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Chitchat NMP Kok's Comment on Fake News


Old Timer
Excellent points from Kok who has a huge following in view of his incisive views, comments and thoroughly fair.

Sadly because of Govt actions, we now have to depend on Parliament plus Mothership and Independent etc for views that many Singaporeans associate with. Gone are good blogs.

We hope the Select Committee on fake news pays attention to NMP Kok Heng Leun’s speech
The NMP with the arts background went against the grain and raised some meaningful concerns.

By Sulaiman Daud |
January 12, 2018

So now we know who’s going to be on the Select Committee to investigate the problem of fake news or what has been termed “deliberate online falsehoods”

The Committee of Selection announced the names of the 10 MPs who will take part on Jan. 11. We analysed what each member brought to the table, which you can read in the article below.

Foreign influence
Previously, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam emphasised thatconvening the Select Committee was important for preventing foreign influence in Singapore’s affairs. Said Shanmugam in Parliament:

“Countries across the world have been the subject of organised, deliberate disinformation campaigns, conducted both by state actors, many state actors targeted at destabilising other countries, and also non-state actors.

And they spread the falsehoods deliberately, both to interfere with the democratic processes within countries, and to also destabilise and undermine institutions within a specific country.”

To underscore the point, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim cited a non-online example of foreign interference in our media.

He referenced the case of The Eastern Sun, which was exposed by the Government for receiving HK$8 million from a Communist intelligence agency in return for not opposing the People’s Republic of China on major issues.

A note of concern
While supportive of the motion, NMP and theatre veteran Kok Heng Leun raised a number of concerns that are worth looking at more in-depth.

1. Difference between falsehoods and errors?
He began by saying that the Select Committee should not focus on errors made when one party has an honest belief in the facts, but instead on deliberate, malicious falsehoods.

He mentioned that in the UK, there was a call from Parliament for the public to define fake news, and one comment stuck with him.

“Where does biased but legitimate commentary shade into propaganda and lies?”

Kok mentioned that as the Government has advocated for a more active citizenry, with more Singaporeans speaking up through online platforms, it should take care not to silence dissenting voices.

“We do not want a heavy-handed approach that would rule out constructive, though at times disagreeable voices.”

2. Strike a balance
Kok said that if new legislation is introduced, it needs to balance the interests of protecting national security and preserving public order, with the interests of:

  • Enabling individuals to have meaningful discussions, including on government policies, without fear of having action taken against them.
  • Enabling the media, both professional and citizen journalists, to report on such issues of concern.
He described a possible “responsible journalism” defence, where a media outlet could be free from liability if it made efforts to establish whether an incident did take place, such as contacting the authorities.

If it later turns out to be inaccurate, the media should therefore not be blamed. He also questioned if the media should be responsible if it merely reports what someone says without endorsing it.


3. Existing laws as a starting point
Kok invited the Select Committee to look at existing laws related to the communication of falsehoods as a starting point, such as the:

Earlier, Yaacob had referenced the case of the now-defunct website The Real Singapore, which in Feb. 2015 published a false article about a Filipino family complaining about the noise from a Thaipusam procession involving Indian Singaporeans.

Kok acknowledged the Government’s effective response, but argued that as the matter was dealt with so swiftly, it demonstrates that current laws and existing provisions have been effective in dealing with fake news.

Kok said that while the current laws might not be perfect, they do give the authorities broad powers, and perhaps they should be reviewed instead of introducing new laws.

He added that citizens themselves needed to be more responsible and improve their media literacy:

“Hence (in) this age of social media, the people’s responsibility then must include the ability to discern and make up their mind what news are dubious and what are falsehoods.”
4. Recommendations for the Select Committee
Kok then had some suggestions for the Select Committee to keep in mind while it deliberates the issue.

Kok’s points were a refreshing change of pace. Let’s hope the Select Committee takes his words to heart.


Old Timer
Kok Heng Leun vs Snakemugam


Fake news could cause people to be disillusioned: Shanmugam

Nicholas Yong
Senior Correspondent
Yahoo News Singapore10 January 2018

If left unchecked, the deliberate threat of online falsehoods may destabilise Singapore by exploiting racial and religious fault lines, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in Parliament on Wednesday (10 January).

“Wide spreading of falsehoods can drown out the facts, can cause people to be disillusioned, can be manipulated to create rifts and damage social cohesion,” said the minister. “Ultimately, if left unchecked, such deliberate spread of falsehoods can undermine trust in the country, in its institutions, in democracy and affect social cohesion.”

Shanmugam was speaking on his proposed motion that the House appoint a Select Committee to examine the causes and consequences of deliberate online falsehoods, and the countermeasures that will be required to prevent and combat them here.

Singapore is ‘highly susceptible’

He noted that countries across the world have been the subject of “organised, deliberate disinformation campaigns”, conducted both by state actors and non-state actors. The Republic itself is “highly susceptible” for three reasons.

Firstly, the high Internet penetration in Singapore, with more than 91 per cent of Singaporean households having Internet access.

Secondly, the country’s diversity as a multi-racial, multi-religious society, which makes it easy to exploit fault lines through falsehoods. For example, last June, a fake story circulated that cat and dog food were mixed into a satay marinade at a Geylang bazaar.

“People can and have targeted specific sections of populations. They can target specific sections of our population, using falsehoods based on race, religion,” noted Shanmugam.

Thirdly, Singapore’s position in the region and internationally, which makes the country an attractive target. The minister said, “What we say on regional issues, financial issues carries weight. If we can be influenced and swayed, then foreign interests can be advanced through us.”

Speaking in support of the motion, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said that the issue goes beyond battling falsehoods, and is about protecting Singapore against those who wish to do the country harm.

He pointed to the defunct socio-political site The Real Singapore (TRS), which his ministry shut down in 2015. It published “clickbait” and “sensational articles”, such as a February 2015 post which falsely claimed that a Filipino family had complained about the noise from Thaipusam celebrations. This fuelled anti-foreigner sentiment, said Yaacob.

The TRS editors were eventually jailed for sedition.

Yaacob cited a government poll in May last year that showed two out of three Singaporeans were unable to recognise some or all of falsities while one in four admitted that they had shared news that was later found to be fake.

And while organisations such as the National Library Board have developed programs to raise media literacy, the minister stressed that public education is not enough. Instead, mechanisms to combat fake news are needed.


Old Timer
Agree. Look at the Select committee. Pritam's presence is to give it a sense of credibility but the majority will overwhelm him. Ms Chia Yong Yong , the NMP is as PAP as they come and complete apologist beyond belief. Janil is worse than Shan. Its like asking a bunch of carnivores to spell out the virtues of being a vegan.

With Shan involved he won't give a shit about Kok tok.


Old Timer
the Select Committe should have 1 or 2 foreign members as observer

Nam Wee is the best person

tok east, tok west, tok 3, tok 4



Staff member
Old Timer
The Singapore authorities seem to far more averse to REAL news rather than the fake stuff.

Take sammyboyforum.com as an example all the news there is the real deal. The whores are real, the dialogue is genuine, the orgies and tarma sessions described in great deal are for the most part accurate. There is often photographic and video evidence to back up the facts.

However that has not stopped the MDA from constantly making life very difficult. The site has been repeatedly blocked and every time this happens I have to spend a ton of money, time and effort getting things going again.

This is hardly the way to treat a loyal Singaporean that has done nothing more than promote the real Singapore to the rest of the world.