Minister Josephine Teo has rejected The Online Citizen Asia’s (TOCA) application to cancel the correction direction issued on 5 July, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) informed the publication via email on Wednesday (22 July).
In a statement on 5 July, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office stated that Aubeck Kam – the Permanent Secretary for the MOM and the Minister’s alternate authority – has instructed the Office to issue correction directions to NUSS video, TOCA’s Facebook post and video, CNA’s online article, and New Naratif’s audio recording.
The POFMA Office noted that the issuance of correction direction was due to the false statements made by Dr Paul Ananth Tambyah who stated the following:
- Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) email advisory to employers on testing of migrant workers was made without the advice from public health medical professionals
- MOM‘s advisory stated that employers would lose their work pass privileges if they brought their workers for COVID-19 testing
- MOM actively discouraged the testing of workers
The correction directions were issued to two of TOCA videos – “TOCA GE2020 Livestream – Afternoon session 2 July 2020” and “Dr Paul Tambyah reveals MOM’s role in outbreak of COVID-19 within dormitories” – that were published on 4 July.
It noted that Dr Tambyah has implied in the videos that the MOM did not consult the Ministry of Health or public health professionals before informing employers that they would be penalised for testing their workers.
The justification given by Aubeck Kam was that the Minister had clarified in a Facebook post that the MOM advisory was sent out at the request of the MOH.
Meanwhile, TOCA had filed its application to cancel the correction direction on 17 July to the Minister of Manpower, stating that Dr Tambyah’s statements in the video were based on the fact that the MOM did warn the employers via email not to send their migrant workers for COVID-19 testing.
As for Dr Tambyah’s remarks that said, “There’s a result of which the Ministry of Health is blindsided”, TOCA explained that the context of his comments was that the MOH became unaware of the number of migrant workers who are infected with the virus due to the workers not being sent for testing.