Op Ed : Fake News Laws in Singapore

Op Ed : Fake News Laws in Singapore

I have been wondering why there has been little traction with the objections towards the fake news laws.

One criticism is that letting Ministers have the first say in take-down orders puts too much power in their hands.

Apart from most Singaporeans being more interested in material values and bread and butter issues, one reason why there hasn’t been more outcry is the high trust that Singaporeans have in the current Government.

The latest Edelman trust survey shows that 67% trust the Government – this is one of the highest in the world. The majority thus trust that Ministers would use the law judiciously.

One valid objection is however this – what happens if one day a Government with less trust from the people is elected ?

In this case people might not be so happy to have the same powers vested in Ministers. This is a good objection. Many of the rest are red herrings.

For example, some are saying the laws are too broad, too open to interpretation, anything can become fake news etc etc. These isn’t correct.

Judicial systems all over the world have a well-established system in ascertaining what is a fact.

And laws all over the world are by necessity broad in order to cover all scenarios. A rogue leader can abuse the best-drafted laws. So for example, the current US President has called the illegal immigrant problem a ‘national emergency’ and thus invoked powers to divert funds. It has just today labelled the Iranian national elite military force a ‘terrorist organisation’.

So the way to guard against a government we don’t trust, is to take elections seriously.

Every 5 years we have a chance to put into place leaders we can trust to make decisions for us. This is representative democracy.

What the PAP can do is to make sure that this institution is strong, because even they cannot assure that good people will always be found.

For example, GRCs need to be made smaller, so we balance racial representation with individual responsibility. Bad Ministers need to be sackable by themselves, without dragging down a whole team of MPs.

Electoral boundaries need to be more stable, or announced beforehand , so serious opposition politicians can work the ground, HDB block by HDB block. (This is what serious opposition politicians do. Remember this please!)

These are the suggestions sensible critics should be making.

Not making hifalutin statements on independent panels, human rights or co-ordinating with Western organisations and press to run Singapore down.

We will make our own way. We have always made our own way.

Our founding fathers have given us prosperity. Let’s treasure it.

We need to take the next elections seriously and vote wisely.

Trite ?

But true.

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