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The sheer irony: When state media misrepresents facts in their reports on POFMA

In their report on the designation of Gutzy Asia’s platforms as Declared Online Locations, state media, Channel News Asia and The Straits Times, falsely claimed Gutzy republished Kenneth Jeyaretnam’s statements. In fact, the POFMA office clarified that the correction was issued because Gutzy included a URL link to Jeyaretnam’s post.



On Tuesday, Mrs Josephine Teo, Singapore’s Minister of Communications and Information, issued a declaration designating Gutzy Asia’s website and social media pages on Facebook and X (formerly known as Twitter) as Declared Online Locations (DOLs) under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).

According to the Minister, this declaration was based on three directions issued with respect to at least three different false statements communicated on Gutzy’s online platforms.

  • 16 October 2023: Issued in regards to an article reporting the suicide of a female who was said to be a foreign domestic helper by Singapore Eye when she was a Singaporean.
  • 15 February 2024: Issued in regards to an article reporting on a Facebook post by Progress Singapore Party NCMP Leong Mun Wai about the financial status and assistance received by two residents.
  • 18 February 2024: Issued in regards to an article reporting on a Facebook post by Reform Party chief Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam about the properties at 26 and 31 Ridout Road rented by Mr Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Law, and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

Under the act, a Minister may declare an online location as a declared online location if three or more different statements that are the subject of one or more active Part 3 or Part 4 directions have been communicated on the online location within six months before the declaration date.

Therefore, if Mrs Teo wanted, she could have issued a DOL after the post on 15 February since there were already five false statements of facts, over the three required, but she didn’t. Instead, she waited until June, when the October post had lapsed the six-month period.

Setting aside the absurdity of issuing the declaration four months after the conditions for the DOLs were met—under a law that grants ministers exceptional powers for the sake of swiftly addressing misinformation—we turn to the troubling misrepresentation by the state media in their reports on the matter.

State media outlets, Channel News Asia (CNA) and The Straits Times (ST), reported that Gutzy Asia had republished a claim by Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam, leader of the Reform Party, which led to a correction direction issued on 18 February.

CNA stated, “The third was issued later that month after it republished a false claim made by Reform Party leader Kenneth Jeyaretnam about the rental of two state properties by ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan at Ridout Road.”

Similarly, ST reported, “On Feb 18, it said the Singapore Land Authority mismanaged state properties by charging Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan rent at below market value for 26 and 31 Ridout Road, and had given the ministers preferential tenancy terms.”

However, contrary to the claims in their report, the POFMA office clarified that Gutzy Asia was issued the correction direction not for republishing Mr Jeyaretnam’s statements but because the article included a URL link to his Facebook post.

This distinction is crucial as it highlights a significant misrepresentation by the state media, which wrongly gives the impression to readers that the publication had reproduced the false claim.

Even in its press release, the Ministry of Communication refrained from stating that Gutzy Asia had reproduced Mr Jeyaretnam’s claim. Instead, it merely stated that the platform is subject to the POFMA Correction Direction for the alleged falsehood.

CNA is owned and funded by Temasek, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, while ST operates under SPH Media Trust, which the Singapore government has pledged S$900 million to fund its operations and development. This financial relationship raises questions about the independence and objectivity of these media outlets.

Since the passing of the POFMA in 2019, the Singapore government has issued POFMA correction directions to counter falsehoods that it deems necessary to address and issued statements to decry the misinformation that is being spread.

However, when people are misrepresented in the reports of such issuance of directions, the government sits back and stays quiet.

This disparity in addressing misinformation suggests a troubling double standard and raises questions about what POFMA is really meant to achieve.

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Alas, if there was truly press freedom in SillyPore, an alternative paper with real journalists and real editors in search of the real truth in all SillyPore matters, … will have this very article on its front pages, … confirming the shit status, shit standards and shit nature of The Shit Times !!!

Obviously HOW to ownself scold ownself, or Ownself CONVICT and CONDEMN OWNSELF.

Should I strike Toto 13 Million as sole winner, then this would be time the PAPygapore get POFMA ownself unprecedentedly.

Other than that PAP Administration WON’T OWNSELF CORRUPT OWNSELF one. Even if there’s obvious CORRUPTION, that occured under the Bright Blue Sky, SG Parliament to the Rescue to Wash away. If use Phey Yew Kok as PERFECT example, Will the PAP Banish itself, say to Thailand.

Perhaps 1ST TIME, PAP Administration RECUSE themselves – Doomsday. Mayday.

This is really much to do about nothing. JT seems to have no work but to keep issuing POFMAs. The taxpayers’ costs to her employment is more than a million dollars.What are we getting in return? She approves $900m to fund ST that cannot sustain itself. State owned media funded by us Singaporeans but used by the PAP. At some point this has to stop and we have the power to end all this in the next elections. The PAP has until the next elections to bring in reforms to benefit the citizens and the State.It should not be using… Read more »

That what the Govt do. They keep quiet, pretend never see the post, dun address … No?!?

Just like my case … Let time lapse and think the relationship has healed. You never address, flip flop flip flop, change positions, change tune. Worst then expect Trust?!?