POFMA, or the Prevention of Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act was passed into law yesterday by the Parliament of Singapore. It covers whatever is communicated online, including on closed, private channels like Whatsapp and Telegram.
There are many, many articles online about it, some highlighting the need for such a law and others pointing out the pitfalls. Ministers have spoken at length of the dire need for POFMA and the wide-ranging powers that it gives them. The same ministers have also sought to calm fears about the potential for POFMA to be abused.
The main argument, as far as I can discern, is that we don’t really have to worry about Ministers abusing the powers given by POFMA because there are checks and balances in place:
- The Ministers themselves – the best of the best, we can trust these hand-picked gods-amongst-men to invoke POFMA only where absolutely necessary.
- The courts – you can appeal against the Ministers’ decisions here (but you must appeal to the Minister first, and then only can appeal to the courts).
- Parliament – abuses of POFMA can be raised in Parliament (presumably by PAP MPs under their patented “ownself-check-ownself” system or non-PAP MPs – if we still have any).
- Elections – once every five years or so, we can vote an unscrupulous Govt out.
Therefore rest easy folks, and enjoy our new reality.
In celebration of POFMA, I’ve written a little poem that is all opinion, no fact. Enjoy.
You say “marketplace of ideas”,
But you mean Monopoly.
You say “read the right thing”,
But you mean “listen to me”.
You say “regardless of race”,
But you mean “Singapore not ready”.
You say “to have sex, no need much space”,
But you live in landed property.
You say “every school’s good”,
But your children go only to the best.
You say “celebrate hawker food,”
But hawkers are ignored, hard-pressed.
You say “We will consult”,
After decisions already made.
You twist and turn, I’ve come to learn,
For that you are well paid.
You pass a “fake news” law
But it doesn’t apply to you.
Because “Do as I say”,
And not “Do as I do”.