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The Independent Singapore, activist to be directed to ‘set facts straight’ on single mum eviction claims

SINGAPORE — A sociopolitical website and an activist are to be directed to carry correction notices alongside two Facebook posts and an article on a single mother of six children who, they claimed, were evicted from her government-built rental flat because she could not pay her rent.

The Independent Singapore, activist to be directed to ‘set facts straight’ on single mum eviction claims

Activist Gilbert Goh and The Independent Singapore website published material claiming that a single mother of six had been evicted from her government-built rental flat because she could not pay the rent.

SINGAPORE — A sociopolitical website and an activist are to be directed to carry correction notices alongside two Facebook posts and an article on a single mother of six children who, they claimed, were evicted from her government-built rental flat because she could not pay her rent.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) said in a statement on Wednesday (Feb 26) that it had directed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office to issue these correction directions to The Independent Singapore website and Mr Gilbert Goh.

“They will be required to carry a correction notice alongside their posts,” it said.

On Feb 19, Mr Goh had published a post on his personal Facebook page alleging that a single mother named Lina and her six children had been evicted from their Housing and Development Board (HDB) rental flat due to a rental default, and that they have been living at her sister’s house.

This post was later republished by The Independent Singapore on its website on Feb 21 with the headline: “Single mum with six kids evicted for failing to pay rent”, after it approached Mr Goh for more details. The same allegations were made in a Facebook post by the website on Feb 21.

MND said on Tuesday that the claims are “entirely false” and listed two reasons.

The first reason was that HDB did not evict the woman from her rental flat.

“Lina was previously living in an HDB rental flat with her husband and children. The family did not have any overdue rent throughout the period of the last tenancy,” MND said.

The ministry added that Lina’s husband terminated the tenancy for the rental flat and returned the keys to HDB in early February this year.

The second reason was that Lina and her husband have since bought and moved into a new HDB flat, which has been paid in full.

MND said that Lina and her husband clarified with HDB staff members, who visited them in their new flat on Feb 22, that it was a relative who had approached Mr Goh for assistance.

In Mr Goh’s Facebook post, he quoted Lina as saying that she had just applied for the Community Care Endowment Fund (ComCare) and she needed “help for food rations if possible”.

In a follow-up post about the case on Feb 21, Mr Goh thanked his followers for their “outpouring of kindness and generosity” towards Lina and her family.

He also said that he had visited the family the day before and delivered some food aid, along with a red packet (containing money) as well as some shopping vouchers.

MND clarified in its statement that Lina and her family have been receiving assistance — including cash, vouchers, subsidies and food rations — from various government agencies and community partners.

These agencies and partners include the Ministry of Social Development (MSF), the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), HDB and the Sembawang Family Service Centre.

“The family also received food rations and supermarket vouchers from their local grassroots organisation,” it said.

The ministry said that HDB rental flats cater to needy Singaporean households who have no other housing options and no family support.

“HDB works closely with other agencies and community partners, such as the Social Service Offices and Family Service Centres, to provide support to rental tenants,” it said.

“The false statements reported by Mr Goh and The Independent Singapore give the impression that HDB has deprived a needy family of public rental housing because of their inability to pay for it. This is not the case and it is important to set the facts straight.”

In a Facebook post on Wednesday night, Mr Goh said that he has filed a police report against the person he had helped.

"This is not the first time we have helped the family and perhaps the familiarity with her situation blunted us to look for further verification of her current true condition," he said.

Lina has returned some of the cash donations given to her, a total of S$610, and Mr Goh said that he will return the amount to the donors.

He also said that the Pofma Office has instructed him to put up a correction order against the post and that he will comply within the given deadline.

Mr Goh apologised to MND for not verifying the story before posting, as well as to donors and sponsors who had provided aid to the family.

Related topics

Pofma Gilbert Goh MND HDB rental housing needy

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