Letter to the Editor - Washington Post (14 April 2020)

14 Apr 2020

Regarding the April 6 editorial “The risky side of fighting lies”:

Online falsehoods are a threat to democracies. That is why Germany, France, Britain and Australia have adopted or are considering legislation to combat the spread of false information online. Singapore is not less vulnerable to online falsehoods than others. In fact, we are more vulnerable, being an open, English-speaking, multiracial and multi-religious city-state in a rapidly changing region.

Our proposed legislation was drafted after long examination and public debate. It would target deliberate online falsehoods that threaten public order, but it would not restrict expression of opinion. Thus, media companies could be compelled to correct or remove falsehoods that cause religious strife. But opinion columns would not be affected, no matter how critical of my government.

If the Singapore government is as authoritarian as the editorial alleged, why have so many leading media and technology companies made Singapore their hub for Asian operations? Every major publication in the world, including The Post, is available to Singaporeans.

Singapore’s approach may not conform to liberal preferences, but our laws are for us to make, and they work for us.

Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Washington
The writer is Singapore’s ambassador to the United States.

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