| 27 May 2024, Monday |

Singapore’s main opposition party seeks changes to foreign interference law

After experts and rights groups raised concerns about the law’s sweeping provisions, Singapore’s major opposition, The Workers’ Party, has called for revisions to a proposed foreign interference law, citing a need for more openness.

The government proposed legislation earlier this month to combat foreign meddling, which includes requiring businesses like the internet, social media service providers, and website owners to reveal user information, prohibit content, and remove applications.

“While The Workers’ Party believes in the legitimate need to combat harmful acts of foreign intervention, we disagree with the existing structure of the Bill in attaining the abovementioned purpose,” the party said late Wednesday in a statement.

Singapore, a small, open city-state, claims it is vulnerable to foreign interference. However, some academics and rights groups have expressed worry about the draft law’s extensive provisions and court review limitations.

According to the Workers’ Party, the proposed modifications will result in judicial scrutiny of executive activity and a more exact scoping of executive authorities, reducing the probability of abuse of authority.

The proposed changes will provide: “Greater clarity and transparency on the identities of the entities and individuals against whom, and reasons for which, any directive, order or decision under this Bill is made.”

The ministry of home affairs has said the law would not apply to Singaporeans expressing political views, unless they were agents of a foreign entity.

Neither would it apply to foreign individuals or foreign publications “reporting or commenting on Singapore politics, in an open, transparent and attributable way”, even if critical of Singapore or its government.

The ministry said on Wednesday the proposals by The Workers’ Party would be discussed in parliament next week.

The legislation is likely to be passed due to the ruling People’s Action Party’s parliamentary majority.

  • Reuters