The Workers’ Party (WP) has spoken out against the proposed fake news law on Tuesday (7 May) with its Member of Parliament (MP) for Aljunied GRC Low Thia Khiang saying it is a ploy by the government to cement its “absolute power”.
Low warned in Parliament that the draft law comes with a hidden agenda by the government.
“To introduce such a bill is not what the government claims to defend democracy and public interest, it is more like the actions of a dictatorial government that will resort to any means to hold on to absolute power,” said Low, who was speaking in Mandarin.-Low Thia Khiang
Low cited the provisions in the law which gives ministers far-reaching powers to determine what is online falsehood, saying it is akin to a minister who is both a player and a referee during a match.
Secretary General Pritam Singh launched another salvo at the amendments to the Protection From Harassment Act (POHA). Singh remarked that the decision to exempt the Government from being sued should it perpetuate a falsehood is a “glaring omission and a lost opportunity at winning the trust of the public”
The amendments to POHA include criminalising the act of doxxing, which is defined as the publishing of someone’s personal information such as their photos, contact numbers or employment details with the intention to harass.
The amendments will also include the setting up of a Protection from Harassment court.
Under the Bill, public agencies are conveniently excluded.
“What this effectively means is that an individual or company cannot apply to the Harassment Courts in case the Government makes misleading or false statements against them,”-Pritam Singh
This glaring omission that Singh described flies against the face of a long-established principle of equality under law.
Under Clause 61 of the draft fake news law, ministers likewise have the power to exempt any person or class of persons from all provisions under the law. Critics have raised concerns that this clause could be abused for political purposes.