The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office has issued correction orders to the Facebook pages of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and People's Voice (PV) for a false statement.
What was the false statement?
The false statement claimed that the CEO of the Housing & Development Board had suggested Singapore’s population will increase to 10 million by 2030.
Who else were issued the orders?
The orders were also issued to The Online Citizen Asia with respect to an article on its website and Facebook page, as well as the Facebook page of Sin Rak Sin Party.
The orders were issued on the instruction by the Alternate Authority for the Minister for National Development.
What did the POFMA Office say?
The POFMA Office said: “This is with regard to false statements of fact claiming that a statement made by Dr Cheong Koon Hean at the IPS-Nathan Lectures in 2018 suggested that our population would increase to 10 million by 2030. Dr Cheong made no statement suggesting that our population would increase to 10 million by 2030.”
It also said the government has clarified on multiple occasions that Singapore’s total population is likely to be significantly below 6.9 million by 2030.
What other action did POFMA Office take?
In addition, the POFMA office issued a Targeted Correction Direction to Facebook.
The social media platform has to apply a correction notice on posts with a picture carrying the same falsehoods.
This direction is issued to an internet intermediary as its service was used to communicate a falsehood that affects public interest.
Facebook, in other words, is required to communicate a correction notice to its users in Singapore who can access the falsehood.
The issue of Singapore’s population growth hitting 10 million has been a subject of intense discussions by opposing politicians this 2020 General Election following a televised live debate.
The People's Action Party candidate, Vivian Balakrishnan, repeatedly shot down SDP chief Chee Soon Juan's “false statement” that the government plans to increase the country’s population to 10 million.
Chee then cited an article in The Straits Times, which he claimed that Heng Swee Keat had stated the figure at a forum.
The Prime Minister’s Office has issued a statement to address the issue.
It said the government has not proposed, planned nor targeted for Singapore to increase its population to 10 million.
Heng later responded with his own statement.
He said: “As the Straits Times clarified this morning, I did not say that Singapore should plan to increase its population to 10 million people, nor did I mention the figure.”