Alternative news site The States Times Review has refused to pull down an article which linked Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption scandal, despite the request of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
This came despite IMDA stating that it would block the access to the site if it refused to comply. In a statement to the press IMDA said, "IMDA has received a number of media queries regarding its Notice to States Times Review.As States Times Review has not complied by the stipulated time, IMDA directed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to restrict access to the site. All ISPs have effected the restriction."
It also added that since the article has also been shared on Facebook, IMDA has requested Facebook’s co-operation to remove the post. IMDA said:
Facebook has indicated that they will not accede to IMDA’s request. With regard to further regulatory actions, IMDA will decide on the appropriate actions to take based on the facts of each case.
Facebook declined to comment on Marketing's queries.
Meanwhile, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) also filed a report with the Singapore Police Force against the author of that article last week, on grounds that the statements in the article were "false and malicious, and impugned the integrity of MAS as a financial regulator". According to MAS, the article alleged that Malaysia had signed several unfair agreements with Singapore, in exchange for Singapore banks’ assistance in laundering 1MDB’s funds and called the article "baseless and defamatory".
Meanwhile, Alex Tan STR editor on a Facebook post confirmed the blocking of STR and said it was "blocked under false charges of fake news and criminal defamation laid by the Singapore dictatorship. As such, the website will cease and desist considering that it lost a channel to reach Singaporeans."
He also thanked readers for their support and said, "The sacrificial of my Singaporean passport is my last gift to my beloved Singapore and Singaporeans. Hereon, I will also announce that I have decided to stop writing and continue my life in Australia. This Facebook page will shut down in two weeks from now but the website will remain until the General Elections is over. Do take note that this shut down notice is of my own volition, and not pressure from anyone or the dictatorship. I have no intention to impugn my integrity bending forward for a scum government."
Here's the first post:
According to Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in a CNA article, the States Times Review's article, titled "Lee Hsien Loong Becomes 1MDB’s Key Investigation Target" contained "absurd allegations".
Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Minister said in Parliament that Facebook had fallen short in its claimed standards of transparency in handling the incident and user data. The Select Committee hearing on deliberate online falsehoods saw the attending of tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter. Representatives from the tech companies were grilled on their track records, statements and actions by the committee, in a bid to establish their reliability as partners in fighting fake news.