The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) was granted leave on Wednesday (26 Feb) to appeal a ruling in its case against correction orders issued under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) and will argue before the Court of Appeal at a later date.
Last year on 14 December, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) issued three correction directions under POFMA against SDP over two Facebook posts and an article related to employment trends in Singapore posted by the opposition party.
SDP then complied with the request under POFMA to carry a correction notice that includes a link to the government’s Factually site on each of the Facebook posts and the article.
On 3 January, SDP submitted its application to cancel the three correction directions, but MOM minister Josephine Teo refused and claimed that the application does not provide sufficient grounds for cancellation.
In response to MOM’s rejection, SDP indicated that the answer given “is not a rational answer” and added, “SDP had submitted a detailed account – including analyzing MOM’s own statistics – of the reasons for the statements in our posts.” SDP then pursued the matter in Court and filed an originating summons against the MOM in the High Court. The hearing commenced on 16 January.
However, on 5 February, the High Court dismissed SDP’s challenge and ruled that the government has to prove a statement is false after it has been issued a correction under POFMA.
Justice Ang Cheng Hock ruled that the statements made by SDP were “false in the face of statistical evidence against them”, thus SDP cannot remove the correction notices it was required to add to the online posts.
SDP expressed its disappointment with the verdict in a statement and said, “We reiterate our case which we argued in Court: POFMA must only be applied to clear cut cases of falsehoods, not for interpretations of statistical data.”
Following that, the party decided to apply for leave to appeal against the High Court decision which was then granted yesterday (26 Feb).
The Online Citizen’s (TOC) POFMA appeal
On the other hand, TOC has also applied for its appeal under POFMA to be heard by the court of appeal and will be having the matter heard on 12 March 2020 at the High Court.
Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) has said that it has no objection to the leave.
Earlier on 19 February, the High Court dismissed TOC’s appeal against the Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam’s Correction Direction issued under the POFMA which was made pertaining to an article published on TOC regarding Malaysian-based human rights organisation Lawyers For Liberty’s (LFL) allegations on the judicial execution methods employed in Changi Prison.