TOC applies for judicial review of Pofma order on Ho Ching’s pay
The Online Citizen (TOC) has applied for a judicial review of the Government's decision to flag as fake news several online posts about the pay of Temasek's chief executive and executive director Ho Ching.
This was disclosed in Parliament yesterday by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah in her reply to Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera.
The website was among four parties asked to correct their false claims that the annual salary of Ms Ho, who is Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's wife, is "NT$2.1 billion", "about 100 million SGD" or "S$99 million a year".
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had instructed the Protection From Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office to issue four correction directions on April 19 regarding the claims.
Besides the TOC Facebook page and website, the others who received the correction directions were The Temasek Review's Facebook page, HardwareZone user "darksiedluv" and lawyer Lim Tean, who is chief of opposition party Peoples Voice, for sharing the falsehood on his Facebook page.
Mr Perera, from the Workers' Party, had asked why the posts were deemed to harm the public interest, which is one of the conditions for invoking Pofma.
Ms Indranee, who is also Second Minister for Finance, said she was not able to answer the question as TOC had filed for a judicial review and the matter was now before the court.
Whether the correction directions had met the public interest grounds was one of the issues TOC had raised in its application, she added.
In issuing the correction directions on April 19, the Government had said it does not set the remuneration of staff in Temasek and that such decisions were made by the investment company's board and management.
Mr Perera also asked if such correction directions were good enough to prevent the erosion of public trust, since they had only flagged the claims as false and had not given the real figure.
"Does it really meet the objectives of reinforcing public trust? Or does that erode public trust as it will breed more speculation to no constructive end?" he added.
Ms Indranee replied: "The public trust will be upheld because the public will know that when the court decides on this issue, whether or not the test under Pofma was met."