Singapore uses fake news law on top Opposition politician and TikTok

Singapore Democratic Party secretary-general Chee Soon Juan had claimed that the Government has rejected the idea of building flats that can accommodate multi-generational living. - PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (Bloomberg): Singapore’s government has deployed a fake news law against a prominent opposition politician for his comments about public housing policies, the latest use of the contentious legislation that has been used recently against similar figures.

Chee Soon Juan, the Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party, will be required to correct a video he posted on social media, which the Ministry of National Development said "contains false and misleading statements,” regarding public housing, according to a statement on Thursday.

TikTok Pte. will also have to communicate a correction notice to all end-users in Singapore that had accessed a post on the platform by Chee on the topic, the statement said.

The law has been wielded by authorities in the city-state against other figures since it was passed in 2019, including in recent weeks against opposition lawmaker and chief of the Progress Singapore Party Leong Mun Wai and secretary-general of the opposition Reform Party Kenneth Jeyaretnam.

Meanwhile, in a report from The Straits Times, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee has instructed the fake news office here to issue a correction direction to Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan over his social media statements on public housing policies.

In a video that was put up on his Facebook, Instagram and TikTok accounts on Feb 17, Dr Chee claimed that the Government has rejected the idea of building flats that can accommodate multi-generational living.

“This claim is false,” said government fact-checking website Factually, noting that HDB builds and offers five-room and 3Gen flats to cater to the housing needs of larger families and multi-generation families who wish to live together.

In particular, 3Gen flats have been introduced since 2013 to allow multi-generation families to live together. Such flats are generally larger at about 115 sq m, with an extra bedroom compared with the typical five-room BTO flat.

The statement said that five-room flats were offered in all Build-To-Order (BTO) launches in 2023, and 3Gen flats were offered in two of the four launches.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) said in a statement on Feb 22 that Dr Chee will be required to carry correction notices on his Instagram and Facebook accounts, and to create a new TikTok post containing a correction notice.

Under the correction direction by the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office, the notices will have to state that the video posted on Feb 17 contains a false statement of fact, and provide a link to the Government’s clarification to allow viewers to consider both versions and draw their own conclusions.

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