MCI restores access to East Asia Forum after cancellation of Pofma order

SINGAPORE – Access to the online academic platform East Asia Forum in Singapore has been restored.

This comes nearly a week after the website was blocked for failing to comply with a correction order issued by the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) office.

In a statement on Friday, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo has directed the Infocomm Media Development Authority to restore access to the East Asia Forum website.

Access to the Australia-based platform was blocked on Sept 16 after it failed to put up a correction notice for one of its articles titled A Spate Of Scandals Strike Singapore, which was published on Aug 18.

On Sept 13, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah instructed the Pofma office to direct the website to put up a correction notice because of several false claims in the article.

These false statements were linked to the article’s critique of the independence of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s approach in handling certain matters, among other things.

MCI said East Asia Forum had applied on Wednesday for the Pofma order to be cancelled.

The website has removed the article in question from all publication sites associated with it at the request of the author, Dr Chan Ying-Kit.

Dr Chan, who is an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS), has also issued a public apology on this matter, the ministry added.

Hence, Ms Indranee has instructed the Pofma office to cancel the correction direction issued to East Asia Forum.

Dr Chan had told Singapore news outlet Today that he “sincerely and unreservedly apologises” for the errors, omissions and false statements made in his article, which was written of his own volition, without NUS’ knowledge.

On Wednesday, NUS president Tan Eng Chye e-mailed staff to remind them to avoid violating Singapore’s laws. They were also told not to use the NUS affiliation when expressing their personal views.

A check by The Straits Times on Friday, however, found that a version of the article is still available on English-language digital news platform Asia Times, which is headquartered in Hong Kong. The platform had republished the article under a Creative Commons licence.

ST has contacted MCI with queries.


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