The Wikipedia page for Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) fell prey to “malicious edits” on Wednesday afternoon, triggering questions about possible legal recourse for the party.
A Wikipedia user going by the moniker “AlikVesilev” inserted three lengthy paragraphs to the text, and changed two mentions of the party’s name to “Party Against People”.
Among other things, the user raised “proof of its suppression of freedom of speech” when referring to his assertion of the party making alleged directives to the Ministry of Health to back the dismissal of blogger Roy Ngerng by Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
“If I get arrested for editing this article, it shows that the government of Singapore is nothing but a fascist regime that should be wiped off the earth,” the user wrote, while exhorting Singaporeans to “make the right choice” and vote the opposition into Parliament come 2016. “Stay strong, keep calm and protest! I love you, Singapore!”
Speaking up against it on Friday afternoon was Tampines GRC Member of Parliament Baey Yam Keng, who is also the deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communication and Information.
“Wikipedia is an open-source platform that allows anyone to update facts,” he wrote in an Instagram post, which was also posted on his Facebook pages. “Changing the name of a party and launching a co-ordinated attack with malicious edits is not an acceptable code of conduct. There are avenues available to express one’s views, however differing and dissenting.”
The party reportedly discovered the edits on its Wikipedia page on Thursday morning, and tried to edit its content back to the original, but found that a number of other users were editing the page at the same time as well.
Baey stressed, however, that advocating legal action in response to the incident is not at the top of his mind, “nor is it PAP’s priority”. At the same time, he said he requested a file correction to be made to a report in national broadsheet The Straits Times that suggested he had called on the party to consider taking legal action.
Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced free encyclopaedia platform that allows any user who registers as a member on it to make changes to any of its pages -- this includes the addition and removal of any information or content.
Administrators do intervene occasionally in instances like this one, where its team posted a notice flagging the edited content for appearing "to constitute vandalism".