Asia Sentinel issued Pofma correction orders over false claims, including on M. Ravi and Lee Hsien Yang

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SINGAPORE - Online publication Asia Sentinel has been asked to put up a correction notice, under the law against fake news, on one of its articles published on Wednesday containing several false statements.

These statements were related to a Nikkei Asia article; suspended lawyer M. Ravi; and Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern, who are under police investigation for possible offences of giving false evidence in judicial proceedings.

The article, titled “Singapore kills a chicken to scare the monkeys”, was written by the publication’s editor John Berthelsen.

In a statement on Friday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which initiated the corrections under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), took issue with three points made in the Asia Sentinel article:

  • That following the publication of Andy Wong’s article in Nikkei Asia on July 23, 2021, on “The institutional failures behind Singapore’s latest Covid outbreak”, the Singapore Government had threatened to end Nikkei Inc’s business operations in Singapore.
  • That Mr Ravi was suspended from practising law for five years because he had criticised the Government.
  • That Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern were forced to leave Singapore because government action was threatened against them for warring with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The statement on government fact-checking website Factually said that the false statements could erode public trust in the Singapore Government and the judiciary.

MHA said on Friday that the Nikkei Asia article had contained many factual inaccuracies.

A senior official from MHA had responded to the article on July 28, 2021. This was published as a letter to the editor in Nikkei Asia the next day.

In July 2021, when Wong’s opinion piece was published by Nikkei Asia, Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam had questioned Wong’s motives in writing it, calling it “little more than a work of fiction”.

The minister also mentioned that Wong was “ironically” charged over possessing obscene films and transmitting obscene materials in a sex-themed Telegram chat group, with investigations a...

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