POFMA order issued to Facebook pages of SDP, PV and TOC over false 10m population statement

Vernon Lee
·Senior Editor
·3-min read
SDP chief Chee Soon Juan, Peoples Voice Lim Tean and The Online Citizen. (PHOTOS: Yahoo News Singapore , The Online Citizen Asia / Facebook)
SDP chief Chee Soon Juan, Peoples Voice Lim Tean and TheOnlineCitizen. (PHOTOS: Yahoo News Singapore , The Online Citizen Asia / Facebook)

UPDATE: This story has been updated to say the SDP is complying but will be applying to cancel the correction order.

SINGAPORE — The POFMA Office has issued correction orders to the Facebook pages of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and Peoples Voice (PV) for a false statement that the CEO of the Housing & Development Board had suggested Singapore’s population will increase to 10 million by 2030.

The orders, on the instruction by the Alternate Authority for the Minister for National Development, were also issued to The Online Citizen Asia with respect to an article on its website and Facebook page, as well as the Facebook page of Sin Rak Sin Party.

“This is with regard to false statements of fact claiming that a statement made by Dr Cheong Koon Hean at the IPS-Nathan Lectures in 2018 suggested that our population would increase to 10 million by 2030. Dr Cheong made no statement suggesting that our population would increase to 10 million by 2030,” said the POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act) Office.

The POFMA office said that the government has clarified on multiple occasions that Singapore’s total population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030.

In addition, the POFMA office issued a Targeted Correction Direction to Facebook to apply a correction notice on posts on its platform with a picture carrying the same falsehoods.

This direction is issued to an internet intermediary, whose service was used to communicate a falsehood that affects public interest, and requires it to communicate a correction notice to its users in Singapore who can access the falsehood.

Singapore’s population growth has been a subject of heated discussions by several political parties ahead of the upcoming General Election.

During a televised debate on Wednesday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan and the representative for the ruling People’s Action Party rebuked SDP chief Chee Soon Juan for his “false statement” that the government plans to increase the country’s population to 10 million.

Dr Chee cited an article in the Straits Times which he claimed that Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had stated the figure at a forum.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a media release to say the government has not proposed, planned nor targeted for Singapore to increase its population to 10 million.

Heng later addressed the same points in the PMO statement and said, “As the Straits Times clarified this morning, I did not say that Singapore should plan to increase its population to 10 million people, nor did I mention the figure.”

The Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh also spoke about the issue on Friday when he was asked by reporters about the exchange between Dr Balakrishnan and Dr Chee during a walkabout in Punggol. The WP candidate for Aljunied GRC in the GE questioned why the government had not clarified its position earlier.

The SDP said on Sunday that it has to comply with the POFMA direction but will be applying to cancel the correction order.

Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to the PV and Facebook for comment.

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