Despite public concerns over abuse of power, the ruling party PAP government passed the controversial Fake News law on the third day of Parliament sitting yesterday (May 8).
All 72 PAP MPs voted for the Bill, while all 9 Opposition WP MPs voted against it.
The Opposition party stated repeatedly that the PAP government cannot be trusted to impose the law fairly, and that the new censorship law is unfair due to a clause protecting the government from being sued over fabrication of fake news.
Ruling party ministers and MPs struggled to convince the Opposition during the two-day debates, with Law Minister K Shanmugam giving empty promises about not oppressing the freedom of speech.
This is also after over two years of extensive propaganda and even a public hearing seeking views from a few selected individuals. Singaporeans remain unconvinced by the need of the censorship law.
The new law will criminalise online content that the government deem as false. Singaporeans who criticise the government will have to hold back or face a hefty fine and jail sentence if their publications were declared “fake news” by the government.
Singapore’s ruling party has in recent years see sharp decline in popularity due to the rise of independent news media publishing without the ministry’s permission. The mainstream media in Singapore is a propaganda mouthpiece, whose editorial is under strict monitoring from the Ministry of Information and Communications. As of 2018, national newspapers Straits Times and CNA have a credibility ranking of 151st in the world for press freedom.