Correction orders were issued yesterday (26 February) under the direction of National Development Minister Lawrence Wong to local activist Gilbert Goh and socio-political site The Independent Singapore (TISG) over posts made about a single mother.
The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) correction directions were made on Facebook posts by Mr Goh and an article by TISG which detailed the story of a single mother of six children allegedly evicted from her home due to defaulting on rent payments.
Under the correction directions, Mr Goh and TISG are required to carry a correction notice on the relevant posts. As of today, TISG’s article in question carries the correction notice.
Mr Goh, however, has not included a correction notice on the original post. Instead, he has published a new post stating that he has filed a police report against the woman over her false story. He added that he will comply with the order within the given deadline.
In a Facebook post yesterday following the correction order, Mr Goh apologised for how the story has impacted TISG, explaining that this wasn’t the first time he has helped this particular family and admitted that familiarity with her situation “blunted” him to verify her story further.
Mr Goh said that the person has returned some of the cash donations she received. The cash donations will be returned to the donors who have reached out to help.
Mr Goh also apologised to the Ministry of National Development (MND) and donors for not verifying the post before posting it online. He offered to do what he can to “further soothe the misunderstanding”.
In the original Facebook post on 19 February, Mr Goh shared what appeared to be a letter from the woman named Lina pleading for help. In the post, it was stated that Lina and her six children had been evicted from her rental flat for defaulting on their rent and have been staying at her sister’s home. It was also noted specifically that she needed help with food rations and that her 2-month old baby was low on milk.
Government refutes the story
According to the statement on the Government’s Factually website, the claims made on those posts are “entirely false”.
Factually noted that the Housing Development Board (HDB) did not evict Lina from her rental flat. Instead, she was living with her husband and children in a HDB rental flat and they did not have any overdue rent.
It was noted that Lina’s husband terminated the tenancy for the flat and returned the keys to HDB in early February. Factually shared that Lina and her husband have purchased a new flat from HDB which has been paid for in full, and they have since moved into the new place.
The statement also noted that Lina and her family have been receiving assistance from various government agencies and community partners in the form of cash, vouchers, subsidies, and food rations.
It was also noted that when HDB officers visited the couple in their new flat on 22 February, they explained that it was a relative who had reached out to Goh for assistance.
“The false statements reported by Goh and TISG give the impression that HDB has deprived a needy family of public rental housing because of their inability to pay for it. This is not the case and it is important to set the facts straight,” according to Factually.