Leong Mun Wai issued POFMA order – blames couple for not giving ‘full picture’

Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) secretary-general Leong Mun Wai has been issued a correction order under the the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) for false statements he made on Facebook and Instagram published on Feb 12, 2024.

Malaysian-operated site The Online Citizen and Gutzy Asia were also handed Correction Directions for republishing Leong’s posts on their social media platforms or website.

The allegations

Leong claimed in his post on Feb 12 that a couple did not receive any form of financial assistance from the public sector agencies concerning their daily expenses other than a Home Caregiving Grant.

The couple, who live in West Coast, have trouble getting around. The man, 60, lost his sight from glaucoma several years ago, and his wife, 55, broke her ankle in a fall in 2023.

Leong’s post falsely said that the couple had applied to a public sector agency for assistance with their transport costs, but their application was rejected.

Leong also had wrongfully stated that the woman had used up most of the funds in her MediSave Account to pay for an operation on her leg and stopped attending physiotherapy sessions because she had to pay the hospital S$100 for each session.

The actual facts

According to the Ministry of Family and Social Development (MSF), the couple currently receives financial assistance for their daily expenses from various public sector agencies and community partners.

Financial assistance for daily expenses

  • The couple also receives financial assistance each month from various government agencies, with approximately $39,000 in cash and vouchers paid to the couple since 2021.

Heavily subsidised hospital bills

  • The woman claimed she had to pay $100 to the hospital for each physiotherapy session. In truth, the fees were around $25 per session after government subsidies, and full covered by MediFund, which she did not have to pay cash out-of-pocket.

Transport costs subsidies

  • The man has been receiving subsidised medical escort and transport services from community care providers since 2021. This is despite the couple claiming their request for assistance from a government agency had been rejected. When the woman fractured her ankle, the Silver Generation Office (SGO) offered to refer her to subsidised medical escort and transport services, but she had declined the offer.

Additional assistance

  • The couple currently have more than $100,000 in total in both their CPF Retirement Accounts. The woman was entitled to and did withdraw $5,000 from her CPF account in April 2023.
  • The man has been receiving the HCG since November 2022. Since March 2023, the HCG provides him with $400 each month.
  • The couple also receive non-financial support. An officer from the People’s Association also visits the couple regularly, and has ferried them for hospital visits, bought meals for them when they could not leave the house and helped them run other errands.
  • They receive a total of around S$830 a month in cash and vouchers, including a monthly payout of S$300 cash from a temple.

Leong: Did not get the full picture

Leong published a correction notice today (16 Feb) and claims he did not get the full facts of the case. It is not clear if it was the couple that hid the fact or that Leong deliberately misquoted the couple.

Leong has been consistent in publishing falsehoods without fact-checking

In January 2023, Leong claimed that he received feedback from residents, “that some teachers have already practised vaccination differentiated safe management measures in schools” – but he later back-pedalled and admitted he could not substantiate his allegation.

In the same month last year, Leong made misleading statements about the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) and the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS). The government shot back with numbers that proved otherwise.

In August 2022, Leong asked repeatedly asked Minister Edwin Tong about the projected payment of S$1.5 billion for Singapore Sports Hub but was again shut down by Edwin for getting his calculations wrong despite Edwin’s repeated explanations.

Indranee who was Leader of the House at the time then interjected: “Mr Edwin Tong had answered the questions. I think the fact that Mr Leong doesn’t understand the answer doesn’t mean that the question has not been answered.”

Leong’s false statements “erode public trust”, misleading: MSF

MSF said that the false statements made in Leong’s posts “erode public trust” and “misled the public about the support that is available and provided to families who are in need”.

MSF emphasised that the ministry and other government agencies “are committed to continuing their support for families who are in need”.

Indranee said of Leong in 2023: “A charitable view is that Mr Leong genuinely does not understand the expenditure figures or the rationale that has been explained… And if he does understand them, then there is only one other conclusion — which is that this can only be a deliberate and cynical attempt to stoke anxiety and disquiet, confuse Singaporeans and damage the Government.”

What do you think?

1.5k Points
Upvote Downvote

Parliamentary debate on the use of reserves – The Opposition says: “Spend more!” But at what cost for Singapore?

The rise of the Opportunist Activists where self-victimisation is more important than Palestine