SingaporeTOC's appeal against POFMA over alleged Police bullying dismissed by High Court

TOC’s appeal against POFMA over alleged Police bullying dismissed by High Court

A High Court judge has dismissed The Online Citizen’s (TOC) appeal against a correction direction issued to it under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) last year.

TOC shared an Instagram Story on social media in May last year, alleging that an elderly woman who was not wearing a mask was bullied by police officers. The police later clarified that this was not the case.

TOC, along with the Singapore Uncensored website and the user who originally posted the Instagram story, were required to post a correction notice.

In response to TOC’s appeal to revoke the correction order, the judge said that because the alternative news’s website and social media accounts were completely offline during the appeal period, the appeal was moot. Even if the appeal is successful, they cannot show or withdraw the correction notice.

On 14 September 2021, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) suspended TOC’s broadcasting class license over a dispute over reports on funding sources and would cancel TOC’s licence if the information request was not met by 28 September.

TOC was also required not to published any new articles beyond 16 September 2021, 3pm.Terry Xu, the chief editor of TOC, instead took the site offline on the morning of 16 September 2021.  The license was cancelled on 15 October 2021. On 16 December 2021, TOC’s judicial review application, challenging the orders by IMDA, was dismissed by the High Court.

Lim Tean, the lawyer representing TOC, said his client was seeking an appeal on a matter of principle.

Earlier, Home Affairs Minister Shanmugam also rejected an application by TOC to withdraw the correction instruction.

TOC was founded in December 2006 by Andrew Loh and Remy Choo Zheng Xi, and is now defunct. The community blogging platform formerly was involved in political activism in Singapore. It described itself as a group of advocacy journalists who report on topics not generally covered by the mainstream media.

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