DPM Heng invokes POFMA against FB user who claimed S$15 billion of govt Budget goes to SIA

Based on a false premise.

Sulaiman Daud| April 01, 10:55 AM

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat invoked the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulations Act (POFMA) against a Facebook user who claimed that almost one-third of the Resilience Budget would be used in Singapore Airlines' (SIA) capital-raising exercise.

The Mar. 29 post by user Tifinnytara falsely claimed that a substantial part of the S$48 billion Resilience Budget, announced by Heng on Mar. 26, would go towards SIA.

The post read:

"Don't be too happy that you have $48b. The bulk of almost 1/3 goes to SIA, 55% TEMASEK OWNED (how did our national carrier became temasek own at 55%???). Cash n immediate release to SIA! N another $??? M also to SIA. Not to mention other temasek businesses getting help too. So Indian president halimah open reserves of $17b is mainly for Temasek.

Only 88,000 gets $1000 for 9 mths not everyone. The rest needs to apply not immediate. Maybe majority left with crumbs. So read the fine prints before jumping with joy. Are you sure the SG gov is so good?

I wonder after election, how we gonna pay for the $48b???? Don't be fooled again. Share the NEWS! GE is here!!!"

And you can see it below:

As of 10:00am on April 1, it had 84 reactions, eight comments and 269 shares.

SIA's capital-raising exercise is not paid for by the government

There's a lot to unpack here.

Firstly, Tifinnytara appears to have mistaken SIA's capital-raising exercise as a direct cash infusion from the government.

If one reads the Resilience Budget, which you can do so here, you can see how the money is allocated and note that S$15 billion of it does not go towards SIA.

While it's true that SIA seeks to raise S$15 billion in capital, it is doing so by issuing new shares and bonds.

Government does not control Temasek's actions

SIA's largest shareholder, state-investment fund Temasek, will "vote in favour of the resolutions and will procure a subscription for its full entitlement and the remaining balance of both issuances."

The Singapore government does not control Temasek's actions.

Reserves will not "mainly be used for Temasek"

Tiffinytara also concludes that since Heng has secured in-principle approval for President Halimah Yacob to draw down S$17 billion of past reserves, and because Temasek is SIA's majority shareholder, then this must mean that the reserves is "mainly for Temasek".

Of course, this conjecture is wrong from start to finish.

Government fact-checker site Factually provides a breakdown of how the S$17 billion will be actually be used:

  • Enhancement of Jobs Support Scheme (S$13.8b)
  • Enhancement of financing schemes (S$1.7b)
  • Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (S$1.2b)
  • Aviation Sector Support Package (S$0.4b)

It adds: "None of the above schemes are ring-fenced to be for Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited (“Temasek”) or Temasek-linked companies."

"Crumbs"

Tifinnytara made additional claims in their post, which states:

"Only 88,000 gets $1000 for 9 mths not everyone. The rest needs to apply not immediate. Maybe majority left with crumbs. So read the fine prints before jumping with joy. Are you sure the SG gov is so good?"

This appears to refer to the $1,000 direct cash assistance granted to eligible self-employed persons in Singapore per month for nine months.

It also appears to refer to the Temporary Relief Fund, which provides support for unemployed workers provided certain criteria are met.

However, these points were not addressed in Factually.

As it stands, the Correction Direction requires user “超静” (“tifinnytara”) to carry in full, the correction notice at the top of the Facebook post.

Related story:

Top image from Tifinnytara's Facebook page.