Asia

MHA rejects Jolovan Wham's application to vary or cancel correction direction issued over Twitter post

SINGAPORE – The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has rejected an application filed by activist Jolovan Wham to vary or cancel a correction direction issued to him on Oct 8 over a Twitter post.

Responding to the application, MHA said on Thursday (Oct 14): “The conditions for issuing the correction direction are satisfied and the application did not disclose any grounds to the contrary.

“After having carefully considered the application, the Minister for Home Affairs has decided to reject it. Mr Jolovan Wham has been notified of the rejection.”

MHA had asked the Pofma Office, which administers the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, to issue a correction direction to Mr Wham for his Twitter post published on Oct 6.

This was because Mr Wham’s tweet had communicated the falsehood that Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam “adopts the view that the rule of law does not operate anywhere in the real world, including in Singapore”, MHA said.

Mr Wham was required to publish a correction notice on his online platform but did not do so.

On Oct 9, MHA said in a new statement that Mr Shanmugam, who is also Law Minister, had instructed the Pofma Office to issue a targeted correction direction to Twitter after Mr Wham’s non-compliance with the correction order issued to him.

The targeted correction direction requires Twitter to alert users who have seen Mr Wham’s tweet and inform them that it contains false claims about Mr Shanmugam’s views on the rule of law.

Shortly after the MHA statement, Mr Wham posted a correction notice on his Twitter account, saying his earlier tweet had contained false statements.

In a subsequent tweet on Oct 10, Mr Wham said he did not agree with the correction and planned to make an application to cancel or vary it.

MHA said on Oct 8 that it had issued letters to nine entities, asking them to correct false statements and apologise for misquoting Mr Shanmugam.

Besides Mr Wham, they were activists Andrew Loh, Kirsten Han, Martyn See, Julie O’Connor, Kokila Annamalai and Lynn Lee, Peoples Voice chief Lim Tean and Facebook page Wake Up Singapore.

These misrepresentations were also published by news website Mothership in an article on Aug 6.

As at Oct 8, all of them, apart from Mr Wham, had corrected or apologised for their posts. Mothership published an editor’s note to clarify and correct the misrepresentation.

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MHA said the posts in question had completely misstated what Mr Shanmugam had said during the parliamentary debate on the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act, or Fica.

“The minister had repeatedly affirmed, in Parliament, the importance of the rule of law for Singapore and the Government’s strong and continued commitment to the rule of law.

“He had said there are some countries around the world where the rule of law is a concept for lawyers, but does not operate in the real world, and their societies live in utter misery. He used this as a contrast to how the rule of law is applied in Singapore,” the ministry added.

Mr Shanmugam was responding to remarks by MPs on the role of the judiciary in overseeing Fica at a 10-hour debate on Oct 4.

Parliament later passed the Fica Bill, three years after it was first raised.

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