Yahoo Singapore and a Singaporean journalist have complied with a government order to retract stories on brutal executions of death row inmates at Changi Prison and publish notices of correction as ordered by the government.
Yahoo and reporter Kirsten Han submitted to the order invoked yesterday under the “fake news” law that also demanded the same of The Online Citizen news site and the Malaysian legal rights group that published the original report. The ministry called the allegations made in the report by Lawyers for Liberty “untrue, baseless and preposterous.”
While the Online Citizen said yesterday it would appeal the order, Yahoo Singapore complied, saying it “would not shy away from that responsibility.”
“People around the world rely on Yahoo as a credible and trusted news provider and we will not shy away from that responsibility. We are a trusted platform and media brand, and believe strongly in unbiased reporting and credible news coverage,” it told Coconuts Singapore through an unidentified spokesperson for owner Verizon Media hours after the notice was published.
Singaporean journalist Kirsten Han, the chief editor of New Naratif, published her correction yesterday with a note calling on the authorities to be more forthcoming to the public.
“In the interests of dealing with ‘fake news,’ I hope that government and public agencies can be more responsive to queries from journalists and/or civil society groups when they are seeking information that can clarify matters,” she wrote, one day after inking an op-ed on Singapore’s so-called fake news law in the New York Times.
Han had posted the rights group’s original statement detailing its report to her Facebook page at the same time she was seeking a response on its substance from the Singapore Prison Service.
Lawyers for Liberty, which is in Malaysia, said it would not back down.
The group said yesterday it would “absolutely stand by” its report, adding that it has evidence supporting its assertions that “brutal” executions have been carried out at the Singapore prison. The group also criticized the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, or POFMA, as “oppressive and undemocratic.”
Among the charges made by the group, it said an anonymous prison executioner acting as a whistleblower recounted instances of prison officials using their feet to kick the back of the prisoner’s neck in the event the rope breaks.
Singapore’s home affairs denied this, saying the ropes used on its gallows for hangings had “never broken.”
“Any acts such as those described in the [group’s] statement would have been thoroughly investigated and dealt with,” the ministry said yesterday.
Singapore’s capital punishment is a concern in Malaysia, as a number of its citizens convicted of drug trafficking have been sent to the gallows in the city-state. Among them was 36-year-old Abdul Helmi Abdul Halim, who was hanged in November.