Minister Josephine Teo refused application by SDP to cancel POFMA correction directions

The Minister of Manpower, Josephine Teo has refused the application of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)’s application to cancel the correction directions issued on 14 Dec last year on three online postings as she views that the application does not provide sufficient grounds for the cancellation.

SDP had earlier submitted its application on 3 Jan to cancel the three correction directions issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) under Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).

Ms Teo in the MOM statement on 6 Jan, did not elaborate on how SDP’s application did not provide sufficient grounds.

Last month, MOM issued three Correction Directions (CDs) to SDP for three online postings, alleging that the statements made regarding employment in Singapore were false.

MOM has asked the opposition party to carry a correction notice stating that two of its Facebook posts and an article on its website contain a misleading graphic and false statement of facts.

The ministry claims that the graphical illustration depicting that plunging local PMET employment featured in SDP’s sponsored Facebook post on 2 Dec, is wrong.

The ministry also claims that the graphical illustration depicting that plunging local PMET employment in the post is wrong. MOM pointed to its Comprehensive Labour Force Survey which showed a steady rise of local PMETs employment since 2015.

In the press release, MOM said the article contains a statement, “The SDP’s proposal comes amidst a rising proportion of Singaporean PMETs getting retrenched” which it claims to be also wrong as there is no rising trend of local PMET retrenchments.

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.

Following the CDs by MOM, SDP complied with the request and added a correction note to both of the Facebook posts as well as the article.

However, on 2 January (Thursday), SDP refuted MOM’s claims and penned a detailed statement on its website about the issues it has with the directives.

In its statement, SDP said that the party’s statements in the three posts which MOM issued the correction directions, were indeed true and correct.

In fact, the party cited statistics published by MOM itself to prove what Ms Teo deemed wrong in the correction directions were actually true.

“The problem lies with the fact that MOM had accused the SDP of making statements that we did not make or cited different sets of data which is then used to accuse the SDP’s post as false. This is an abuse of POFMA,” SDP said.

It added, “Clearly, the MOM has used the law for political-partisan purposes to stymie legitimate criticism of the PAP’s foreign PMET policy that has been and continues to be unfair to Singaporeans.”

“That the general election is not far away makes our case even more salient.”

As such, the party called for Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo to retract the directives and issue an “immediate, unambiguous and public apology over the matter”.

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