Select Committee on ‘fake news’ includes six MPs with legal background

Select Committee on ‘fake news’ includes six MPs with legal background

Mothership.SG·2018-01-12 02:10

On Jan. 10, Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam made a motion in Parliament to form a Select Committee to study the problem of “deliberate online falsehoods” aka fake news. It was unanimously passed.

S’pore is at high risk of fake news, Select Committee will study the problem in-depth and consult widely

The Committee of people who select committees

Then it was up to the Committee of Selection.

Despite the confusingly similar-sounding name, .

It’s chaired by the Speaker of Parliament, and you can see who’s on it below.

Source: Parliament website

The Select Committee has been selected


Deputy Speaker Charles Chong (Chairman)

Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam

Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and for Education Janil Puthucheary

Workers’ Party MP Pritam Singh

MP Rahayu Mahzam

MP Seah Kian Peng

MP Sun Xueling

MP Edwin Tong

NMP Chia Yong Yong

The composition of the Select Committee reflects the balance between the Government and Opposition benches in Parliament. NMPs do not sit on Select Committees unless Parliament specifically provides for them to do so.

But what do each of these MPs bring to the table?

Charles Chong, 64

The veteran MP and Deputy Speaker of Parliament has been picked to chair the Select Committee.

As one of the longest-serving MPs, Chong’s chairmanship is arguably an indicator of how seriously the government is viewing the issue.

K. Shanmugam, 58

As the Minister who proposed the motion in the first place, Shanmugam is a natural choice for the Committee.

His two portfolios, Home Affairs and Law, are also closely related to the issue of “fake news.”

Desmond Lee, 42

Lee, who has a law degree, has handled a wide range of responsibilities, considering his relatively young age, with stints in National Development, Home Affairs, PMO and now as the Minister for Social and Family Development.

He is for the bicentennial commemoration in 2019.

His involvement in the high-profile committee will add another area of responsibility to that list.

He was among the sixteen 4G leaders who issued .

Janil Puthucheary, 45

As an up and coming Senior Minister of State, Janil was also among the 16 4G leaders who signed the statement on leadership succession.

His portfolios, like Shanmugam’s, also directly relate to the ‘fake news’ issue.

, public education is our first defence against fake news.

Pritam Singh, 41

Pritam is the sole Workers’ Party representative on the committee.

He was named Assistant Secretary-General in Jun. 2016 (a post that had been vacant since 2006), and is seen as the front-runner to .

His participation on the committee will give him a chance to gain experience and raise his own profile as a younger leader of the biggest opposition party in Singapore.

He has spoken publicly on the issue before, including in Parliament.

Rahayu Mahzam, 37

The first-time MP also has a legal background. During the Jan. 10 sitting of Parliament, , citing the recent case of a scam message that supposedly gave away FairPrice gift cards.

Seah Kian Peng, 55

Seah happens to be the chief executive of FairPrice, and .

In 2007, a fake picture of “halal pork” allegedly being sold in FairPrice stores went viral. Said Seah:

“Even today, 10 years later, I still get messages asking me about this… Indeed, a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth gets out.”

Sun Xueling, 38

Sun also shared a personal encounter with fake news in her Parliament speech, and .

Edwin Tong, 47

Edwin Tong MP is also a lawyer. You can read more about him in this 2015 interview we did.

PAP Marine Parade GRC candidate Edwin Tong tells us about being Kong Hee’s lawyer, being uprooted & more

Chia Yong Yong, 55

Chia is the sole independent on the Committee, as the only NMP there. She also has a legal background.

By the numbers

Going by the numbers, the Select Committee looks fairly diverse and balanced. Out of the 10, there are:

3 Ministers or Senior Ministers of State

4 minorities

3 women

2 non-PAP MPs

6 members who have legal background

Which should give it a wide range of experiences and backgrounds.

With reports that the Committee plans to “consult widely”, there should be more information on the Committee’s deliberations in the coming months.

All pics and top image from


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