“Priority queue for PRs” at Bukit Batok meet-the-people sessions is fake news: Murali Pillai

Facts can be twisted when taken out of context.

By Tanya Ong | March 4, 2018

Recently, some photos of a notice regarding Permanent Residents (PRs) intending to attend meet-the-people sessions at Bukit Batok SMC have been circulating in an online forum.

This is one of them:

Photo via

Here’s the notice said:

“Dear Residents

Singapore Permanent Residents

We would be grateful if Singapore Permanent Residents residing in Bukit Batok SMC who intend to attend MPS, please proceed to identify themselves directly at the registration counter without the need to queue.

Yours Sincerely


You can already see how this could look bad, right?

Priority queue for PRs?

According to the notice, PRs were asked to identify themselves at the registration counter “without the need to queue.”

Taken out of context, this photo led people seeing it online to assume there was a priority queue or some kind of special treatment for PRs.

Additionally, the photo was posted in a thread called “Beware of Indian MP: Priority queue for Indian SPR”, further insinuating that the Member of Parliament (MP)’s race had a part to play in this. 

Not a priority queue

It turns out that this was, well, completely off.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Mar. 3, Bukit Batok SMC MP Murali Pillai clarified the misunderstanding, explaining the reason for having PRs identify themselves upfront:

The notice was put up in the queue area outside the Bukit Batok branch to allow Singapore PRs to be told upfront by the registration counter volunteers that for petitions to be written on their behalf, they would need to provide more details such as their Singaporean sponsors. Otherwise, they may have waited in vain.”

Notice could be better worded?

While the general consensus is that spreading of misinformation can be extremely harmful, some netizens pointed out that the notice was misleading.

“The notice itself was not properly written. Though fake news are not tolerated, please also look at improving the written communication.”

“Yes. The notice seem misleading. Please can just spend a moment to rephrase it..after serving the resident. eg, ‘you may want to identify yourself…prior to queuing.”

One even suggested re-writing the notice:

“Here, let me help you:

‘Dear Permanent Residents,

Be advised that we require the details of your sponsors before we are able to assist you in any way with regards to your queries. Please ensure you have this information on hand before you join the queue so that you would not have queued in vain. Thank you.’

You’re welcome.”

However, in a Channel NewsAsia report, Murali noted that “no one attending the MPS misunderstood the notice.”

They will “continue to use the notice as and when necessary.”

The danger of fake news

The main issue here though, is that spreading misleading information like this can potentially result in racial tensions and social fragmentation.

In his Facebook post, Murali also expressed disappointment at how the person twisted facts and tried to “inflame race relations”.

“It is sad that someone has twisted the facts for his own reasons and, at the same time, tried to inflame race relations as well.

The notice was left behind after the MPS leading to the person taking a photo of it and making the false and misleading claim. We believe though that the person who made the post fully knows this fact. Nonetheless we will not be deterred and concentrate on serving our residents.”

When asked if he any follow-up actions will be taken on the person who posted the claims on the forum, Murali has said that he will “carefully consider (his) next steps”.

This is his Facebook post:


Top photo from forum and Murali Pillai Facebook.

About Tanya Ong

Tanya knows pi to the 35th decimal place for absolutely no reason at all.

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