SINGAPORE (May 10): After the longest Parliament sitting in Singa­pore to debate legislation, the city state passed a law that gives portfolio ministers — part of the group of political office holders in Singapore — the power to decide what amounts to news that is false and against the public interest, and order that it be either corrected or taken down.

The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, widely referred to by its acronym Pofma, carries penalties for those who refuse to comply with the minister’s order — of up to $1 million for companies and up to $20,000 for individuals, with the possibility of a maximum of a year’s jail.

Those who disagree with the minister’s decision can appeal to him or her and, if the appeal is rejected, can ask for the case to be heard by a High Court judge.

The law had generated vigorous debate inside and outside the House.

Over two days, Members of Parliament raised concerns over what constituted a falsehood, versus an opinion; whether having the judiciary as the final arbiter was a good enough check on the executive; and what would happen if there was a “rogue” government in the future.

Still, the Bill was passed after two rounds of voting. 

What were some of the dissenting factors raised against the legislation, and what were reasons for voting in favour of it?

Login to read more at Singapore MPs vote overwhelmingly in favour of fake news law despite dissent, debate in this week’s issue of The Edge Singapore, Issue 881 (Week of May 13), which is available at newsstands today.