Terry Xu fears POFMA will be abused during elections
If you need a masterclass on how to shoot yourself in the foot, look no further than Terry Xu’s (of Online Citizen fame) Facebook page.
Of late, he has turned his keyboards to POFMA – long after the matter has run its course, debated to death and enacted without concern from the majority public.
This time, Terry conflates POFMA with the General Elections. His gripe is the risk of Ministers abusing the legislation to silence critics or whistleblowers for a crucial nine days in the lead up to an election. To prove his point, he accused the PAP of covering up of the hepatitis C outbreak in 2015.
In 2015, SGH had a hepatitis C outbreak that resulted in the deaths of 8 individuals. The case had been scrutinised intensively; an independent committee convened to investigate and steps taken to make sure it never happens again. News of the Hep C outbreak was made public immediately after the elections for a good reason: it happened right before and was investigated before and through the GE. It is normal that agencies cannot go to press without facts, and this is no different. There’s no conspiracy!
With the above example, Terry has presented himself a paradox: if indeed the powers can delay investigations, then there is no need to use POFMA. POFMA would be a lousy tool if truly a corrupt party wanted to use it for delay.
If POFMA was ever going to be used to cover something up, it would create drama, uncertainty and ultimately create mistrust that would destroy the legitimacy of the government of that day.
In fact, in this day and age, do you think it would be wise of any government to cover up any sort of news? In days of technology and information, it would be far easier and more effective to tackle a matter head-on rather than allow questionable journalism to take a foothold, such as what the online citizen does.
This country is extremely sensitive to matters that would cause instability. It is observable that the government would rather take the bull by the horns and stamp out bad practices rather than allow a matter to go into the hands of political spin doctors.
Furthermore, MCI has clarified that in an election situation, Ministers will not be able to use their powers on POFMA.
Terry needs to be reminded again, and again, and again… that this country is founded on the rule of law. It’s legitimacy is that nobody exploits legislation.