The Ministry of Law of Singapore enforced the country’s fake news law Tuesday against Lee Hsien Yang, the younger brother of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, for a Facebook post regarding recent political scandals involving the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP). In the Facebook post published on July 23, Lee Hsien Yang claimed that “[t]rust in the PAP has been shattered,” referring to several recent incidents involving high-profile officials in the government and the PAP.
Under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), if the Singapore government deems certain online information false or misleading, it has the authority to compel the publisher to insert links to fact-checking statements, to censor the information and to invoke criminal charges. Following the POFMA order, Lee Hsien Yang issued a correction notice on his Facebook on Tuesday.
The post comes as scandal in the Singaporean government has mounted. In May, the Corruption Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) of Singapore conducted an investigation of two ministers for their rentals of state-owned colonial-era bungalows over allegations that they had used their position in the government to gain unfair privilege, though the final report published by the CPIB found no evidence of wrongdoing. On July 12, the CPIB announced that the country’s Transport Minister was being investigated for corruption. On July 17, the Speaker of Parliament submitted a resignation letter following the revelation of his extramarital affair with another member of parliament, who also resigned on the same day.
In recent weeks, Singapore authorities have invoked POFMA several times for various types of online content concerning recent political scandals. On July 20, a POFMA order was issued for an article about the CPIB’s investigation of the transport minister on Political Sophistry, an online political blog. On July 16, an article about the two ministers’ rentals of state-owned bungalows was designated as false information, and two Facebook posts regarding the same issue were given a POFMA order.