Teo Soh Lung: Who will be the next victim of POFMA?

by Teo Soh Lung

This notorious law, POFMA or Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, passed with much wayang in May 2019, has claimed its third victim, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) yesterday.

I hope the party will give the Minister of Manpower, Josephine Teo a good fight.

In a matter of three weeks, our million dollar ministers – Heng Swee Keat, K Shanmugam and Josephine Teo have issued a multitude of POFMA correction directions against three parties. These ministers are obviously so bored that they have taken to reading and scrutinising blogs and Facebook posts!

Who will be the next victim? And which minister will issue the 4th notice? How many more ministers will issue more notices?

It seems that the ministers are now busy searching for victims! Maybe it is for the purpose of muffling voices before the next general election which is rumoured to be March 2020. Pending criminal defamation cases and civil claims have not drowned all voices.

Who can escape the net and who cannot? This is not for us to decide! Only ministers have the power under POFMA.

Don’t ever think that those who are prosecuted or persecuted today have been careless, lazy or ill informed. Don’t think that only good writers like Bowyer and the SDP qualify as victims. Victims can be any one!

Does this mean that we should all feel terrified, disheartened and stop writing and commenting on daily incidents and injustices? That would mean POFMA and all those insane laws have succeeded in turning us into docile and compliant citizens who have no rights and no freedom of speech and expression. That would also mean that we have abdicated our duty as citizens in a democratic country.

Shall we wait for celestial intervention? This of course will be the easiest way and it would please the People’s Action Party (PAP) government. Or worse, loudly pray for them to change their ways! Just remember celestial beings if they exist, don’t care about what happens on earth. We can destroy our world and disappear the human race if we choose to.

We have a choice. Do nothing or continue to write and expose injustices, miniscule as it may be when compared to war torn countries and even our neighbours. Many of us like to make such comparisons when they urge critics to be silent and be grateful to the government.

If we don’t want Singapore to join these broken countries, I think we have to continue to speak up. Our audience may be small compared to the PAP. But never forget that tiny drops of water make the mighty ocean. And the roots of a tree can crack the pavement.

This was first published on Function 8’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission

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