S’pore demands correction to Facebook post on M’sia travel

SINGAPORE • Singapore’s government has issued a correction notice to a Facebook post by a page called “State News Singapore”, which is often critical of the ruling party and its leaders, contesting its description of a recent call between Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong and PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin over easing travel restrictions.

The post in question said Singapore’s Lee personally called his Malaysian counterpart requesting to open up daily commutes between the countries and that Malaysia refused. The government, in the correction directions, said this was “false”. Malaysia requested the call, and made the proposal for a daily cross-border commuting arrangement, Singapore’s government said.

The direction is the first known use of Singapore’s recently-enacted fake news law, known as POFMA, since the 2020 election was called. The election will be held on July 10.

The government also issued a targeted correction direction to Facebook, as well as a correction direction to Alex Tan, a frequent government critic who shared the post and has been targeted under the law before.

The Workers’ Party main proposals include opposing the government’s plan to increase the Goods and Services Tax, and reiterating calls for a national minimum wage and unemployment insurance, it said on Sunday. It sought a minimum monthly take-home wage of S$1,300 (RM3,998) for full-time workers.

“A large number of Singaporean families have difficulty making ends meet, even though their breadwinners are working hard to provide for them,” according to the manifesto. It also called for “abolishing the retirement age and allowing Singaporeans to work for as long as they are able and willing to” and an insurance programme to “ease financial pressure on workers who have been made redundant”.

Yesterday, the Progress Singapore Party unveiled a manifesto of its own advocating for a stronger social safety net to help Singaporeans through the Covid-19 crisis. The party, which has attracted PM’s estranged brother Lee Hsien Yang to join, wants to address home leasing issues at public housing flats and increase the quantum of pension withdrawal at age 55.

They are also running on a platform of reducing the parliamentary stronghold by the People’s Action Party (PAP), expanded presidential oversight and ensuring independence at key institutions.

“We want more transparency,” party leader and former PAP MP Tan Cheng Bock said during a press briefing to introduce the manifesto. “These are very fundamental things.”

Singapore unveiled four stimulus packages in about three months’ worth a total of S$92.9 billion, laden with cash handouts, tax waivers and wage subsidies to help residents and businesses during the pandemic. The government still plans to raise the Goods and Services Tax by 2025, but won’t increase it next year, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in February. — Bloomberg