Update at 1900Hrs: A spokesperson from MHA responded to Mothership's query on TOC's editorial with the following statement: "The Police had issued a statement on 1 February 2016 that there would be a Coroner’s Inquiry (CI) into the death of Benjamin. The Minister for Home Affairs Mr K Shanmugam has given a full response in Parliament, on the falsehoods put out in this matter, and has also explained why questions addressed to the Ministry or the Police cannot be answered, prior to the CI. There are proper processes in place to establish the facts."
Update at 1700Hrs: TOC editor Terry Xu clarified that the Singapore Police Force Feedback Unit contacted him once to inform him that they have taken note of his feedback.
Sociopolitical site The Online Citizen on Wednesday responded to Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam's parliament statement involving the tragic suicide of the late 14-year-old Benjamin Lim, and rejected the Minister's suggestion that they attempted to mislead the public deliberately.
In Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, Minister Shanmugam stated the facts of what happened in the North View Secondary School student's case (read those in our stories here, here and here), with a part of his speech chastising TOC for spreading falsehoods, and in his words, organising a "planned, orchestrated campaign" on the case.
Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Shanmugam added that the "overall narrative and impression conveyed by the TOC articles" are that the i) police were lying; ii) police intimidated Lim; and iii) police pressured Lim to confess to a crime that he did not commit.
One example he cited was a Feb 5 TOC article that highlighted that the police wore T-shirts with the word "police" on their backs, when it was not the case (the police went to school in plain clothes).
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TOC: “inaccuracies” are not the same as “falsehoods”
In TOC's response to Shanmugam, it clarified that some of their reports "were not fully accurate", "given the dearth of information available" to them.
The dearth of information was also a point highlighted by East Coast GRC MP Jessica Tan in parliament.
Tan noted "the important part" online media played in communication and asked Shanmugam whether there is "a way to share at least some information with online news sites" in "situations where it's very emotive and very sensitive". Shanmugam replied that all forms of media must observe the legal principle of contempt.
TOC highlighted that they have "reached out to the police, Mr Shanmugum, and other officials for comment" but did not receive any reply.
The site's chief editor Terry Xu told Mothership.sg that he had contacted the authorities "four times on emails", adding that "there has been no attempt (by the authorities) to reach TOC for any clarification".
On Shanmugam's assertion that TOC was orchestrating a campaign, TOC explained that it is "an open platform" and exerts "very little control over what the public choose(s) to write about".
Singapore Democratic Party (SDP): Delay in the government’s response over the Benjamin Lim episode is unacceptable
Meanwhile, opposition party SDP also issued a statement on the case, questioning the five weeks the Minister took to address the issue.
SDP also said that it was due to "TOC's and the Law Society's statements" that intensified the pressure for the government to address the matter.
(The Home Affairs Minister did say, however, in his parliamentary statement, that he withheld his ministry's and the police's comments on the case out of respect for the family, and because the details should by right be aired at the Coroner's Inquiry.)
Posted by Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) on Tuesday, March 1, 2016