In a recent interview, Lee Hsien Loong defended the impending implementation of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation legislation to combat fake news, saying that such fake news must be tackled before they impact the Singapore society. He also asserted his belief that the law would not curb free speech in Singapore, and would in fact, protect locals from manipulation from both internal and external actors.

Lee is missing the point.

Singaporeans are savvy enough to understand that they may be subjected to manipulation by foreign parties that stand to benefit from seeing a divided Singapore.

What Singaporeans who oppose the bill don't understand is that why the wording of the bill has to be vague. In short, Singaporeans want greater clarity on what constitutes fake news. Lee Hsien Loong saying that freedom of speech will not be curbed by its implementation does not provide any comfort to us.

The vague wording of the law means that it can be subjected to interpretations that are contested. What Singaporeans want is peace of mind to know that they can engage constructively without the fear of persecution.

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