Singapore's newly-passed Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill (POFMA) has definitely caused a stir. It is not just among Singaporeans, but foreigners as well.

In a Facebook post yesterday, the Foreign Correspondents Association of Singapore aired its dissatsfaction towards the way Singapore wants to combat fake news and asked for the Government to reconsider enacting POFMA.

It expressed grave concerns that POFMA will stifle press freedom and result in excessive, unnecessary self-censorship. 

What's more, the Bill is too wide-ranging and does not consider the job of journalists at all. 

"We regularly file stories as situations develop and facts are still emerging. This can mean - as in the case of the Sri Lanka attacks - that we have to report contradictory accounts, with the caveat that the reports are unconfirmed. It is imperative that the independence and the integrity of our reporting is preserved and protected, and we are concerned this bill undermines that."

Furthermore, the FCA finds it unacceptable that POFMA allows Ministers to be arbiters of truth.

"Although it has been pointed out by the government that court appeals are permissible, the reality is that it is highly onerous and expensive to do this. It is unlikely that news organisations would have the resources to do this."

Pretty sure they are not taking into account the plight of all Singaporeans, much less freedom of speech or the like. And by the way, if Singaporeans' objection did not make a difference to the passing of the Bill, what makes them think a foreign committee will stand a chance?



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