MCI response to PQ on Raising Public Awareness and Countering Misinformation
Parliament Sitting on 4 April 2022
QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
57. Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) what is being done to increase public education and enhance awareness of Singapore’s national interests with regard to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and Singapore’s relations with the US and China; and (b) whether the Ministry has considered (i) pushing out factual information on the situation through messaging apps and social media and (ii) providing information about independent fact-checking websites which the public can use to counter misinformation.
The Member asked what is being done to increase public awareness and understanding of Singapore’s national interest in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. He also asked what we are doing to put out accurate information on the conflict.
First, understanding Singapore’s position on the conflict: The Government has taken a strong and unambiguous position, starting with the ministerial statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in February. Government agencies and their community partners have explained this position on a wide range of platforms – not only on social media and messaging platforms, but also in print and broadcast media, as well as directly to schools, business associations, grassroots organisations, to youth and public officers, national servicemen, as well as the general public. It is of the utmost importance that Singaporeans know the national position, the principles at stake for Singapore, why the Government has taken certain actions as a result, and why our position has nothing to do with taking sides.
Most Singaporeans understand, and agree. A publicly available poll conducted by Blackbox Research found last month that 95 per cent of Singaporeans supported or sympathised with Ukraine. Almost 70 per cent blamed Russia for the conflict; 60 per cent supported Singapore’s sanctions on Russia; while 35 per cent said they were unsure or had no opinion.
We accept that there are some differences in views and opinions among Singaporeans. That is understandable in any country. The Government will continue to communicate our position clearly as the situation develops, and counter whatever misinformation there might be about our position.
But as for pushing out factual information on the conflict itself, this cannot be the Singapore Government’s responsibility. We are in no position to independently verify the truth or otherwise of every report, image, photograph, video or post emanating from or on Ukraine. For the most part, we are dependent on the international media, including our own, to vet this avalanche of information. The National Library Board has published a set of third-party fact-checking resources about the conflict on its website. We urge all Singaporeans to exercise caution and apply a critical eye to all that they read and view on the conflict.