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SINGAPORE — Alternative news website The Independent Singapore was issued a correction direction under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) on Friday (22 April) for an article that gave the impression that Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam may be stepping down from his ministerial positions.
The article, headlined "K Shanmugam says he may step down as Singapore’s Minister of Law and Home Affairs” and published on Thursday, had referred to Shanmugam's interview with Tamil-language news platform Vanakkam Malaysia from earlier this month. The minister had shared a link to the video interview in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
The article was published on The Independent Singapore's website, Facebook page and Twitter account. In addition, the writer Toh Han Shih also shared it on his Twitter account on Thursday.
"The headline was clickbait, giving the false impression that the Minister for Law and Home Affairs said he may be stepping down from his ministerial positions," the Ministry of Law said in a media release on Friday.
"Additionally, the first paragraph of the article stated that the Minister 'revealed' in an interview with Vanakkam Malaysia that he may step down as Singapore’s Minister for Law and Home Affairs, but gave no specific time as to when he might do so. Again, this gave the false impression that the Minister said he may be stepping down from his ministerial positions."
Reaffirmed willingness and desire to serve Singapore
Factually, the government-run website that clarifies falsehoods, said that during the interview, Shanmugam was asked: "Have you ever felt politics is not allowing you to be true to yourself and regretted about it?"
In his reply, Shanmugam had reaffirmed his willingness and desire to serve Singapore. He stated, "I consider serving people as a privilege. Not everyone will get the chance.
"I am here as a minister because of people’s support and love. The moment when there is no support, I must be ready to leave. When there are capable leaders to replace me then I should be ready to move on too. Only then will the country progress.
"I have maintained transparency in both my words and actions. I clearly tell the public what are the challenges and what do we need to do to overcome them. I will continue to do that. The moment when I feel I can’t keep to that anymore, I will leave my ministerial posts.”
The Ministry of Law said in its media release that it is "quite false" for the article to state, from the interview, that Shanmugam said he may be stepping down from his positions.
"In addition, viewing the whole video will show that the Minister, when he spoke about his own views, also intended his comments to be of general application, for persons holding Ministerial appointments (when seen in the context of past comments of the PAP leadership, and history of the PAP)," it added.
Website, writer instructed to carry correction notices
The ministry said that Shanmugam has instructed for correction directions under POFMA to be issued to both The Independent Singapore and Toh.
Both will be required to carry correction notices on their online platforms that published the article, stating that it contains a false statement of fact.
Toh had put up a correction notice at 1.04pm on Friday. As of 2.45pm on Friday, the Facebook post by The Independent Singapore was still without a correction notice.
This tweet contains a false statement of fact that the Minister for Law and Home
Affairs, K Shanmugam, said he may be stepping down from his ministerial
positions. For the correct facts, click here:https://t.co/2YNgkFPvM7 https://t.co/o7xIM99pHs
— toh han shih (@tohhanshih) April 22, 2022
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