Jan 15, 2018

“Fake news”?: Allegations made by Shanmugam against TOC




I read with great interest that Minister of Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam has been appointed as one of the committee members to review the situation of fake news being disseminated in Singapore.


The Minister has in recent times, voiced his displeasure on alternative news sites, particularly, The Online Citizen (TOC) in Parliament, pointing that the publication engages in falsehoods, particularly against the police. So it is pretty likely that the Minister will include the past allegations against TOC in the report by the committee.


So as part of TOC's submission to the deliberation process, here is a look at some of the allegations made by the Minister in recent times.


During his Parliament statement made on the 14-yr-old Benjamin Lim's suicide case in March 2016, the Minister claimed that TOC had gone on an orchestrated campaign of falsehoods against the police.

He said,


A number of these falsehoods have been put out by The Online Citizen (TOC). It has gone on a planned, orchestrated campaign, using falsehoods and has published about 20 articles or so, as part of its campaign. One example of the falsehoods, as I had said earlier, Police have said on 1 February that they went down in plain clothes. Yet TOC published an article on 5 February saying that police wore attire stating the word "Police". The suggestion is that the police were lying to Singaporeans.
They supposedly relied on a posting by a lady, Mary Anne Pereira. She had stated that her son saw Police officers with Polo T-shirts in the word "Police". Police checked with Ms Pereira. She says she had gotten it wrong. She got her dates mixed up. She is wrong because the Police went to the school, in plain clothes on 26 January. She has taken down her post.
People make many statements online. They can be mistaken. That is why there is a Court process to establish the truth. The overall narrative and impression conveyed by the various TOC articles are: (i) Police were lying; (2) Police intimidated the boy; and (3) Police put pressure on him to confess to a crime that he did not commit. Allegations, implications which are false, practically leading people to conclude that Benjamin committed suicide as a result.


He then presents a table to list some of the articles and the alleged falsehoods, unfounded implications which the articles are said to convey.


Before we touch on the Minister's presented allegations. Here is the conversation that TOC had with the mother who claims her son had told her that the officers had Police written on their t-shirts. One can read the report that TOC wrote in relation to the mother's statement here.

As mentioned in the Minister's speech, the police denied the claims but refuse to release the CCTV footage which would clear all doubts on the matter, even at the coroner's inquiry of Benjamin Lim's death.


Next, we look at the table of falsehoods that the Minister presented. Thanks to the defunct Middleground, the allegations that were presented to the Parliament are preserved online. (Facebook source)

As an example of how strong the Minister's accusation against TOC is, we refer to one of the stories highlighted in the presented table. "Father with dementia, forced to confess to an offence by police". The story is based on what a daughter wrote into TOC describing how her father with dementia was forced to confess to an offence which was not committed by him and how she had to go through means and ways in order to redress her father. The police never wrote back in response to TOC's inquiries.


What the Minister did not highlight in his presentation is that the end result of the case was that the father mentioned in the case had the charges dropped.


In fact, all the allegations in the table did not have any form of explanation as to why are the stories considered allegations and how they are connected to Benjamin Lim's case, other than highlighting the issue with the lack of checks and balances of the police force.


Also in April 2017, Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan asked in Parliament whether the police will consider taking action to protect its reputation when persons make false and malicious allegations against the police.


In response to his question, the Minister said,


The Online Citizen (TOC) glorifies in running the Police down with a series of untrue stories. I referred to some stories last year on their untruths. In a recent case, TOC alleged that Police officers had accused a wheelchair-bound man of motorcycle theft. It was designed to make people angry; falsehood. The Police corrected the allegation within a day. The man was never accused of being involved in any motor vehicle theft, nor was he asked to provide any statement at a police station.


Mr Lim was raising the question in response to a story that was highlighted to TOC by a daughter who wrote in about her wheelchair-bound father, who was then accused of being involved in a case of motorcycle theft by police officers from the Singapore Police Force.



What the Minister did not mention in his reply is that TOC had written to the Police two months prior to the publication of the story and the police choose not to reply. Only when the story was published and went viral, did the police publish a clarification on its Facebook page to disclaim the allegation made by the daughter against the officers of the case. And the details of the case, proves that the recollection by the daughter had been correct, other than the part where the police officers had wanted to bring the father back to the station.


So as anyone can see from the past incidents, other than the police saying that what has been written are untrue, there is no other evidence to prove otherwise and the government's stance is that so long the police deny of the allegations, there is no truth to the matter.


Will the government's definition of deliberate fake news be such that anything that the government deems fake will be fake without the need for proof? And how is it that the government agencies such as the Police can simply refuse to answer any queries that are of the public interest?







Jan 17, 2018

Terry Xu is certainly very prepared to go to jail it seems.........

New Posts
  • SPF STATEMENT ON AWARE’S FACEBOOK POST CRITICISING SPF’S CRIME PREVENTION POSTER We refer to comments made by AWARE on Police crime prevention posters, warning against outrage of modesty. These posters are displayed on the public transport network. These posters are part of crime prevention visuals that the Police have produced in collaboration with the National Crime Prevention Council and Singapore Polytechnic’s Media, Arts & Design School. Other crimes such as shop theft and dishonest misappropriation of property are also featured in these visuals. These visuals target potential perpetrators, and specifically highlight the punishments for committing the criminal acts, in order to send a strong deterrent message. AWARE has criticised the posters, on the basis that they focus on the punishment, and do not refer to the harm suffered by the victim. AWARE does not seem to have understood the purpose of the posters. The posters are designed to warn would-be offenders, who are unable to exercise self discipline or control themselves, regardless of their knowledge of the harm that their act will cause to the victim. The visuals were designed to influence their behaviour, by telling them what punishment they will face. AWARE’s suggestion, on the other hand, is unlikely to have the intended deterrent effect on such offenders. The Police fully acknowledge that outrage of modesty victims suffer from trauma and other consequences. Indeed, and for this reason, the objective of these visuals is to prevent such harmful actions in the first place, by driving home the point that outrage of modesty is an egregious offence with serious penalties. Hence, our crime prevention messages are carefully curated, based on our understanding of the profile of offenders. It is unfortunate that AWARE has chosen to make these public judgements against the Police without any attempt to contact us to understand our perspective, despite having worked with us in the past to enhance support to victims of sexual offences. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10159102575364408&id=56706929407
  • Facebook user Gerard Ong has joined the chorus of criticism against the DPM with a critique that has garnered over 400 reactions and more than 300 shares on social media. A lengthy Facebook post criticising Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat over his dismal performance in Parliament last week is trending online. DPM Heng, who is expected to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and become Singapore’s fourth head of government after the next election, is widely considered the head of the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) fourth-generation (4G) slate of leaders. Last week, he introduced a motion in Parliament to get Workers’ Party (WP) politicians Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim to recuse themselves from the financial matters of their Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC). Instead of scoring a win for his party, Mr Heng fumbled. Multiple parties who were present in the House and those who watched the proceedings online noted that Mr Heng struggled to defend his motion when confronted with the WP’s position that they will be appealing the High Court decision in the apex court. A visibly flustered Mr Heng eventually called for an abrupt time-out in the middle of the proceedings. His hour-long speech introducing his motion was also called “rambling” and his closing remarks were considered “garbled” by those who were in the gallery. Prime Ministe Lee Hsien Loong was also seen looking exasperated as he coached Mr Heng on what to say. Facebook user Gerard Ong has joined the chorus of criticism against the DPM with a critique that has garnered over 400 reactions and more than 300 shares on social media. In a post published last Thursday (7 Nov), Mr Ong noted that this is not the first time Mr Heng has faced a roadblock during a parliamentary clash with WP chairman Sylvia Lim: “In March 2018, it was the trial balloon saga where Heng Swee Keat (HSK) asked Sylvia Lim to apologise and withdraw her allegation on the timing of the GST hike. Now he is asking her and Low Thia Khiang to recuse themselves from the town council’s financial matters. “Being a legal practitioner, Sylvia knew the motion was not legally binding and refused to do so. Besides if she did, it would clearly indicate to some degree that they were dishonest and untruthful in safeguarding public funds that were entrusted to them. “In both incidents HSK went head-on into two roadblocks when it was totally unnecessary for him to do so. Under parliamentary rules he did not breach any rules. But HSK should have known that Sylvia was not going to budge as she knew where she stood by the rules of the house as well. “What HSK must understand is when one apologises it really means one has done wrong. If Sylvia feels that she has done no wrong and has not profited from it why should she make statements or carry out actions to indicate her wrong doing? “In this case the courts have decided but the ruling will only be absolute when the appeal is heard and the final ruling given. This is called due process of law which in essence prohibits the government from taking any action against its citizens or agents of the government until a final verdict is delivered by the apex court.” Asserting that Mr Heng has shown once again that “he is still an amateur at the game,” Mr Ong wondered why he chose this course of action and speculated about whether Mr Heng was trying to prove himself to his party members. Pointing out that neither the current PM or the immediate past PM were very good examples of strong leaders, the netizen asserted that one who is high-handed is not necessarily a good leader: “HSK has again shown his hand that he is still an amateur at the game. I fail to understand why he adopted this latest course of action. I wonder who was his audience? Was it the Prime Minister, the cabinet and fellow PAP MPs? Was he trying to show them that as heir to the PAP throne, he is indeed a worthy successor to LHL? “What he should realise is LHL and GCT are not very good examples of strong and decisive PMs. The only reason GCT survived was because LKY was Senior Minister and Minister Mentor from 1990 to 2011, he provided the backbone to these two PMs. “Well we know why LHL became PM and how he has performed. But at least LHL has pretty decent oratorical skills and is articulate. “HSK must now realise that being high-handed does not mean you are a good leader. Look at what people are saying on the internet of his recent spat with Sylvia. A good leader knows when to open up and when to take decisive action.” Opining that Mr Heng, who also serves as Finance Minister, may be good with numbers but may not be a good leader for the people, Mr Ong added: “Good leaders always take calculated risks and aim to win. Poor leaders always stumble because they have not thought through their intended decisions and its ramifications. HSK is in essence a numbers man but not a good leader of people. “Richard Hu who was Finance Minister from 1985 to 2001 was a classic example of a behind the scenes numbers man. Although he was eloquent, he was not a leader in the true sense of the word. “Goh Keng Swee was a brilliant economist and blue-skies man but was inept as a public speaker. They were in reality good planners and visionary political leaders. Men like them knew they were never good PM material.” Calling Mr Heng an “uninspiring leader who is unable to galvanise his followers,” Mr Ong said that the DPM’s “lack of presence” and poor communication skills worry him given the geo-political situation in the region: “HSK from his recent showings is an uninspiring leader who is unable to galvanise his followers. He lacks presence and his communicative skills are below par. This worries me as the world has become a dangerous place. “The geopolitical situation in the Asia Pacific has become less stable. The rise of China and its military prowess is a cause of worry as China knows that whatever we may say or do, we are still in the American camp. “The wheels are still churning up north as well. If you have watched recent political developments you will see alliances being struck between old enemies. As yet we still do not know who will succeed Mahathir. “In Indonesia, Joko Widodo has appointed his political rival, Prabowo Subianto as his Defence Minister as well as others who were against the President in the hustings. These developments could affect the immediate political relationship over areas such as airspace management, defence arrangements, border controls and the like. “At a time like this we need a decisive leader who is smart at navigating and taking on the challenges which will surely come our way. A leader who is also compassionate and one who puts his country, his people and party (in that order) before himself. “In this day and age of electronic media broadcasts and TV, a leader must have excellent communicative skills. This is definitely a veto quality in my books. “Why Singapore did well from 1965 onwards was because we had LKY and a very able cabinet in our formative years. When LKY spoke, you can’t help but listen. Not only was he bright but he was street- smart and competent as well. His cabinet comprised able and selfless men who were up to the job. “They knew how the game was played. In the past there was no internet and social media in existence, so we all pulled the oars together. But those days are gone. Singaporeans are better educated, and more vocal. We are better informed and more exposed to the world at large. “Many of us have become “critical lovers” of Singapore. Our political leaders must remember that when we criticise our leaders it does not mean we are disloyal to our country or ungrateful for what the PAP has done for Singapore.” Pointing out that the times have changed and the people want more of a say in how the country is run, Mr Ong said that it may be good for Singapore in the long-term to elect an capable opposition in Parliament so that the ruling party will also rely on capable and decisive leaders: “But times have changed, the world has changed and our leaders must go with the change. Being high-handed in governance is passé We all want to have a better say in how our country is run. “In the next election, if members of the opposition are voted in, they will also be held accountable for their words and deeds. Perhaps it may be good for us in the long run to have a capable opposition in parliament as it will make for a better PAP with capable and decisive leaders who will understand that a one-party state is a thing of the past!” http://theindependent.sg/hsk-is-an-uninspiring-leader-who-is-still-an-amateur-at-the-game-criticism-against-dpm-heng-trends-online/

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