Kenneth Jeyaretnam calls for POFMA to be issued to Lee Hsien Loong over falsehoods

Kenneth Jeyaretnam calls for POFMA to be issued to Lee Hsien Loong over falsehoods

Kenneth Jeyaretnam from the Reform Party (RP) has called upon the Elections Department (ELD) to issue a “Stop Communication Direction” under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA). 

He sent a letter to the ELD on Tuesday (7 July). 

In his letter, he stated that during the televised national broadcast for Ang Mo Kio Constituency, “Caretaker Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, uttered falsehoods when he said ‘my new GRC team includes two sitting MPs, Gan Thiam Poh and Darryl David’.” 

Mr Jeyaretnam said that as former Prime Minister, Mr Lee cannot be unaware that parliament has been dissolved and that all former MPs are now candidates.

By “making a distinction between Mr David and Mr Gan and other candidates”, he asserted that it would “suggest to a reasonable person hearing or reading this falsehood” that Mr David and Mr Gan currently hold an office and are “somehow at a higher level with more vested authority than other candidates”. 

However, that is not true because the term “sitting MPs” means an individual has “office and authority”, which is not the case or the truth. 

“This sways the process of a free and fair election in which every candidate (is of equal standing). ‘Sitting MPs’ suggests that either they have already been re-elected, which would dissuade voters from voting (since voting in GE2020 is not compulsory), or that Lee Hsien Loong knows the outcome of the vote in advance and therefore would again act to dissuade voters from voting,” Mr Jeyaretnam added. 

Under the POFMA, it “prohibits the communication of false statements of fact and misleading information in Singapore which is likely to Influence the outcome of a presidential election, general election, by-election or referendum”. 

Therefore, he said, “It is of vital public interest to correct this falsehood and for a ‘Stop Communication Direction’ to be issued”.

Read his full letter below. 


Elections Department
The Prime Minister’s Office

Dear Sirs

On the 3rd July 2020 the Caretaker Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, uttered falsehoods in a televised national broadcast he made on behalf of the People’s Action Party of Singapore, Ang Mo Kio Constituency team.

At around 2:28 minutes he says ”My new GRC team includes two sitting MPs, Gan Thiam Poh and Darryl David and two new candidates… “

The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) prohibits the communication of false statements of fact in Singapore. 

These are online falsehoods that fall under the purview of POFMA in that it is both a false statement of fact and misleading information.

Mr Lee’s false statement given on a national platform at a time that he is serving as Caretaker leader of Singapore would be perceived by any reasonable person hearing or reading it to be a representation of fact.

Therefore this false statement unequivocally falls under section 3 of the POFMA. 

Furthermore under section 7 of the POFMA:

“a person must not commit any acts, whether in or outside of Singapore, to communicate a statement which that person knows or has reason to believe that it (sic) is a falsehood, and the communication of that falsehood in Singapore is likely to:

  • Diminish public confidence in the government.“

As former Prime Minister and experienced candidate acting caretaker Prime Minister Mr Lee, cannot be unaware that parliament has been dissolved and that all former MPs are now candidates. It diminishes public confidence in the government that the leader of that government, currently dissolved, is not able to get basic statements of facts correct and that his speech was not proofread for errors. We naturally hold the leader of our Nation to a higher standard. The falsehood is therefore clearly also a breach under section 7. 

“and the communication of that falsehood in Singapore is likely to:

Further, in the false statement he gives, Mr Lee makes a distinction between Darryl David and Gan Thiam Poh and the others in his GRC team who are referred to as “candidates “. This would suggest to a reasonable person hearing or reading this falsehood that Darryl David and Gan Thiam Poh currently hold an office and are somehow at a higher level with more vested authority than other candidates. This also suggests that they are on a different level to the other team’s candidates. T

The term “Sitting MPs”’is in direct contradiction to the truthful position of having no office and no authority.  This sways the process of a free and fair election in which every candidate equally is a person hoping to get a mandate from the voters and to be elected. “Sitting MPs” further suggests that either they have already been re-elected, which would dissuade voters from voting (in GE2020 voting is not compulsory) or that Lee Hsien Loong knows the outcome of the vote in advance and therefore would again act to dissuade voters from voting.

It is of vital public interest to correct this falsehood and for a “Stop Communication Direction“ to be issued.

Kenneth Jeyaretnam
Secretary General

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