Many foreign employees let go recently as Govt focuses on saving Singaporeans' jobs: Josephine Teo

SINGAPORE – The track record of the Government in protecting Singaporeans’ jobs and livelihoods is “crystal clear”, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on Friday (July 3), citing how foreign employment has served as a buffer in uncertain times and policies have consistently been tightened.

Because of initiatives such as the Jobs Support Scheme, which subsidises the wages of local workers, foreign employment shrank by 60,000 from January to May this year, she said.

“The Jobs Support Scheme is fulfilling its objective of saving jobs and protecting livelihoods. And as a result, when companies have to make a decision on whether to continue with their local employees or to continue with their foreign employees, I think it’s quite clear to them where the support from the Government is, and they will make their decisions accordingly,” said Mrs Teo.

“It’s very clear that in recession times, foreign employment has served as a buffer. And… this is a result of the tremendous support that is being provided to companies for local employment.”

Mrs Teo was speaking to the media after a visit to an SGUnited Jobs and Skills Fair at the Employment and Employability Institute in Jurong East. She disclosed that 12,000 people had been placed in new jobs under the initiative since March, even amid the uncertainty sparked by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Straits Times understands that the majority of them are Singaporeans and the rest are permanent residents.

Some opposition parties have spoken out on immigration issues during their election campaigns in the lead up to the general election on July 10.

In the first of two rounds of party political broadcasts on Thursday night, the Progress Singapore Party raised the issue of how many professionals, managers, executives and technicians had their jobs displaced by foreigners, while Peoples Voice called for S Passes to be frozen and Employment Passes to be reduced significantly.

Asked about such comments, Mrs Teo said that in this term of government, Employment Pass (EP) policies have been consistently tightened, with the salary criteria being raised.

The minimum salary for foreign professionals to qualify for an EP was raised most recently to $3,900 per month for new applicants, up from $3,600, in May.

The quotas for S Passes, which is the maximum proportion of a firm’s workers that can be S Pass holders, have also been tightened for various sectors such as services and construction, and the minimum salary to qualify for an S Pass has also been raised, she noted.

The roadmap to tightening is made clear to companies and they know it very well, she added.

“It would be useful for all political parties that wish to comment on this issue to study the facts of what we have been doing with regard to EP policy, S Pass policy,” said Mrs Teo.

“I think the track record of the Government in this regard is crystal clear. And we welcome comments, we welcome people to put forward good proposals, but it has to be grounded on facts and an understanding of what has actually been happening.”

Meanwhile, as the global pandemic threatens livelihoods, agencies in Singapore are focusing on matching people to jobs, finding them attachments with companies, and helping them acquire skills, said Mrs Teo.

But she noted that companies cannot be forced to hire.

The Government is also trying to incentivise hiring through schemes such as professional conversion programmes, and mid-career work attachments, she said.

Through company attachments, employers can assess trainees over time and hopefully offer them a position when business picks up.

“But right now to insist that the companies offer a permanent position I think is not a very realistic approach and I think reflects a certain lack of understanding of how the job markets work,” said Mrs Teo.

And to those who complained about a shortage of permanent openings, she said: “Is it better to have a position for six months, nine months (or) 12 months, or to have no positions open at all?”

Meanwhile, the Government was looking at helping businesses transform and match them with Singaporeans with specialist skills who can help the companies grow, she said.

“This period of difficulty will not last forever. You can look at it as an opportunity, or you can look at it as a problem and choose not to do anything about it. We choose to look at it as an opportunity,” she said.

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Singapore GE 2020: IMDA issues notice to Facebook to remove New Naratif's unauthorised paid online election ad

SINGAPORE – The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has issued a notice to Facebook to remove unauthorised paid online election advertising that was published on the social media platform by website New Naratif, the Elections Department (ELD) said on Friday (July 3).

New Naratif had placed a programmatic paid advertisement on Facebook that continued to be available after Nomination Day (June 30), which amounted to election advertising.

In doing so, it was deemed to be conducting election activity as defined in the Parliamentary Elections Act, although New Naratif was not authorised by any candidate or election agent to conduct election activity.

IMDA, the assistant Returning Officer, thus issued a notice to Facebook to remove the unauthorised paid online election advertising.

Facebook has removed the advertisement, of which IMDA did not give details.

Election advertising is defined as any material that can reasonably be regarded as intended to promote or procure the electoral success at any election for one or more identifiable political parties, candidates or groups of candidates; or to otherwise enhance the standing of any such political parties, candidates or groups of candidates with the electorate in connection with any election.

In the statement, ELD reiterated that the publishing of paid online election advertising requires the authorisation of a candidate or an election agent from the start of the campaign period, which starts from the end of Nomination Day proceedings.

“This ensures accountability, and prevents paid advertisements from being used as a conduit for foreign interference in the elections process, or for political parties and candidates to bypass the election expense limits,” it said.

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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Singapore GE2020: Climate change, social inequality, and BTO flat prices tackled in WP's third e-rally

SINGAPORE -Addressing climate change would not only make the future more liveable for today’s young voters, it would also provide opportunities for job creation and economic growth, said the Workers’ Party (WP) in its third e-rally on Friday (July 3).

The 35 minute-long talk show, broadcast on Facebook at 8pm, tackled other issues of concern for young voters, including social inequality, and the affordability of Build-To-Order (BTO) Housing Board flats.

“Climate change is not an isolated issue and is connected to social and economic development,” said Ms Raeesah Khan, part of the WP’s slate for Sengkang GRC.

Developing a green economy in Singapore, for example, could create jobs while ensuring the economy grows in a more robust and ethical way, she said.

“We need to include a variety of stakeholders in this conversation: not only consumers but also industries,” said Ms Khan, who at 26 is the youngest candidate being fielded by the WP this general election.

“This would allow for implementation of policies surrounding the use of green energy on an industrial level… ultimately, creating a green economy.”

Ms Khan, a social activist, was one of four WP candidates who were quizzed on issues that concern young voters by moderator Nicole Seah – who is part of the team contesting East Coast GRC – on the third Hammer Show.

The others included chief technology officer Gerald Giam, who is being fielded in Aljunied GRC, as well as lawyer Fadli Fawzi and digital product owner Nathaniel Koh, both of whom are part of the WP’s Marine Parade team.

Mr Koh touched on the issue of inequality, and how institutional structures disadvantaged families in the lower-income groups.

For example, he said he has met families on house visits who have children placed in primary schools far from home.

“Every cent matters. Public transport or school buses cost money,” said Mr Koh, 36. “So, how can we improve this situation? Can we have the children from low-income families placed in a school near their home, so they can reduce the cost of travelling to school?”

Mr Fadli also noted that the mandatory home-based learning for students because of the Covid-19 pandemic had shone a light on the inequities that have an impact on learning outside of school.

He said: “We should also think about the informal social ecology which affects young kids.” For example, a child from a big family may not have a room in which to study or do his homework, he said.

On the cost of  BTO flats, Mr Koh noted that they are currently priced on two criteria. One, they are priced lower than resale flats in the vicinity. Two, prices are determined by the attributes of the new flat, such as its size, and floor level.

But Mr Koh said that these criteria could be subjective.

Instead, BTO flat prices, especially in non-mature estates, should be based on the median monthly household income of Singaporeans, said Mr Koh. “I think that objective criteria will make affordability more sustainable in the long term.”

Mr Giam said that expensive flats could have knock-on effects for Singapore’s fertility rate.

He said: “The problem with expensive flats is that couples will end up delaying their marriage because… they can’t afford to find a flat right away. So they delay marriage and that has a knock-on effect on things like childbearing.”

Singapore GE2020: Get full election coverage on our dedicated site here.

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Coronavirus: First ministers of Scotland and Wales slam ‘shambolic’ air bridges announcement

The first ministers of Scotland and Wales have hit out at the UK government’s handling of its coronavirus travel quarantine.

Downing Street is set to reveal which countries will be exempt from the current requirement for passengers to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to England.

It has already been revealed that more than 50 countries will be on the list, including Spain, France, Italy and Germany.

Greece and the US will not be exempt, however.

But a row has broken out between Westminster and the devolved administrations over the policy, with the Department for Transport saying Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will “set out their own approach”.

Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon said the way Boris Johnson’s government has gone about setting up air bridges has been “shambolic”.

She said: “When so much is at stake as it is right now, we can’t allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of, to be quite frank about it, another government’s shambolic decision process.

“We want to welcome visitors again from around the world and we also want to allow our own citizens to travel.

“We also want, if possible for obvious practical reasons, to have alignment on these matters with the rest of the UK.”

This was echoed by Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, who said dealing with Westminster in the last few days had been an “utterly shambolic experience”.

“If ever there was an example of making an announcement first and then trying to work out what you meant by it – that is what we have seen since this announcement was first trailed in the press,” he said.

“And day after day we have attempted to get a sensible answer from the UK government on how they intend to make these changes, which countries they intend to extend the arrangements to, and I just have to say it’s been an impossible experience to follow.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News “we haven’t managed to get the devolved administrations to sign up to it yet”.

But he added: “This won’t come in until 10 July, so there’s still an opportunity for them to do that. It’s obviously a decision for them to make.”

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Sturgeon PANIC: Mass redundancy feared in Scotland as Boris rules out furlough extension

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The First Minister called on the Treasury to extend the financial support for workers and businesses which currently supports 650,000 Scots. It comes as Unite Scotland said it was involved in redundancy consultations affecting more than 1,000 jobs at Edinburgh Airport, Scotland’s biggest transport hub.


Meanwhile, requests for advice on redundancy have soared by 100 per cent since February, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said, with one in five employment queries now concerning redundancy.

But Boris Johnson insisted it was not “healthy” for either the economy or the employees concerned to maintain the scheme beyond its planned end date in October.

The scheme will start being scaled back from August with companies expected to pay a higher share of wages while the UK government continues to subsidise 60 percent of salaries up to cap of £2,500 a month.

But Ms Sturgeon called for an extension of Treasury Support stresing support was needed to address Scotland’s “economic crisis”.


Ms Sturgeon added: “I have previously welcomed the UK Government’s interventions, especially the furlough scheme which has helped to preserve jobs during this period.

“But in my view it is now time to signal a further extension of Treasury support.”

“The alternative to extended support being put in place is either that businesses are forced to reopen before it is safe to do so, and of course could damage health and it could cost lives, or businesses will have to take an even bigger hit and that will cost jobs.”

But Mr Johnson said: “I’ve got to be very, very blunt with you. We’ve spent £120 billion supporting people, it’s a huge commitment and we have put our arms around people.

“The best way forward for us now is to work together to beat the virus and get the economy back on its feet. We’re going to do amazing things; we’re going to build, build, build, invest massively in our country.

“But I think people need to recognise the particular restrictions that furlough places on you are not, in the long term, healthy either for the economy or for you as an employee.

“You are keeping people in suspended animation. You are stopping them from actually working. I am being absolutely frank with you, we are pushing it out until October but in the end you have got to get the economy moving.”

It comes after a new report produced by Nicola Sturgeon’s administration calls for the UK Government to produce an £80 billion UK-wide stimulus package to boost the coronavirus-hit economy and cut inequalities.

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It calls for a furlough scheme extension, or some other form of wage subsidy, for the hardest-hit sectors, indicating while the unemployment rate could still reach 10 percent in Scotland in 2020, it could have peaked at 14 percent without the furlough scheme.

It urges the government to use the cash, equivalent to 4 percent of GDP, to finance a range of actions, including cutting VAT to 15 percent for six months once lockdown ends, with a reduction to 5 percent for the hospitality sector.

Further recommendations in the Scottish Government report include cutting employers’ National Insurance contributions by 2p to reduce the cost of hiring staff.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes also requested for more financial powers from the Treasury last week.

The MSP said the government needs to borrow up to £500 million more to deal with the impact of coronavirus, as well as having greater flexibility over its capital budget.

She warns there was a £500million hole between the extra cost of the COVID-19 pandemic and the funding given to Scotland from Westminster.

Ms Forbes added: “This is one of the most significant economic crises of our generation and we desperately need the powers and the investment to reboot it.”

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Boris Johnson could hold Donald Trump-inspired briefings in new Downing Street shake-up

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The news updates will aim to provide the nation with information about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The current briefings are held off-camera for reporters and are hosted by a senior civil servant in the format of question-and-answer discussions.

The Prime Minister wants to improve the Governments’s coronavirus press briefings, which until recently were broadcast each day for millions of Britons.

Mr Johnson hopes the new format will “introduce a culture of transparency and openness”, the Times has reported.

The press briefings will take place in a suite in No 9 Downing Street.

It will be transformed into a media studio similar to the briefing room used by President Trump in the White House.

The new format will come into force in October, but No 10 will start searching for a broadcaster this month, as well as a production crew.

But the move could face backlash. Former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown attempted to introduce the same idea but did opposition from the media discouraged them.

Critics have said it could shorten the time for formulating questions as under the present system there is no time limit on the news conference.

An off-camera lady briefing will still take place in the morning, hosted by James Slack, a civil servant and the prime minister’s official spokesman.

READ MORE: Coronavirus update: New virus discovered with ‘disastrous’ potential

No 10 is also working on improving government communications, which will now be supervised from the Cabinet Office rather than individual departments.

The number of staff members working in communications will be cut down substantially as it currently stands at 4,000.

Whitehall divisions will be required to keep communications teams to a maximum of 30 staff members as outlined by Downing Street.

Four director-general level officials, the second-highest ranking in the civil service, will be selected to supervise government communications in order to facilitate the process.

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The officials will be based in the Cabinet Office and report to Simon Case, No 10’s new permanent secretary, and Lee Cain, the director of communications.

Alex Aiken, the executive director of government communications, has been in charge of creating the strategy for the new communications structure.

Mr Cain will also take over the recruitment process for the new broadcaster who will take part in the daily briefings.

Earlier this year No 10 sparked criticism when it transferred the daily press briefings from parliament to Downing Street.

The editors of every national newspaper signed a letter to Mr Johnson requesting him to reconsider the idea as it would “create barriers to covering democracy”.

No 10 has also looked for an official photographer, sparking further outrage.

The UK Picture Editors’ Guild, which represents newspapers and some agencies, has sent a letter to Downing Street advising that the move would result in press photographers being “excluded from historic moments”.

In February political journalists boycotted a Downing Street briefing in protest after reporters from certain titles were banned from attending.

Some of the journalists who walked out of the event included the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, ITV’s Robert Peston and the political editors of national newspapers.

As they arrived at Downing Street, journalists were told to queue up while a security officer ticked them off a list that detailed who had been banned from attending the briefing by the No 10 press office.

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Polis creates board to reconsider names of Colorado mountain peaks, other places

Amid a renewed public interest in removing symbols of racism, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis created a board Thursday to evaluate proposed name changes for geographic and public places across the state.

“This new board will play a critical role in the ongoing celebration of our Colorado history through place names and ensure that we have inclusivity and transparency around the naming process,” Polis said in a statement announcing the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board through an executive order.

“This bipartisan board will ensure that a broad spectrum of Coloradans, local communities and Colorado’s land-based Tribes can collaborate on any potential naming or renaming of Colorado geological points or landmarks.”

The board will be tasked with providing recommendations on name change proposals to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

Fourteen petitions are pending to rename locations in Colorado, including Mount Evans in Clear Creek County, Redskin Mountain in Jefferson County and Squaw Mountain in Clear Creek County, according to the federal board’s records.

Mount Evans was named after John Evans, a territorial governor who was forced to resign because of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. U.S. soldiers attacked and killed the Cheyenne and Arapahoe people in southeastern Colorado territory, even after they had tried to broker peace.

Redskin and squaw are both slurs used against Native Americans, with the latter being used to degrade women.

There also were requests to change names such as Negro Creek, Negro Draw and Negro Mesa in Delta and Montezuma counties, as well as Chinaman Gulch in Chaffee County.

And some also have objected to Kit Carson Mountain, named after the Colorado rancher who helped crush a Navajo uprising in the 1800s.

“The people whose names are on these places are people who really did some terrible things to Native people,” said Colorado historian Sam Bock of History Colorado. And for many tribes, these incidents weren’t in the distant past but affected family members in recent history.

Colorado historians have been working with 48 different tribes that lived in Colorado before they were driven out, most recently the Ute, Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes.

“Many of those geographic locations have been celebrations of European invasion and colonialism and sometimes Spanish invasion and colonialism,” said Glenn Morris of the American Indian Movement of Colorado, a Shawnee. Plus, all of these places had indigenous names with meanings for indigenous people, Morris said.

Eugene Black Bear Jr. of the Cheyenne Tribe in Oklahoma reflects on his own family’s history every time he hears names like that of Mount Evans. He had family members who were killed in the Sand Creek Massacre. His great-great grandmother survived and his family was pushed out to Oklahoma.

“It has a traumatic impact on our spiritual well-being,” he said of the Evans namesake. “This massacre that happened, it was tragic.”

Although this movement has been a “long time coming,” it was reignited after the latest Black Lives Matter protests and calls for removing statues from racist regimes, said Fred Mosqueda of the southern Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes. Mosqueda said he’s glad to see calls for name changes in his ancestral homeland.

But it’s about more than just a name for many Native Americans.

It’s about seeing Native Americans “not as savages or fiends or anything like that, but we’re actually humans,” Mosqueda said.

The heightened attention to names and the histories they represent has led to an increase in inquiries to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, said researcher Jennifer Runyon, but it has not yet increased the petition requests. They require a lot of work and discussion with tribes and other affected communities. They also have to include a suggestion for a new name that has been well-researched.

Colorado used to provide input to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for changes through a state advisory board before it was eliminated and the task fell to the Colorado State Archives. But since the archivist retired in 2016, the U.S. board has been waiting for a new person or group to be named to make recommendations. It didn’t happen until Thursday, leaving Colorado as one of only two states in the last four years without an entity to provide naming recommendations to the federal agency, Runyon said.

Although the federal board isn’t required to seek official state recommendations, its members prefer to hear from the states themselves. Colorado state officials asked the U.S. board to hold off on voting on any of the state’s name change requests until they had established a new board.

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Trump re-election bid picks up speed with NASCAR sponsorship

(Reuters) – United States president Donald Trump’s re-election bid will pick up speed this weekend with Trump 2020 the primary sponsor of Corey LaJoie’s car for NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Go Fas Racing announced on Wednesday it had entered into a partnership with Patriots of America PAC, a pro-Donald Trump Political Action Committee, for nine races, including the Cup Series race at the Brickyard.

“I am honored to be part of the President’s re-election campaign through the Patriots of America PAC,” said Go Fas team owner Archie St Hilaire.

“As a Trump 2020 supporter, this team will do everything possible to secure victory on and off the track electing President Donald Trump to a second term.

“Let us bring this country back and Keep America Great.”

LaJoie’s number 32 Ford Mustang will race with a red, white and blue livery and will have TRUMP 2020 decals on the hood and side panels.

In five seasons competing in NASCAR’s top series LaJoie is still chasing a first top-five finish and currently sits 28th in the Cup standings.

“With an estimated 75 million NASCAR fans out there, I was surprised that about 15 million of those fans are not registered voters,” said driver Corey LaJoie.

“I will give my best effort to get NASCAR fans registered to vote, through our team efforts on and off the track. When they see the car, hopefully it makes them race to the polls in November.”

Trump has courted the NASCAR vote and in February made an appearance as grand marshal at the Daytona 500 where he led a pace lap in his presidential limousine and gave the call for “Gentlemen, start your engines”.

Recently, however, Trump and NASCAR have been at opposite sides of the debate on Confederate symbols.

Last month NASCAR banned the Confederate flag, a symbol of oppression and slavery for many Americans, from all its races and events.

Trump, meanwhile, has ruled out renaming U.S. military bases that are named for Confederate leaders and demanded prison time for anyone caught vandalizing U.S. historical monuments.

Many statues and monuments targeted by crowds in recent weeks pay homage to the rebel Confederacy from the nation’s Civil War and are seen as tributes to those who perpetuated slavery.

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Boris urged to call EU’s bluff and quit Brexit talks -‘Should have walked away weeks ago!’

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This website asked readers if the Prime Minister should call the EU’s bluff and abandon post-Brexit negotiations after German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned progress had been “very limited” and called on the bloc to step up preparations for a no-deal scenario. A huge 97 percent of respondents said Mr Johnson should walk away from the talks while just three percent replied no.

Commenting on the poll, one reader said: “We should have walked away a long time ago!”

Another pleaded with the Prime Minister: “Please Boris walk away now and end it all with the EU.”

A third insisted: “We should have walked away weeks ago.

“Then we should have said, ‘These are the terms we will agree, they are not negotiable, come and talk if you accept them. Don’t waste our time trying to water these terms down.’ Had we done that we would be far further forward by now.”

Another fumed: “The reason it is not progressing is the EU want jurisdiction over our fishing grounds. They want jurisdiction over our laws and courts and they want to impose their rules on us. NONE of this is possible and so long as they try there will be no progress, DUH!!!”

A fifth said: “The EU never intends to reach a deal they want UK to surrender. Time for UK to say Ciao.”

Another wrote: “Should never have got to this stage in the first place. Over 4 years and here we still are!”

One more added: “Walk away Boris, the game is over for the EU, they knew all along that if we left the EU would collapse.”

Our poll comes after Mrs Merkel told the German parliament on Wednesday that progress in trade talks had been “very limited” and the EU must be ready for the possibility that “a deal doesn’t materialise”.

Germany has assumed the rotating EU Council presidency for the next six months giving Ms Merkel a key role in the final stage of the Brexit process.

In response to the German Chancellor’s comments, the UK said it wants to “work constructively” with the EU but insisted it is prepared to trade with Brussels without a formal agreement.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We believe that there is a free trade agreement to be reached but we have also been very clear that we will be prepared for either eventuality at the end of the year, whether that be a free trade agreement or having a trading relationship based on the same terms that Australia currently has.”

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The latest round of talks between Britain and the EU broke up early today with “significant differences” remaining between the two sides.

The negotiations, which have been taking place in Brussels this week with the teams meeting face-to-face for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak, had been due to continue to Friday.

Mr Johnson’s Europe adviser David Frost said that while meeting in person had given “extra depth and flexibility” to the discussions there was more to do.

Mr Frost added: “We have completed our discussion of the full range of issues in the negotiation in just over three days.

“The negotiations have been comprehensive and useful. But they have also underlined the significant differences that still remain between us on a number of important issues.”

His EU counterpart Michel Barnier said: “Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement.

“However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.” polled 8,699 people on July 2.

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Pofma correction directions issued to Peoples Voice party's Facebook page and Lim Tean's YouTube channel

SINGAPORE – A correction direction was issued on Thursday (July 2) by the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) Office to the Facebook page of the Peoples Voice (PV) party over a video containing a false statement about government spending on foreign students.

The Pofma Office also issued another correction direction to the YouTube channel Tean Lim of the party’s leader, Mr Lim Tean, where the video was also posted.

Mr Lim and PV are respectively the first candidate and political party contesting this year’s elections to receive a Pofma correction direction.

The directions were issued on the instruction of the alternate authority for the Minister for Education.

In the video, Mr Lim said: “We spend a quarter of a billion dollars providing free education for foreigners every year.”

The Government said on its fact-checking website, Factually: “This is false and misleading. The Ministry of Education (MOE) does not spend a quarter of a billion dollars to provide free education for foreigners every year.

“While MOE (Education Ministry) spends about $238 million on foreign students a year as stated in a parliamentary reply on 5 August 2019, the significant majority of these students are still required to pay fees higher than those of local students and/or fulfil a bond obligation after graduation.” 

This is the second time to date that correction directions were issued by an alternate authority for a minister.

The first was on Monday, when correction directions were issued over false statements about cross-border travel arrangements between Singapore and Malaysia which appeared on two Facebook pages.

When asked about the correction direction on Thursday night, Mr Lim said: “I feel that this is another intimidation tactic… to try to intimidate the opposition, especially during this important period of elections.”

He added that the issue is a “distraction”.

As of Thursday night, a correction notice on the false statement had been posted in the description of the video on both the Facebook page and the YouTube channel.

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