Revised Statement on POFMA

10 December 2019

The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) is founded on the tenets of Transparency, Independence and Accountability. Measured against these values, the current form of Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) falls short.

Currently, POFMA empowers the Minister to declare a piece of news to be falsehood without requiring any criteria or standards.  This does not measure up to the standards of Transparency and Accountability.  And where the news involves the Government, it also fails the standard of Independence.

Online falsehoods can arise from 3 scenarios:

  1. Important facts, statistics and data are not made readily available and accessible to the public and hence guesses are made based on limited information;
  2. Negligence or failure to exercise more care by the purveyors of news in fact-checking; and
  3. Deliberate falsehoods where the purveyor intentionally sets out to mislead his/her audience.

PSP agrees that the Government needs to be able to act speedily to curb the viral spread of fake news.  For that, we support the need for Ministers to be empowered to demand news purveyors to post a link to a site where the Government can provide the facts to swiftly stop the spread of misinformation.

However, to declare any news as falsehood and to impose any penalties thereof, PSP is of the view that it should be done by the Courts of Singapore for Independence. The Courts would also have an established system and precedents of determining falsehood from its handling of cases like fraud, thereby ensuring Transparency and Accountability.