IMDA issues notice to States Times Review to take down false 1MDB article, or else, ISP can block site

IMDA also asked Facebook to deny access to the States Times Review post.

Sulaiman Daud | November 09, 2018, 04:05 PM

The Infocomm and Media Development Authority (IMDA) is taking action against anti-establishment website States Times Review  (STR).

The IMDA statement on Nov. 9 said an article published by STR is false, against public interest and constitutes prohibited content.

IMDA said:

"The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has clarified that the article in the States Times Review is baseless and defamatory.

Accordingly, IMDA has assessed that the article undermined public confidence in the integrity of the Singapore Government and is objectionable on grounds of public interest, and would therefore constitute prohibited content under IMDA’s Internet Code of Practice."

The article, which was published on Nov. 5 by STR with no byline, was said to be "false" and "defamatory" by MAS in a public statement on Nov. 9.

According to MAS’s statement, the STR story alleged that Singapore had signed “unfair” agreements with Malaysia in exchange for getting the assistance of Singapore banks to launder money from 1MDB.

Takedown request

IMDA has made a couple of requests regarding the false article.

The first is to STR itself:

"IMDA has issued a Notice to States Times Review to take down the article by 5pm, Nov. 9, 2018, failing which IMDA will direct Internet Service Providers to restrict access to the site."

And the second is to Facebook:

"As the offending article has also been shared on Facebook, IMDA has also asked Facebook to deny access to the said post."

As of Nov. 9, 3pm, STR's Facebook post of the article is still up with 700 reactions, over 150 comments and over 1,600 shares.

Internet Code of Practice

The IMDA's Codes of Practice and Guidelines offer a framework for Internet content standards.

It says:

"The Internet Code of Practice which falls under the Broadcasting Act (Cap. 28), outlines the content standards for Internet content."

The Code states the following:

  • All Internet Service Providers and Internet Content Providers licensed under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification (N1) are required to comply with this Code of Practice.
  • Under the Broadcasting Act, (IMDA) has the power to impose sanctions, including fines, on licensees who contravene this Code of Practice.
  • A licensee shall use his best efforts to ensure that prohibited material is not broadcast via the Internet to users in Singapore.

And in Paragraph 4 (1), it states:

"Prohibited material is material that is objectionable on the grounds of public interest, public morality, public order, public security, national harmony, or is otherwise prohibited by applicable Singapore laws."

Shanmugam: Action will be taken based on AGC's advice

According to The Straits Times, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam has also weighed in on the matter.

Speaking to reporters at the Treasury on Nov. 9, he said:

"When you make allegations of corruption, money laundering against the Prime Minister, Government of Singapore that we are complicit in this and so on, we'll take this very seriously."

Shanmugam said that the police will take action against everyone involved based on investigations and advice from the Attorney-General's Chambers.

He added that it was untrue that Singapore was reluctant to investigate the 1MDB scandal.

He listed the measures that Singapore had undertaken on the matter, including:

  • Singapore was the first jurisdiction to take action against the financial institutions and individuals involved in 1MDB.
  • MAS has shut down two banks and imposed fines of around S$29.1 million on eight other banks, among other measures.
  • MAS has conducted a two-year-investigation of both foreign and local banks in the most extensive supervisory review it has ever taken.
  • Singapore is the first, and to date the only country to secure convictions of individuals who facilitated money laundering.
  • Investigations in Singapore are continuing into other suspects.

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Top image adapted from Holmusk and SGReformPartyTV’s YouTube video