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Singapore Herald banned by IMDA for refusing to remove objectionable articles

The Infocomm and Media Development Authority (IMDA) has blocked independent news site, Singapore Herald, for failing to comply with their order to remove several ‘objectionable’ articles.

According to an article on Singapore Herald, the IMDA had issued the ban on the site for failing to remove 8 articles that ‘contain serious and egregious misrepresentations of Singapore’s position in the ongoing situation with the Malaysian government over Singapore’s territorial waters’. In their letter, the IMDA said that Singapore Herald ‘blatantly distorted the truth, painting Singapore as belligerent aggressors, which is entirely false and baseless’. Some of these articles, in their titles, claimed that Minister Khaw Boon Wan and Minister Chan Chung ‘threaten’ military action against Malaysia over the Johor Straits dispute’.

The IMDA found these articles to be ‘objectionable on grounds of public interest’ and are considered prohibited materials under the Internet Code of Practice. The IMDA said that these ‘false statements undermine Singapore’s efforts to keep tensions from rising in a situation of heightened sensitivities between Singapore and Malaysia’.

Singapore Herald was asked to remove those 8 articles by 4PM on 14th December, Saturday from their website and all other platforms including social media. They were also asked to cease publishing any more content of a similar nature.

In response, the Singapore Herald refused to take down the articles, saying that ‘a court order is required for content take-down and that any arbitrary order by the dictatorship will not be complied with’.

Since they refused to comply, the IMDA directed Internet Serice Providers (ISPs) to block access to the Singapore Herald website.

Following that, Singapore Herald announced that they have shifted their site to Patreon following the ban, claiming that the IMDA’s censorship of the website has seriously affected its advertising revenue as their target audience are Singaporeans.

Curiously, the Singapore Herald article about the IMDA ban and the shift to Patreon were both shared on the States Times Review (STR) Facebook page. You will remember that STR editor Alex Tan had decided shut down the site after a similar incident where the IMDA blocked STR as well for publishing misinformation. Soon after, Alex Tan announced that he was helping an anonymous reader to set up a new site called the Singapore Herald – Mr Tan has insisted that he was only involved in the back end of setting up the website and server while this new anonymous editor would be in charge of content. He also said he was not accepting any money from this new site.

That begs the question of why the STR Facebook page is sharing the articles from the Singapore Herald accompanied by a sentence that says, ‘Following the Singapore government’s censorship, the website’s advertisement revenue has been seriously affected as our target audience are Singaporeans.’ ‘OUR’ was the word used.

The post also proceeded to say that the news content would be published on ‘our’ Patreon page moving forward.

So is Alex Tan now admitting that he runs the Singapore Herald?