Saturday, 30 September 2023

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Lee Hsien Yang issued a POFMA Correction Direction over alleged misleading claims in Facebook post

A Correction Direction was issued to Mr Lee Hsien Yang (LHY) under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) on Tuesday (25 Jul).

This decision by the Ministry of Law was prompted by alleged false statements made by LHY in a Facebook post on Sunday (23 Jul).

The alleged inaccuracies included: the State funded renovations to 26 and 31 Ridout Road due to the properties being leased by Ministers K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan; trees at the same properties were felled because of the ministers; and the SPH Media Trust fraudulently inflated its circulation figures.

The Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Edwin Tong, has overseen the issuance of the correction. Under the direction, LHY is obliged to carry a notice correcting the allegedly misleading assertions.

According to the POFMA direction, the renovations at 26 and 31 Ridout Road were essential and unrelated to the tenant ministers. The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) often invests heavily in the preservation of conserved properties, including these. Most of the renovation costs, deemed necessary by external consultants due to the properties’ condition and conservation requirements, were not tied to the tenant ministers.

Furthermore, the felling of trees at both properties, as asserted by Mr Lee, was unrelated to the tenant ministers. Decisions to fell trees were made by independent arborists after thorough inspections and the identification of safety issues. All required approvals for felling trees were obtained from the National Parks Board (NParks).

Finally, LHY’s assertion about the fraudulent inflation of circulation numbers by SPH Media Trust was refuted. The overstatement occurred when the media business was under SPH Limited, a listed company, before the formation of SPH Media Trust. Upon inheriting the media business, the Trust discovered, reported, and investigated this issue. The Government’s funding agreement with SPH Media Trust was based on its transformation needs, not circulation numbers.

In his Facebook post, LHY – son of the late Lee Kuan Yew – accused the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) of eroding public trust through various acts of misconduct and corruption.

He stated that the trust placed in the PAP had been “shattered.” He criticized his elder brother, PM Lee Hsien Loong, for failing in his leadership role and squandering the trust inherited from their father, stating that “trust has to be earned, it cannot simply be inherited.”

LHY brought up several controversies and scandals, some of which were addressed in the POFMA direction.

Beyond the rental of the Ridout Road properties by the two ministers, he also mentioned the arrest of a cabinet minister on corruption charges, the fraudulent inflation of circulation numbers by SPH Media Trust, to which the PAP government had promised S$900 million in funding, and the resignation of the Speaker of Parliament due to an extramarital affair.

LHY highlighted how these scandals reaffirmed his and his elder sister Dr Lee Wei Ling’s past assertion that they did not trust PM Lee Hsien Loong as a brother or a leader. This assertion was issued in a statement by the two siblings in June 2017.

He concluded his post with a damning statement: “These latest facts speak volumes. Hsien Loong’s regime does not deserve Singaporeans’ trust.”

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