The Independent Singapore (TISG) pofma-ed over deceptive clickbait article on K Shanmugam

TISG, POFMA, Minister, Article, Shanmugan, Fake, News

A correction direction has been issued to The Independent Singapore (TISG) and Mr Toh  Han Shih.

TISG had, on 21 April 2022, published an article with the headline “K Shanmugam says he may step down as Singapore’s Minister of Law and Home Affairs” on its website, Facebook page and Twitter account. The headline was deceptive clickbait that gave the false impression that the Minister for Law and Home Affairs said he may be stepping down from his ministerial positions.

The falsity was repeated in the first paragraph of the article which stated that the Minister “revealed” in an interview with Vanakkam Malaysia that he may step down as Singapore’s Minister for Law and Home Affairs, but gave no specific time as to when he might do so.

Mr Toh Han Shih, the author of the article, also shared TISG’s article on his Twitter account on 21 April 2022.

TISG and Mr Toh will be required to carry correction notices on their online platforms that published the article, stating that it contains a false statement of fact.

The Minister did not say during the video interview with Vanakkam Malaysia that he may be stepping down from his ministerial positions or that he is contemplating doing so.

What Minister Shanmugam actually said during the interview

In reply to the interviewer’s question, “Have you ever felt politics is not allowing you to be true to yourself and regretted about it?”, Mr Shanmugam stated:

“… I consider serving people as a privilege. Not everyone will get the chance. … I am here as a minister because of people’s support and love. The moment when there is no support, I must be ready to leave. … When there are capable leaders to replace me then I should be ready to move on too. Only then will the country progress. … I have maintained transparency in both my words and actions. I clearly tell the public what are the challenges and what do we need to do to overcome them. I will continue to do that. The moment when I feel I can’t keep to that anymore, I will leave my ministerial posts.”

Viewing the whole video will show that when the Minister spoke about his own views, he had also intended his comments to be of general application, for persons holding Ministerial appointments (when seen in the context of past comments of the PAP leadership, and history of the PAP).

As required by the Correction Directions under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), TISG and Mr Toh must publish a correction notice alongside the posts. 

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