Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods extends submission date to 7 March

The Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods- Causes, Consequences and Countermeasures has extended the deadline for the general public to submit written representations by one week to 7 March 2018 at 4.30 pm and the public hearing will be held on 14 March.

Previously, submissions were to be made by 28 February.

The committee stated that as at 4.30 pm on 27 February 2018, a total of 62 written representations were received.

An MP for Jurong GRC, Committee member Rahayu Mahzam, told the Straits Times on last week that she needs to double her efforts to get more views, saying,”I have been telling my friends (that) it doesn’t have to be a well-researched paper. An experiential account can be useful for us to identify a range of views too.”

MP for Marine Parade GRC, fellow committee member Seah Kian Peng, said, “Falsehoods affect all of us. The more submissions and feedback we get, the better we can come up with recommendations.”

There are seven members of the Committee, which was made up of seven MPs from the ruling People’s Action Party, one from the Workers’ Party (WP), one Nominated MP and Deputy Speaker Charles Chong as the chairman.

Mr Chong said, “I am very encouraged by the strong response to the Select Committee’s call for public participation so far. We have received many thoughtful representations. In response to requests, we have extended the deadline by one week. I hope the one-week extension will allow even more to contribute their perspectives before we start our public hearings from 14 March 2018.”

The hearing will be held in the new public hearing room in Parliament House.

In an earlier interview with ST, Mr Chong said that it is “a tempting proposition” for politicians to define all news detrimental to them as fake, but such a move will not fly in Singapore.

Noting on how other countries grapple with the problem of fake news, Mr Chong said, “It is a definition that is great for politicians in power. But I don’t think we can get away with that here.”

However, he noted that the challenge of defining fake news remains, as Singapore looks at tackling the growing problem, including by possibly enacting legislation.

Mr Chong stressed that one concern is that steps taken may end up restricting diversity of views as well as penalising inaccurate speech made unintentionally. Therefore, to address this, Mr Chong sees the need for a “reasonable person test” so that one can make a judgment call on whether a falsehood is deliberate or not, adding that there is no better way to find out this “reasonable man standard” than by consulting the public.

Mr Chong said that ultimately, fake news affects everyone.

A decision will be reached through a majority vote by the committee.

Editor’s note – Feel free to use this form to send your submission to the Select Committee.