In a recent development, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced that Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam has rejected the application made by Mr Terry Xu to cancel the correction direction issued to him on 7 May 2023, under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma).
The correction direction was imposed on Mr Xu and his website, The Online Citizen Asia (TOC), for posting false allegations against the police regarding an incident in Yishun Avenue 5 in May 2021.
The incident involved police officers responding to a report about an elderly woman who appeared lost and was not wearing a mask.
According to MHA, Mr Xu had posted misleading information on 30 April 2023, which prompted the correction direction. On 7 May, TOC and Mr Xu were ordered to post corrections to their online article and social media posts about the incident.
The MHA stated in a press release that the conditions for issuing the correction direction were satisfied, and Mr Xu’s application did not provide any grounds to challenge the direction. After careful consideration, the Minister for Home Affairs decided to reject the application, and Mr Xu has been notified of the rejection.
The correction direction requires Mr Xu to insert a correction notice at the top of his Facebook post, acknowledging that the post contains false statements and providing a link to the Government’s Factually website for the correct facts. Additionally, he is directed to post the correction notice as a new post on his Facebook page.
In regards to the application to the Minister, Mr Xu had submitted grounds for an appeal against the correction direction, specifically addressing statements of facts and opinion included in the Minister’s basis for the direction.
Regarding the statement of facts, Mr Xu highlighted discrepancies between the police’s account and the body camera footage.
According to his submission, one of the officers was already engaging with the woman at the time the police claimed to have received the call, raising questions about the authenticity of the reported concern.
“it was observed that at the time the police claim to have received the call, one of the officers was already engaging with the woman. The same officer did not report finding a lost elderly woman to the call centre but focused instead on the fact that she wasn’t wearing a mask,” wrote Mr Xu to the Minister.
Furthermore, Mr Xu pointed out instances where officers acknowledged that the woman was not lost but “doing her own stuff,” contradicting the claim made by the Minister’s correction direction.
In regards to the basis for the elderly woman’s daughter-in-law lodging a police report, Mr Xu argued that the report was filed based on misinformation provided by a police officer who alerted the daughter-in-law about a video of her mother-in-law.
The officer’s representation led the daughter-in-law to believe that her mother-in-law was lost due to dementia, unaware that the police had already engaged with her in her usual location.
Regarding the statement of opinion, Mr Xu defended his assertion that the police officer misrepresented the facts to the daughter-in-law.
He argued that the officer’s communication led the daughter-in-law to file the report without verifying the facts herself, as the elderly woman repeatedly expressed her knowledge of her home and her intention to return there.
“She (daughter-in-law) had filed the report under the belief that her mother-in-law was lost due to dementia, unaware that the police had engaged with her mother-in-law in her usual location. The details of the conversation between the officer who informed the daughter-in-law and the daughter-in-law herself were omitted from the submission for HC/OS 563/2021. Hence, it is clear that the decision to file a police report was influenced by the interaction with the police officer, rather than the reasons stated in the Minister’s correction direction.”
Mr Xu’s application presented these arguments, questioning the accuracy and completeness of the Minister’s correction direction.
Mr Xu has 14 days to file an application to the High Court to appeal against the correction direction.