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Selasa, 05 Oktober 2021

Singapore passes law to tackle foreign interference, raising concerns about future of independent reporting - ABC News

Singapore's Parliament has approved a law that gives broad powers to the government to deal with foreign interference, but it has sparked concern from the opposition and experts about its wide scope and limits on judicial review.

The small and open city-state, which says it is vulnerable to foreign meddling, targeted fake news with a far-reaching law in 2019.

It joins nations such as Australia and Russia in passing laws in recent years to deter foreign interference.

The bill, formally known as the Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act (FICA), was passed late on Monday.

Seventy-five members voted in favour of it, with 11 opposition members objecting and two abstaining, local media reported.

Beijing computer user
Overseas bloggers could be more closely scrutinised under the new law.(

Reuters

)

Among the measures, FICA allows authorities to compel internet, social media service providers and website operators to provide user information, block content and remove applications.

People deemed "politically significant persons" under the law will have to comply with strict rules relating to donations and declare their links to foreign entities.

Instead of a court, an independent tribunal chaired by a judge, will hear appeals against the minister's decisions.

It is a move the government says is necessary to protect national security, with the tribunal's decisions final.

Lee Hsien Loong (C) celebrates with supporters after the general election results
Lee Hsien Loong, seen here celebrating election victory in 2015, has been Singapore's Prime Minister since 2004.(

Reuters: Edgar Su

)

The government said FICA did not cover the building of overseas partnerships, soliciting overseas businesses, networking with foreigners, sourcing for donations or those discussing policies.

"As long as they are done in an open and transparent manner, and not part of an attempt to manipulate our political discourse or undermine public interest such as security," K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs, said in Parliament.

Office workers wearing protective face masks walk in Singapore's central business district.
The bill's critics are worried it could supress free speech across Singapore.(

Reuters: Edgar Su

)

It will also not affect Singaporeans expressing their own views or engaging in advocacy.

The home affairs ministry has also previously said the law would not apply to foreign individuals or publications "reporting or commenting on Singapore politics in an open, transparent and attributable way".

But some critics say its broad language risks capturing even legitimate activities, while rights group Reporters Without Borders says the law could ensnare independent media outlets.

Experts and Singapore's opposition parties have called for the scope of executive powers to be narrowed and for more oversight through the judiciary.

Mr Shanmugam said the bill represented the "best balance … between dealing with the risks and providing checks against abuse".

Reuters/ABC

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https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMicWh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmFiYy5uZXQuYXUvbmV3cy8yMDIxLTEwLTA1L3NpbmdhcG9yZS1wYXJsaWFtZW50LWFwcHJvdmVzLWxhdy10by10YWNrbGUtZm9yZWlnbi1pbnRlcmZlcmVuY2UvMTAwNTE2MTE20gEoaHR0cHM6Ly9hbXAuYWJjLm5ldC5hdS9hcnRpY2xlLzEwMDUxNjExNg?oc=5

2021-10-05 08:56:06Z
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