97 per cent of Singaporeans support charging Lianhe Zaobao under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) for spreading fake news. This was according to an online poll conducted by Wake Up Singapore.
The poll asked “Should Lianhe Zaobao be charged under POFMA for faking an interview with a student to allege that you can get COVID-19 even if you stay home?”.
Over 1,500 people responded to the poll. By an overwhelming majority, 97 per cent of respondents selected “YES” and only 3 per cent “NO”.
Lianhe Zaobao was previously embroiled in a public scandal after a Singaporean student from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) accused the newspaper of fabricating an interview to publish an article.
The student was approached by a Zaobao journalist but did not give consent to the newspaper to publish his personal content from his Instagram account. The journalist went ahead with the story anyway and the article with the fabricated interview was circulated on Zaobao’s print edition as well as its online and social media sites.
The article carried the unverified and alarming headline that an NTU student contracted COVID-19 despite staying home during the circuit breaker period. In the existing climate of fear and uncertainty, such alarmist headlines are bound to generate unnecessary panic.
To date, POFMA has been invoked against opposition parties, alternative news websites, and individual Singaporeans.