Malaysian rights group sues Singapore minister over 'fake news' directive

PETALING JAYA (Jan 28): Malaysian rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) sued Singapore’s Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam on Friday for invoking the city-state’s anti-fake news law over a statement it made regarding the method of execution for the death penalty, Reuters reported on Friday.

LFL filed the originating summons at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to challenge Shanmugam's order to modify an article on its blog.

The article published on Jan 16 quoted an unidentified Singapore prison officer alleging that authorities gave instructions to snap prisoners' necks by kicking them in the event of a rope breaking during hangings.

According to Reuters, Singapore's home affairs ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shanmugam on Wednesday denied the accusations as "untrue, baseless and preposterous" and ordered the group and several websites to attach "fake news" notices to posts and articles carrying them.

Singapore blocked access to LFL's website on Thursday after it refused to comply with the directive.

Yahoo Singapore posted the correction notice on its Facebook page, adding that it was legally required to do so by the government's order.

The Singapore "fake news" law, seen as one of the most far-reaching measures of its kind, took effect in October amid concern among rights groups and opposition politicians that it could be used to silence government criticism.

The government has denied such suggestions, saying the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act only targets falsehoods and legitimate criticism and free speech would not be affected.

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