Court: Untenable that a statement is false just because a minister says so

After the SDP won a partial victory in court in the POFMA case against the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the MOM quickly issued another POFMA against us yesterday.

Unbelievable but true.

The Court of Appeal had ruled in favour of the SDP over one of the Correction Directions the MOM issued against the SDP in December 2019. Specifically, it ruled that in one of our posts where we had stated that “locals” (ie. Singaporeans) were being displaced by foreigners in the PMET sector, the SDP was referring specifically to Singaporean citizens and not Singapore PRs.

Very importantly, the court said that just because a minister declares that a statement is false does not necessarily make it so.  The Justices wrote that such a premise is “untenable” and noted: “The minister may, after all, be mistaken.” It then pointedly added that “Truth and falsehood are ultimately matters to be determined by a court based on the evidence.”

Such an observation has huge implications, both legally and politically, going forward – a matter that the SDP will address at a later point.

Then quite incredibly, the MOM issued another POFMA yesterday against the SDP. It said that even if the SDP’s FB post referred only to Singaporeans, the statement is still false because employment for citizens in the PMET sector had gone up “from 2015 to 2019”.

But nowhere in our post did we say that the period was only from 2015 to 2019. It is the PAP that restricted our post to this period. In fact, taking the trend in that decade, the statistics prove our case. 

The government cannot be allowed to impute things that we did not say and then label our statement as fake news. 

The latest action by the PAP goes beyond just this case which started in December 2019. It has enormous implications on the future and governance of this country. It must not be allowed to be the final arbiter of what’s true and false, what’s right and wrong.

As it is, this present case crystallizes what the SDP has said all along about the PAP’s intention with POFMA. Singaporeans were told that the law would not affect “honest discussions, and strangling the marketplace of ideas.”Sadly, MOM’s current actions are doing exactly that.

Our original post and the current Correction Direction can be found here.

You can post your comments here.