MDA suspends licence of socio-political website The Real Singapore
Todayonline, Published: 3:13 PM, May 3, 2015, By Valerie Koh
SINGAPORE — In an unprecedented move, socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS), known for posting articles with a xenophobic slant, has been ordered to stop posting articles on their website and social media platforms with immediate effect, and to cease operations by 8pm today (May 3).
The Media Development Authority (MDA) said today it has suspended the statutory class licence of the couple helming the site — Singaporean Yang Kaiheng, 26, and his Australian girlfriend Ai Takagi, 22 — to operate TRS, as both = have contravened the Internet Code of Practice under the Broadcasting Act. They will not be allowed to resume operations under any other name. The website must be taken down and the public must not be able to access their content, or post anything on their social media platforms.
TRS, the authority said, has deliberately fabricated articles and falsely attributed them to innocent parties. They have also plagiarised articles and edited them to be more sensational. In doing so, TRS was seeking to profit at the expense of public interest and national harmony, the MDA added.
The couple helming the site were charged in court last month with seven counts of sedition. In one charge, the duo was accused of publishing an article alleging that a Filipino family’s complaint had led to a dispute between the police and Thaipusam participants.
Previously, the couple was out of the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Act, as operations were located outside Singapore. Since December, both have been operating from Singapore, bringing them under the reach of the act.
They have up to seven days from today to provide information relating to TRS’ operations and to make representations as to why their licence should not be cancelled, failing which the MDA can ban the website. They can take legal action against the couple if they break rules under the act Broadcasting Act.
Flouting the Broadcasting Act can result in a fine of up to S$200,000, a jail term of up to three years, or both.
MDA orders The Real Singapore admins to disable access to online properties
SINGAPORE: The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) on Sunday (May 3) ordered The Real Singapore (TRS) to immediately stop posting articles and disable access to its website and social media accounts within six hours.
The MDA said it has suspended the statutory class licence for Ai Takagi and Yang Kaiheng to operate the website www.therealsingapore.com and other related computer online services such as its Facebook Page, Twitter account and mobile applications.
“The MDA is satisfied that Ai and Yang have contravened the Internet Code of Practice. They have published prohibited material as defined by the Code to be objectionable on the grounds of public interest, public order and national harmony,” it said in its press release.
“The MDA has noted that TRS has deliberately fabricated articles and falsely attributed them to innocent parties. TRS has also inserted falsehoods in articles that were either plagiarised from local news sources or sent in by contributors so as to make the articles more inflammatory.”
At least two out of TRS’ three known editors are believed to be foreigners: Ai is Australian, while another editor, Melanie Tan, is believed to be Malaysian. “The foreign editors were responsible for several articles that sought to incite anti-foreigner sentiments in Singapore,” MDA said.
“The MDA believes this editorial strategy of deceiving readers and doctoring articles was an attempt to increase traffic to TRS, and thus boost advertising revenue. In so doing, TRS, including its two foreign editors, were seeking to profit at the expense of Singapore’s public interest and national harmony,” it added.
The MDA has notified Ai and Yang to immediately stop posting any more articles on TRS and related services, and within six hours, disable access to their website and related computer online services.
“Thereafter, they are not to resume operations under any other name. They have also been given seven days to provide information relating to TRS’ operations and to make representations as to why their class licence should not be cancelled”.
REFUSAL TO COMPLY
TRS describes itself as a “user generated content site for all Singaporeans to express themselves freely and without any form of censorship”. The couple behind it, Yang, a 26-year-old Singaporean, and 24-year-old Ai have been charged with seven counts of sedition. This is for articles that have “tendency to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different groups of people in Singapore”.
The MDA noted that Ai and Yang have been charged with seven counts of publishing seditious articles on TRS and TRS Facebook page. Additionally, they been charged with refusing to comply with written orders to produce documents considered by the police investigator to be necessary for the investigation.
“They have also refused to disclose how much advertising revenue they have been collecting,” the regulator said. “Further, TRS has continued to publish material that contravenes the ICOP even after Ai and Yang were charged.”
TRS states that its website is hosted in Sweden, USA and Switzerland. MDA said previously, Ai and Yang were “out of the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Act as they were running their operations outside Singapore”. However, since December, the two have been running their operations from Singapore, bringing them within the jurisdiction of the Act, MDA said.