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SDP issued with new Pofma directive over Facebook post in 2019

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has been issued with a new correction direction under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), over a false statement that was made on its Facebook page close to two years ago.

SDP issued with new Pofma directive over Facebook post in 2019

An infographic and article on jobs and the employment of professionals, managers, executives and technicians in Singapore that was published by the Singapore Democratic Party in 2019.

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has been issued with a new correction direction under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), over a false statement that was made on its Facebook page close to two years ago.

The new correction direction — which was instructed by Manpower Minister Tan See Leng — was issued on Friday (Oct 8) after the Court of Appeal had partially allowed an appeal by the opposition political party against three correction directions.

A correction direction is issued when a falsehood is communicated that affects the public interest.

SDP had been issued these directions in 2019 by then-Manpower Minister Josephine Teo in relation to an article on jobs in Singapore and the employment of professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) here.

It had published the article on its website and two Facebook posts linking to it.

In a press release on Friday night, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that the subject statement in three of the directions was “Local PMET retrenchment has been increasing”.

It added that another subject statement in the third direction was “Local PMET employment has gone down”.

MOM said that the Court of Appeal upheld all three of the directions “in respect of the first subject statement and dismissed the SDP’s appeal in this regard”.

“This statement was false as shown by MOM’s data, which SDP did not challenge,” it added.

However, the Court of Appeal allowed a part of the SDP’s appeal with regards to the third direction in relation to the second subject statement.

MOM said that this is because the Court of Appeal found that the term “Local PMET employment” used in an infographic in SDP’s Facebook post — dated Dec 2 in 2019 — is to be understood as referring only to Singapore citizen PMETs, instead of both Singapore citizens and permanent residents.

“However, even if we consider only the employment of Singapore citizens in PMET jobs, SDP’s statement that such employment has gone down is still completely false,” it continued.

MOM noted that the number of Singaporeans employed in PMET positions has increased steadily from 2015 to 2019.

Therefore, Mr Tan has instructed the Pofma Office to issue a correction direction to the SDP in relation to this false statement of fact found in the party’s Facebook post on Dec 2, 2019, MOM added.

Earlier on Friday, the Court of Appeal laid out, for the first time, a five-step framework to determine whether or not to overturn a correction direction under Pofma.

The court ruled that Pofma was constitutional, and that the burden of proof lay on the person making the allegedly false statement and not the minister issuing the correction direction.

Related topics

SDP Pofma online falsehood MOM PMET court Tan See Leng

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