FB re­jects S’pore govt’s re­quest to re­move 1MDB ar­ti­cle

New Straits Times - - NEWS / NATION -

SIN­GA­PORE: Face­book has re­jected a govern­ment re­quest to re­move a post of an on­line ar­ti­cle that the govern­ment said was “false and ma­li­cious”, prompt­ing its Law Min­istry to say the case il­lus­trated the need to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion to stop fake news.

Sin­ga­pore’s cen­tral bank said on Fri­day it had filed a po­lice re­port against an on­line ar­ti­cle by an Aus­tralia-based blog­ger about Sin­ga­pore banks and Malaysia’s 1Malaysia De­vel­op­ment Bhd state fund.

Web ac­cess to the States Times Re­view (STR) has been blocked by In­ter­net ser­vice providers as di­rected by Sin­ga­pore’s In­fo­commm Me­dia De­vel­op­ment Author­ity (IMDA).

“IMDA has as­sessed that the ar­ti­cle un­der­mined pub­lic con­fi­dence in the in­tegrity of the Sin­ga­pore govern­ment and is ob­jec­tion­able on grounds of pub­lic in­ter­est,” IMDA said.

STR ar­ti­cles on its Face­book page re­mained avail­able.

IMDA asked Face­book to take down a post of the ar­ti­cle, but “Face­book has in­di­cated that they will not ac­cede to IMDA’s re­quest”, it said in a sep­a­rate state­ment yes­ter­day.

The Law Min­istry said “Face­book has de­clined to take down a post that is clearly false, defam­a­tory and at­tacks Sin­ga­pore, us­ing false­hoods”, which il­lus­trated the need to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion fight­ing fake news.

“FB (Face­book) can­not be re­lied upon to fil­ter false­hoods or pro­tect Sin­ga­pore from a false in­for­ma­tion cam­paign,” it said.

The States Times Re­view was founded and is run by Sin­ga­porean ac­tivist Alex Tan, who is based in Aus­tralia.

It car­ries ar­ti­cles that are crit­i­cal of Sin­ga­pore’s lead­ers and its rul­ing Peo­ple’s Ac­tion Party.

Tan said in a post on his Face­book page on Fri­day that he had de­cided to sus­pend ac­tiv­i­ties on the web­site be­cause “it lost a chan­nel to reach Sin­ga­pore­ans”.

He said he would stop writ­ing and his Face­book page would shut down in two weeks, but the move was not be­cause of pressure from the Sin­ga­pore govern­ment.

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