Going to jail in Singapore for fake news about coronavirus

During the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of fake news about the pandemic appeared online, and while in some countries you can publish it with impunity, in others you should face consequences.

There’s no denying that the coronavirus pandemic has even caused a rash of speculation and false information, and one of the most famous is probably the one suggesting that 5G network infrastructure is responsible for SARS-CoV-2, which has contributed to the torching of mobile network masts in various countries, including Poland. It’s worth noting, however, that most people spreading such fake news don’t have to fear consequences other than deleting their posts or accounts from social media and YouTube, unless they live in Singapore, because here the rules are definitely different.

This was demonstrated, for example, by 40-year-old cab driver Kenneth Lai Yong Hui, who made a post on a private Facebook group with 7500 members with false information about grocery store closures due to Covid-19, urging people to stock up. Although he quickly deleted his post, literally after 15 minutes, the prosecutor was adamant and requested a prison sentence to discourage others from similar practices. Especially since there have been several panic attacks in Singapore during the 4-month battle against coronavirus, so the justice system is not too kind to those causing them with false information.

– The psychological struggle to calm fear and hysteria is just as important as fighting the spread of Covid-19, according to prosecutor Deborah Lee, who handled the case. Hence the sentence of four months’ imprisonment, which is quite lenient anyway, since Singaporean law stipulates a maximum penalty of USD 7,000 for spreading disinformation or imprisonment for up to three years, or both. What does the person concerned say about all this? Kenneth Lai Yong Hui defended himself, but unfortunately we were unable to obtain any comment from him after the verdict.

Police records show that on April 20, a complaint was filed against a post by a man who suggested that due to the coronavirus pandemic, grocery stores, cafes and supermarkets will be open only two days a week, so it is better to stock up for the next month. What did he hope to gain by doing this? Maybe more trips in his cab, but in all seriousness he probably treated the whole thing as a stupid joke, but the situation quickly became very serious. This was to be expected, however, as some time ago a man who broke quarantine to buy bread cakes had to pay a $1,000 fine, and another disobeying an order to sit at home because he was thirsty for soup was jailed for 6 weeks.

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