Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam recently sat down with tech and lifestyle site Vulcan Post to respond to netizens’ concerns on the recently passed Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) — an anti-fake news law that will provide the government with powers to act against online falsehoods to protect public interest.

Among other questions, Shanmugam answered a question one netizen posed to him, expressing concerns about whether POFMA will be abused to “stifle opposition voices”. The netizen said, “I am all for restrictions on fake news but at the same time I do not want it abused for political reasons.”

The minister asserted: “Agree entirely. How would it stifle opposition’s voices? Opposition’s task is to point out deficiencies in government policies, what they disagree with, why people should support a different point of view. None of that is covered in this bill.

“I’m sure that people don’t want the opposition or the governmenlt, or anybody else, to deal in falsehoods to affect public interest. So, it shouldn’t stifle opposition voices.”

Tan Cheng Bock and Shanmugam all smiles as political challenge looms