• Sun. Sep 24th, 2023

Singapore to block access to academic website East Asia Forum over failure to comply with POFMA order

Singapore to block access to academic website East Asia Forum over failure to comply with POFMA order

SINGAPORE: Internet service providers in Singapore will be ordered to block access to Australia-based academic website East Asia Forum, after the platform failed to comply with a correction direction by the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office.

The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) announced this on Saturday (Sep 16), three days after the POFMA order was issued to East Asia Forum.

“The Access Blocking Orders require internet access service providers to disable access for end-users in Singapore to the East Asia Forum’s website, where the falsehoods are communicated,” MCI said.

The POFMA order relates to claims made in an article titled “A spate of scandals strikes Singapore”, written by Dr Ying-Kit Chan from the National University of Singapore. 

The article contains false statements on matters such as the independence of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s approach in addressing extramarital affairs among parliamentarians, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Wednesday. 

Under the POFMA order, East Asia Forum is required to publish a correction notice at the top of the article and the website’s main page. 

East Asia Forum has not done so as of 12.30pm on Saturday. It had posted a link instead to a government statement at the end of the article’s comment section, at the bottom of the website.

“Should East Asia Forum subsequently comply with the full requirements of the Correction Direction, the minister will cancel the Access Blocking Orders,” MCI said. 

Separately, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah has instructed the POFMA Office to issue a targeted correction direction to Facebook’s Meta Platforms over the East Asia Forum article. 

Meta will be required to publish a correction notice to Facebook users in Singapore accessing the East Asia Forum post on Aug 18 which shared the article.

The last time Singapore moved to block an online publication for failing to comply with a POFMA order was in June, after Asia Sentinel did not carry a correction notice according to requirements.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said in May that the Asia Sentinel article, which contained an interview with the author of a 2021 commentary criticising Singapore’s handling of KTV lounges amid the COVID-19 pandemic, contained several falsehoods.

The California-registered publication remains blocked in Singapore.

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