SINGAPORE – The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office has said activist Jolovan Wham’s claims that he was asked to apologise during an interview with the office on Oct 22 were untrue.
Mr Wham posted on Facebook on Oct 24 that he was asked by a Pofma officer at the end of a three-hour investigation if he wanted to apologise for his actions.
He was called to the office for an interview after he and eight others were issued correction directions from the Pofma Office. This was for posts that suggested that Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam had said in Parliament that the rule of law does not operate in Singapore.
Mr Wham wrote in a post about his interview: “The implication was that if I did (apologise), they might decide to let me off the hook. But what a terrible choice one has to make to avoid legal troubles!”
He added that he could not bring himself to apologise and claimed the authorities were using their power to scare others into submission and humiliate him.
The Pofma office said instead that it was Mr Wham who had asked the investigating officer if he was expected to apologise, in a written statement on Monday (Nov 1) to address Mr Wham’s post.
The officer replied that it was for Mr Wham to decide as this was his statement, the office added.
The statement wrote: “The Pofma Office categorically rejects Mr Wham’s claims. His claim that he was asked if he wanted to apologise during the interview is false.”
Mr Wham was one of nine entities who had received letters from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Oct 7 asking them to correct false statements and apologise for misquoting Mr Shanmugam.
Checks show the seven are activists Andrew Loh, Kirsten Han, Martyn See, Julie O’Connor, Kokila Annamalai and Lynn Lee, and Facebook page Wake Up Singapore.
The other two are Peoples Voice chief Lim Tean and Mr Wham.
These misrepresentations were also published by news website Mothership in its article on Oct 6, which had since published an editor’s note to clarify and correct the statement.
The posts in question had completely misstated what Mr Shanmugam said at the debate on the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act, MHA said.
“The minister had repeatedly affirmed, in Parliament, the importance of the rule of law for Singapore and the Government’s strong and continued commitment to the rule of law,” the ministry said on Oct 8.
“He had said there are some countries around the world where the rule of law is a concept for lawyers, but does not operate in the real world, and their societies live in utter misery. He used this as a contrast to how the rule of law is applied in Singapore.”