complied with the POFMA order right away.

“Given all this, the AGC’s decision to charge Ariffin with criminal defamation two years after the fact is bizarre, ” the joint statement wrote.

Organisations and individuals endorsed the statement to show solidarity with Ariffin are peers in civil society and independent media workers.

Among them are: Workers Make Possible, Migrant Workers Singapore, SgpforPalestine48, Function 8, New Naratif,  For The Children SG, Transformative Justice Collective, writer Alfian Sa’at, Theatre Practitioner Han Xuemei, Kirsten Han, Roy Ngerng and others.

Last month, Mr Ariffin was charged in court for allegedly publishing a misleading article online that claimed a woman suffered a miscarriage due to mishandling at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).

The article, titled “The baby is probably dead – Woman shares a harrowing account of her miscarriage at KKH A&E,” was posted on 23 March 2022, on the website and social media pages of WUSG.

The story alleged that the woman miscarried after a prolonged four-hour wait for COVID-19 treatment and abdominal pain management at KKH’s Accident & Emergency Department on 28 February 2022.

KKH responded by filing a police report two days after the article was published.

WUSG had earlier issued an apology after the woman featured in the article admitted to fabricating her story.

Lack of justification for such disproportionately punitive criminal charges

The civil society group emphasized the lack of justification for such disproportionately punitive criminal charges, which only serve to reinforce fear and censorship, further diminishing the already limited and under-resourced independent media landscape.

Highlighting their status as volunteers within civil society and independent media spaces, they acknowledged operating with minimal capacity.

While committed to responsibly serving Singaporean communities and readers, they lamented their stretched resources and the unequal playing field they must navigate.

“We work in a precarious and hostile environment where we are over-policed and under-supported. ”

“A punitive culture in which media workers have to worry about being sued, fined or jailed when we fall short is an environment in which no one can be brave enough to take any risks or report on stories that are difficult yet important to tell.”

The group decried how laws have been used in Singapore against civil society and independent media work.

The group condemned the use of laws in Singapore against civil society and independent media work, citing instances where civil and criminal defamation laws, alongside legislation such as amended contempt laws and POFMA, have been wielded against activists, opposition figures, bloggers, and independent media outlets.

“When these laws are applied, they can have the effect of silencing activists, independent media workers and civilians.”

“The imbalance in who speaks or can be heard gets further entrenched, to the detriment of all Singaporeans. We are reminded of how out-matched the average Singaporean is by the resources of the state or people in powerful, well- paid positions.”

Expressing concern over the loss of several independent media voices in recent years, including the closure of The Online Citizen in 2021 due to government harassment and legal action, they emphasized the critical need to preserve independent voices that challenge dominant narratives and expose uncomfortable truths.

 

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Can gutzy.asia run the story re Shanmu vs Teo Ser Lung…re drug laws in sg etc.
Thank you

C’mon, … the AGC’s “selective and specific prosecution” is not news is it !!!

It’s agenda and target/s are in sync with the regime’s !!!

Get over it, … unless one is prepared to evoke change !!!

Sometimes investigation revealed there is malicious intention rather than innocent mistake, that is why further action is taken. Sometimes damage is done and cannot be reversed, a simple apology may not be suffice. Example a person reported a bomb threat at some place causing panic commotion and apprehension and triggered massive manpower and resources to investigate. He subsequently admitted is just a hoax and apologise or blame someone for providing him the false information, will he be simply let off and is it fair? He definitely has to take some responsibility on the impact rather than just hear the news… Read more »

False story. Apologies and corrections were put up. It should suffice. Carrying on will beg the question of the AGC’s actual intent.

ST also often wrote inaccurate articles.
Why never prosecuted them even once?
I guess …
BIRDS OF THE SAME FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER?

Did they ever say sorry?!? No, subliminally say Sorry NoT sorry. And you expect good relationship with this kind of snark comment?!? Toggle ppl between being a migrants and local for your benefit But never once address my issues. You gotta be kidding me. Now run parallel with a PM with certain highlighted attributes that run parallel with me. You tell me How I Should Feel about you Arse Adult ways of mocking others!?! Tell me!!?!! Then say ppl sensitive or mental health issues. You arse men wanna chase for ur arse power and money. Go do it and stop… Read more »

Just becos they make one as an example means they are always right. Why they dun bring in my case?? Blotched Amk women Clinic doctor job ex doc from kkh transfer to kkh with intern bleeding …

The THREAT and SHOWING its TEETH, it’s law JAWS to BITE to CHEW Singaporeans is VERY VERY REALLY WORSENING.

If voting the PAP into POWER AGAIN is NOT DISTRESSING, what is?

Think think think.

Think for the lives of your children, your grandchildren – STUNTED, Intellectually RETARDED, dependent on Foreigners for their DAILY 3 meals, renting flats from Foreign Trash, except Country Defence, most possibly?

Theyre making him an example to others…

Blatant corrupted legal system. Let the voters jury decide this coming GE.
Lawless Wong, this charge broke our dreams. How.

Last edited 5 days ago by 80twenty

The woman fabricated the story. She lied. WUSG just reported what she said. Upon discovering that it was a lie, retracted and issued an apology. WUSG was still charged anyway.

Likewise, the US fabricated that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The Straits Times just reported that lie. The embargo and invasion caused hunger, suffering, and deaths of ordinary Iraqis (Saddam was living well in his palace).

Should the Straits Times be charged for criminal defamation by the international courts for reporting that lie?

Please Respect the Loo Of Raw

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