A big hello to all the new subscribers and Milo Peng Funders who joined the We, The Citizens community over the past week! Thank you so much, everyone, for reading and sharing and being supportive.
I’ve already covered the two sets of resignations in two special issues of this newsletter this week (here and here), so I decided that this weekend wrap should focus on the other (more) important things that happened. Read on!
There’s been a bunch of POFMA orders recently. The content that they’re targeting and the “corrections” they’ve issued are really quite petty and desperate. I’m finding it pretty embarrassing, and I’m not even the one making these orders or having to implement them.
Between 16 July and yesterday, POFMA correction directions were issued to six individuals/entities. I’m just going to pluck out a couple of examples: The digital magazine Jom was accused of, among other things, making false claims about the government forcing Instagram to geo-block a post and that the Singapore Land Authority had spent over S$1 million renovating the Ridout Road properties because they knew that ministers would be the tenants. But if you read Jom’s article, they don’t seem to have actually made such claims? They’ve announced their plan to challenge the POFMA order in court.
Another very silly POFMA order, this time against Andrew Loh, The Online Citizen’s co-founder who continues to have a decent social media following. Indranee Rajah, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Leader of the House, said that Loh had falsely claimed that a Committee of Privileges had been convened to look into Pritam Singh’s failure to disclose knowledge of Raeesah Khan’s lie in Parliament. This is wrong, the government says; the committee had actually been convened to look into Raeesah’s conduct. This is such petty splitting of hairs—the COI did dig into what Pritam knew and when, and even ended with his case being referred to the police.
To top it all off, The Online Citizen was also made a “declared online location”—the first website ever to be listed as such. TOC will now be required to put notices at the top of their website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn stating that they’ve been made DOLs for the duration of the declaration. This means that, for the next two years, it’s illegal for TOC’s operator (i.e. Chief Editor Terry Xu) to “derive financial or other material benefit” from operating the website and its social media pages.
Race and racial discrimination
Subhas Nair has been convicted of trying to “promote ill will between races and religions” in a parody rap video and comments on social media. 😡 😡 😡 Sentencing will determined at a later date, but the maximum penalty is three years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both.
Also tragically, Uvaraja Gopal, a police officer, died by suicide after writing a Facebook post about experiencing racial discrimination and a toxic workplace culture in the Singapore Police Force. K Shanmugam, minister for home affairs and law, has directed the SPF to investigate his claims.
The Auditor-General’s report
The Auditor-General’s Office has published its annual audit of government accounts, and flagged lapses and weaknesses in statutory boards and government agencies like the People’s Association and the Ministry of Communications and Information.
Some examples: three grassroots organisations in the PA gave or renewed contracts with contractors who had already been debarred—they’d either failed to check their status, or knowingly gave them the contracts. Also, grassroots organisations were found to have co-mingled their funds with staff members’ personal funds; one such organisation transferred a total of S$707,000 into the personal bank accounts of a couple of staff members so that they could withdraw money for cash disbursements to welfare assistance recipients. Another transferred S$334,500 to someone’s personal account so they could reimburse hawkers under a voucher assistance scheme. The Public Service Division was also found to have granted excessive access rights to IT vendor staff, including access rights to the keys used for the encryption and decryption of data.
You can find the full report here.
Got some more...
🎤 Now that Tan Chuan-jin is out of the picture, Seah Kian Peng is going to be nominated as the next Speaker of Parliament.
🗳️ Ng Kok Song has come forward to express his intention to run for president. He used to be GIC’s chief investment officer.