SDP takes on MOM for first court challenge against use of POFMA

The hearing continues.

Sulaiman Daud| January 17, 04:01 PM

Jan. 16, 2020 came and went, and the first-ever court case challenging the use of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulations Act (POFMA) will continue for another day.

Despite an application by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), High Court Judge Ang Cheng Hock rejected the move to hold the hearing for its appeal in open court.

Public interest?

SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan said that as the dispute was over job security, it was of public interest to Singaporeans.

Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair, who was representing the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), said that public interest was not sufficient justification to hold the proceedings in open court.

The SDP also applied to take the case further, which could have meant a cross-examination of Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo.

SDP wrote on its website: "Earlier, the SDP applied to convert the Originating Summons into a Writ so that there can be discovery of documents and MOM officials, including Minister Teo, can be called to the witness stand and be cross-examined.

However, Judge Ang disallowed the application.

Here's what went down from the point-of-view of SDP and MOM.

SDP's argument

Chee shared a Facebook post, objecting to MOM's presentation of data:

"Dr Chee took issue with MOM’s graph showing no rise in retrenched PMETs. But the graph showed only data from 2015-2018. But why limit the data to only 2015? Dr Chee asked. Why not before 2015?"

Instead, he said that SDP's data, taken from MOM, spanned 2010 to 2018.

This demonstrated "a clear rising trend."

Chee said that he believed it was important to go back further than 2015, as "the problem started way before then".

Addressing MOM's assertion that SDP was "manipulating statistics" by taking data from 2010 onwards to show an upward trend of local PMET unemployment, Chee said that vice-versa, MOM could be said to be doing the same to downplay things by taking data from 2015 onwards.

You can also read an article on SDP's website explaining their stance here.

MOM's graph

MOM released a statement on Jan. 16, saying that the SDP was not done with their submissions, and that the Attorney-General's Chambers had not yet presented MOM's arguments to the judge.

They said that MOM will address Chee's point on the difference in years when presenting the statistics.

They also displayed a graph, with data taken from 2015 to 2019, to show that local PMET employment has risen steadily since 2015.

Another graph from 2015 to 2018 highlighted that the number of retrenched local PMETs has declined.

Screen shot from MOM.

You can read the full press release here.

The hearing resumed on Jan. 17, 2020.

Related story

Top image via