Civil Service Training & Public Education on POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)

Parliamentary Question, 8 July 2019

New Mandala

Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S Iswaran, with regard to the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (a) what is the Ministry’s training plan and guidelines for Ministers and their civil service teams on the use of the Act, especially in the assessment of fact and falsehood; and (b) what public education programmes are being planned on the intent and implications of the Act for ordinary citizens and civil society.

Mr S Iswaran: The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) is the result of a lengthy and thorough process of consultation and public discussion.

MCI and the POFMA Office have been working closely with colleagues from other Ministries to put in place processes and workflows to execute the law when it comes into effect later this year. Ministers, supported by their officers, have the requisite expertise in their diverse domains to assess firstly whether a statement is false, and secondly whether it is in the public interest to act against it. The determination of “falsehood” is well-established in law, and Ministries can seek views from AGC on such points of jurisprudence if in doubt. Ministries will also be supported by the POFMA Office, which will provide technical advice to ensure consistency in the implementation of the Act.

POFMA will not affect regular conversations and interaction, nor honest participation in public discourse by citizens and civil society. If someone unknowingly shares a falsehood, they may be asked to carry a correction if public interest is involved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)

The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and volunteerism in Parliament.

She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.

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