SDP: Manpower Minister’s failure to provide explanation for rejecting correction directions is a “cop-out”; Party to pursue matter in court

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has pointed out that the Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo’s decision to reject the party’s correction directions under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) without providing any grounds is a “cop-out”.

The SDP’s statement on Monday (6 Jan) is in response to an earlier statement released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) which said that Ms Teo has refused SDP’s application to cancel the correction directions issued on 14 Dec last year on three online postings. She said that the application does not provide sufficient grounds for the cancellation.

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

Based on the MOM’s lack of explanation, SDP said on its website on Monday that it is “not a rational answer” as the party had submitted a “detailed account – including analysing MOM’s own statistics – of the reasons for the statements in our posts”.

The party also included the full document which they sent to MOM on their website. SDP had earlier submitted its application on 3 Jan to cancel the three correction directions issued by MOM under POFMA.

Besides this, in the party’s statement on Monday, SDP also hit back at Ms Teo for not being able to give an explanation for rejecting SDP’s application despite having the time to do so.

“Minister Josephine Teo, despite having the entire Ministry and its officials at her disposal with two full working days and an entire weekend to refute our specific arguments, has refused or been unable to do so. This is telling,” it wrote.

It added, “Replying that the ‘Minister has therefore decided to refuse your Application’ is not an answer, it is a cop-out.”

SDP also highlighted that the People’s Action Party (PAP) threw “accusations against its opponents but refuses to substantiate its arguments when rebutted with official data”.

“This is hardly the kind of leadership Singaporeans should expect or deserve. It is an unfortunate but very real comment about the calibre of the PAP’s 4G leaders,” it explained.

It continued, “Using the law to allege the SDP as posting ‘false statements of fact’ and then refusing to back-up its allegation with data when challenged is clear demonstration of how far Singapore’s political standards have deteriorated.”

Due to MOM’s non-answer, SDP said that it has taken the step to pursue the matter in court.

Background

Last month, MOM issued three correction directions 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.

Following that, 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.

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