Why Singaporeans are confused over POHA, MINDEF and Harassment Law

So we are clearer on this things and know that the Government cannot suka-suka POHA people.


  • MobileStats had sued the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) in 2011 for infringing its patent for a mobile emergency medical station
  • TOC published an interview with Dr Ting, in which he made various allegations against Mindef – that it had knowingly infringed his patent and that it had dragged out court proceedings to wear him down financially
  • Mindef issued a clarification. Mindef not happy that the untrue statement was still deliberately available online.
  • Invokes POHA to get them to bring down the article (partly also there are no acts to govern ‘fake news’ yet.


  • MINDEF (via AG) Argued that the objective of the provision was to deal with false statements and not merely harassment, so the Government and corporate entities have the right to invoke the law.
  • Court ruled that 1) MINDEF cannot invoke the Act because it is not a person (they debated this at length. Not important)
  • Additionally, Mindef was anything but a helpless victim. It is a government agency possessed of significant resources and access to media channels.”

Article on TOC stays. MINDEF can effectively go and fly kite.

Workers Party:

They worry Min Shan might ‘chut pattern more than badminton’ now that there is a ‘loophole’ for POHA – warns against amending the POHA to protect the gov from harassment

Min Law:

Had enough of the circus. Clarified that the gov do not need to be protected from Harassment

POHA provides statutory remedies for two distinct type of wrongs

  • Harassment;
  • False Statements


Problem 1:

We think part of the problem lies with the title of the Act.  POHA – is read by the layman as anti-harassment act. That’s why people were shocked when MINDEF invoked POHA against an individual. The False statement part did not come out as strongly when reported in the news.

Problem 2:

The verdict shows that the government has no protection against ‘fake news’. So how do they deal with ‘Fake News’ without being too high-handed? Where does the law stand on ‘Fake News’?

Problem 3:

What the hell are fake news? Are news reported by the broadsheets a form of ‘Fake News?’ since people often complain that the headlines are biased and misleading?. How can we educate people to read and discern better on the Internet?



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