POFMA is supposed to correct falsehoods. What’s the point of issuing it after Wake Up SG has already corrected and apologized for the story?
On 23 March 2022, Wake Up, Singapore (WUSG) shared a story about a woman who claimed that she suffered a miscarriage after waiting four hours to see a doctor at KK Hospital’s (KKH) A&E department. The patient even sent WUSG a copy of her invoice (dated 2 March 2022) to prove that the incident happened.
Before posting, WUSG e-mailed KKH to clarify the story.
“We sent an email to KKH prior to the publication of the story. In our email, we copy pasted the woman’s entire account, and attached it. KKH responded to ask the name of the patient. We informed the woman, and she said she will reach out to them directly.”WUSG
KKH Issues Statements About The Story
On 24 March, KKH issued statements about their investigations into the incident. They mentioned that they were unable to identify the patient.
“Despite our best efforts, we are still unable to identify the patient based on the scenario reported… Preliminary investigations indicate that there is no such case at the hospital on the date indicated in the report.”KKH
In response, the patient argued that KKH called her prior to issuing their statement, pointing out that it means KKH is lying about failing to identify the patient.
On 25 March, KKH lodged a police report.
Incident proved to be false.
On the day itself, the patient finally admits to WUSG that her account is false. She also claims that the receipt she provided was not doctored, and that she chose to exaggerate her story because of grief.
Following this (still on 25 March), WUSG removed all the post about this patient and made a separate post clarifying that the account is false. They also apologized to KKH.
Two days later on 27 March, WUSG was issued a POFMA notice for publishing the woman’s claims.
There should be no need for the government to issue WUSG a POFMA notice after they clarified!
First of all, they already apologized and posted a correction notice. What is the point of issuing POFMA after that? POFMA is supposed to be a tool to prevent the spread of fake news, issuing after the fake news has been corrected is pointless.
Secondly, it is evident that the patient was the one who was out to defame KKH. She is the one who provided the fake news, and WUSG did as much as they can to try and verify the story. The patient provided the invoice (with her real name) along with other details. WUSG even e-mailed the hospital before posting.
WUSG should not be faulted for the fact that the patient had an almost flawless account with proof. If anything, the patient should be the one to be issued a POFMA notice. After all, POFMA notices can be issued to individuals, with the penalty of fines and/or prison terms imposed on the offender.
The government is just out to get alternative voices!
This incident proves that the government will always be out to get alternative media sites. It indirectly encourages people to share fake stories to alternative media platforms because they will not be punished for it. Rather, the alternative media sites will be the ones to suffer and risk having their platforms being taken down.
The government is playing dirty again.