President Halimah urges Singaporeans not to spread falsehoods, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

President Halimah urges Singaporeans not to spread falsehoods

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President says to use Health Ministry's information to quash falsehoods about Wuhan virus

President Halimah Yacob has urged Singaporeans to avoid spreading rumours and falsehoods amid the global health crisis sparked by the Wuhan coronavirus.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Madam Halimah also called on Singaporeans to remain calm and assured them that the Government was doing its best to prevent the spread of the virus.

"Our hospitals and healthcare staff are under tremendous pressure to prepare themselves in the event the situation worsens," she wrote. "But they can only do so much without the support of our people in this effort to keep everyone safe."

An important way that the public can help the government efforts to contain the Wuhan virus is "not to spread falsehoods, misperceptions and rumours which will cause confusion, panic and anger", she said.

"This will distract our agencies battling this virus and divert attention from the critical task at hand," she added.

She noted that the Ministry of Health has put up relevant information on its website and issued timely statements, and urged the public to use the ministry's information to quash rumours and falsehoods.


Comparing the Wuhan virus with the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak in 2003, Madam Halimah said: "The social media is so much more pervasive this time compared to the 2003 Sars outbreak, and the potential for spreading mischief, distortions and untruths is tremendous."

She added: "We have the experience of battling with Sars, and we are prepared. So please stay united and do our best in this current outbreak so that we can keep ourselves and our families safe until this blows over."

On Tuesday, the Government invoked the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act against Facebook to correct two posts that told people to avoid Woodlands MRT station, claiming a suspected case was discovered there. The posts, put up by different accounts, also falsely claimed the station was closed for disinfection.

On Monday, SPH Magazines was asked to correct an online post on the HardwareZone forum that falsely claimed a man in Singapore had died from the Wuhan virus infection. The company had earlier taken down the thread, in line with its community guidelines, and also complied with the order.

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran warned on Monday that swift action would be taken against such falsehoods as they could cause panic among Singaporeans.