It is never easy to please everyone. Recently, a group of academics signed a letter against the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill.
On the surface, they were concerned that the anti-fake news Bill will disrupt their research as the bulk of their job is to dispute facts. However, could it really be that simple? Are they genuinely concerned about POFMA’s impact on academia or is there more to the story?
On a closer look, the letter was signed by as many as 124 academics, most of whom are foreigners. Is it safe to say, then, that it represents the concerns of Singaporeans? Whose interests, exactly, is the letter trying to protect? Singaporeans, really?
The more important question is, why are they trying to pass it off as a local voice and why are they interfering with our legislation?
Do not be duped. The letter could be a form of foreign interference. Many researchers are activists themselves and may be using this opportunity to further their cause in Singapore or stifle political discourse.
Even Education Minister Mr Ong Ye Kung said: “It is in their activist role that some of these academics are voicing their concerns about POFMA”.
He ensured that POFMA will not disrupt research practices given the strict disciplinary measures in academia. Researchers do not have to worry as it is “impossible” to run afoul of the law. Those who continue to worry, however, may have more of an agenda.
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