In light of public debate and interest, the Ministry of Law has come out to defend the the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill (POFMA), stating that the powers of the government, defined under the Bill, is more limited to the powers than the government already posses.
A Senior Council from RPC Premier Law pointed towards the Broadcasting Act as well as other legislation that enables the government to take action against unfavourable online content that are not in the interest of the public. The said Act provides the government with more scope and power to tackle such news, as compared to POFMA. A Law Ministry spokesperson concurred with the opinion that the POFM is a "more measured and calibrated approach" that the government will be adopting.
There remains the question of procedural independence in terms of appeals and legal recourse, as well as defining in more simple yet clearer terms of what constitute a false statement of fact as opposed to an opinion. The Min Law spokesperson referred to the existence of legal theory on the matter to address the concerns.
Therein lies the issue. The average Singaporean are not well versed with, and do not concern ourselves with legal theory.
What we concern ourselves with is that the government serves the interest of the public and that power remains in the hands of the people, and not the political, governing "elite".
If the POFMA is a more nuanced approach, then the government has to explain, and state upfront, and clearly, what these nuances are. There must be no room for confusion over interpretation.
Only then can Singaporeans feel empowered, and not curtailed, by POFMA.