The Independent Singapore issued Pofma correction direction over article saying Shanmugam may step down
Alternative news website The Independent Singapore has been issued a correction direction under the fake news law for an article that gave a false impression that Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said he may be stepping down from his ministerial positions.
The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) said on Friday (April 22) that the article's headline "K Shanmugam says he may step down as Singapore's Minister of Law and Home Affairs", which appeared on The Independent Singapore's website as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts, was "deceptive clickbait".
The article, published on Thursday (April 21), was written by Mr Toh Han Shih, chief analyst of Headland Intelligence, a Hong Kong risk consulting firm.
It referred to Mr Shanmugam's interview with Tamil-language news platform Vanakkam Malaysia from earlier this month, and said the minister "revealed" that he may step down, without giving a specific time as to when he might do so.
Mr Shanmugam had shared a link to the video interview in a Facebook post on Tuesday (April 19).
MinLaw said in a statement that Mr Shanmugam had not said, during the video interview with Vanakkam Malaysia, that he may be stepping down from his ministerial positions or that he was contemplating doing so.
Instead, he had said that he considered serving people a privilege, which not everyone gets a chance to do, and that he must be ready to leave when he no longer has the people's support.
The minister also said that he should be ready to move on when there are capable leaders to replace him.
In addition, Mr Shanmugam said that he had maintained transparency in both his words and actions and will continue to do that - and if he can no longer continue to do so, he will leave his ministerial posts.
The ministry said: "It is quite false to state, from the interview, that the minister said that he may be stepping down from his positions.
"In addition, viewing the whole video will show that the minister, when he spoke about his own views, also intended his comments to be of general application, for persons holding ministerial appointments (when seen in the context of past comments of the PAP leadership, and history of the PAP)."
MinLaw added that the headline "was deceptive clickbait, with the falsity repeated in the first paragraph of the article".
Mr Shanmugam has instructed for correction directions, under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), to be issued to The Independent Singapore and to Mr Toh, the author of the article.
Mr Toh also shared the article on his Twitter account on Thursday (April 21).
Both The Independent Singapore and Mr Toh will have to publish a correction notice alongside the posts, with a link to the Factually article that states the facts and clarifications on the matter.
Factually is the government-run website that clarifies falsehoods.
The Factually article said Mr Shanmugam was asked: "Have you ever felt politics is not allowing you to be true to yourself and regretted about it?"
In reply, the minister had reaffirmed his willingness and desire to serve Singapore.
He also said: "I consider serving people as a privilege. Not everyone will get the chance... I am here as a minister because of people's support and love. The moment when there is no support, I must be ready to leave...
"When there are capable leaders to replace me then I should be ready to move on too. Only then will the country progress… I have maintained transparency in both my words and actions. I clearly tell the public what are the challenges and what do we need to do to overcome them. I will continue to do that. The moment when I feel I can't keep to that anymore, I will leave my ministerial posts."