Minister Lawrence Wong has rejected The Online Citizen Asia’s (TOCA) application to cancel the correction direction issued on 4 July, the Ministry of National Development informed the publication via email on Wednesday (22 July).
In a statement on 4 July, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office stated that Ow Foong Pheng – the Permanent Secretary for the MND and the Minister’s alternate authority – has instructed to issue correction direction to TOCA – article on website and Facebook page – and to the Facebook pages of Peoples Voice Political Party (PV), Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), and Sin Rak Party.
The correction orders were issued due to “false statements of fact claiming that a statement made by Dr Cheong Koon Hean at the IPS-Nathan Lectures in 2018 suggested that Singapore population would increase to 10 million by 2030”.
“Dr Cheong made no statement suggesting that our population would increase to 10 million by 2030,” it stated.
The POFMA Office said that the Government has clarified Singapore’s population plans on multiple occasions, including in Parliament in March 2018, when it stated that the nation’s total population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030.
TOCA had filed its application to cancel the correction direction on 17 July to the Minister, with regards to the article in question, “10 mil population debacle: SDP questions why former DPM Heng did not refute ST report at the time it was published”.
In its application to the Minister, the publication claimed that the MND did not deny that Dr Cheong had said that “Singapore’s population density will increase from 11,000 people per sq km to 13,700 people per sq km between now and 2030”.
TOCA referred to a citizen’s letter to The Straits Times, who sought clarification from the authorities about Dr Cheong’s figure on population density. The HDB replied by saying that the figures cited were on “living density and not population density”, but it made no clarification on whether Dr Cheong had stated the figure.
As for the second false statement which states, “‘Given our land area, this means that our population would go up to nearly 10 million by 2030,’ SDP asserted”, TOCA said that it was merely reporting on the SDP’s opinion that the Party stated in a press release on 3 July.