SDP issues rebuttal to MOM over POFMA correction orders

The Singapore Democractic Party (SDP) has issued a statement in response to the three correction order under Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation (POFMA) Act by Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Sunday, citing various public reports from mainstream media as the basis for their statements which the ministry found fault with.

Yesterday, MOM issued three correction order to SDP for three online posting, alleging that the statements made were false.

The three posts are:

  1. A sponsored Facebook post on 2 Dec 2019,
  2. a post on the SDP Facebook page on 30 Nov 2019,
  3. and an article on the SDP website on 8 Jun 2019.

According to MOM, the Singapore economy is continuing to create jobs despite the economic headwinds. It emphasised that local PMET employment has increased consistently and there is no rising trend of retrenchment, whether amongst PMETs or otherwise.

It went on to state that the alleged false and misleading statements by the SDP have a singular objective, which is to stoke fear and anxiety among local PMETs.

It is important to set the facts straight so that Singaporeans are not misled, said MOM.

Straits Times and other major news outlets, the source of SDP’s information

MOM took issue with a statement in an article, “SDP Population Policy: Hire S’poreans First, Retrench S’poreans last”, published on SDP’s website on 8 June 2019. The statement wrote, “The SDP’s proposal comes amidst a rising proportion of Singaporean PMETs getting retrenched”. MOM claims that this statement is wrong as there is no rising trend of local PMET retrenchments.

It noted that the number of local PMETs retrenched in 2018 was, in fact, the lowest since 2014. Local PMETs retrenched as a proportion of all local PMET employees, has also declined since 2015, said MOM.

In response, SDP noted that this particular statement was based a Straits Times (ST) report “PMETs make up rising share of retrenched locals” (15 March 2019).

The report wrote:

“Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) made up about three in four or 76 per centof the locals – Singaporeans and permanent residents – who were retrenched last year, the highest figure in at least a decade. It rose from 72 per cent in 2017 and is significantly higher than the share of PMETs in the resident workforce, which is about 57 per cent.”

The report also includes a figure labelled: “PMETs make up growing share of locals laid off” with MOM stated as its source.

SDP noted that as ST is a government-controlled newspaper,  it had no reason to believe that it would publish fake news about the government and aruged that MOM should take the matter up with the ST.

“If the ST states that its information, or the interpretation of it, is incorrect, we would be happy to amend our statement correspondingly.” wrote SDP.

It also pointed to another report by Yahoo! News dated 3 October 2019 where DBS senior economist Irvin Seah was quoted, saying: “PMETs continue to form a much larger share of retrenched workers compared to their proportion in the workforce.”

Commenting on the infograph posted on 30 November 2019, SDP said it had made the statement: “Local PMET unemployment has increased”.

Referring to a report by the Business Insider (13 June 2019), “More workers were retrenched in Q1 – here’s why most of them were PMETs”, SDP quoted the report stating: “Retrenchment in Q1 2019 is up from the previous quarter, and most of those who were retrenched were professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), a report by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has revealed.”

The party noted that other newspapers such as ST and TODAY also published similar reports.

In the second quarter of 2019, the above-cited Yahoo! report headlined “PMET unemployment in Singapore continues to climb” stated that the “number of PMETs who lost their jobs increased from 1,440 to 1,680, making them the bulk of those retrenched.”

SDP pointed that the report also cited Mr Irvin Seah’s comment that the rate of PMETs re-entering the workforce after six months of retrenchment was “persistently much lower” and said that its statement was based on publicly available information cited in the reports mentioned.

As for its infograph posted on 2 December 2019 where it made the statement: “Local PMET employment has decreased”. SDP explains that this is similar to the infograph posted on 30 November. |

In addition, the low re-entry numbers suggest that the absolute numbers of unemployed and under-employed PMETs would have increased, said SDP.

It concluded by stating 2019 is not yet over but MOM claims that local PMET employment has risen for the year.

“This raises questions about your conclusion.” said SDP.

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