Why is IMDA dragging its feet in dealing with TOC?

Sep 07, 2021 | πŸš€ Fathership

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has asked the local website The Online Citizen (TOC) to "explain its non-compliance" after it repeatedly failed" to declare all its funding sources.

IMDA said in a statement issued today (Sep 7) that they "may take appropriate enforcement action" for non-compliance.

A recalcitrant Terry Xu who is also the chief editor of TOC has responded on his Facebook that he intends to not comply with the requirements by IMDA.

What IMDA wants

According to IMDA, TOC has "repeatedly failed" to declare all its funding sources for its annual declaration since 2019, despite "multiple reminders and extensions", the regulator said.

TOC previously complied when it first registered in 2018.

TOC "failed to verify (the identity of a) donor and to clarify discrepancies in its foreign advertising revenue" in its 2019 declaration, said IMDA, adding that it issued a warning for this in May this year.

TOC had initially refused to disclose the identity of two anonymous donors.

What TOC's Terry Xu said

According to Terry, TOC already gave the identity of one of the donors but withheld information on the other anonymous donor, preferring to donate the money instead.

Terry has so far refused to explain why he is withholding information on the second donor.

On "discrepancies in its foreign advertising revenue", Terry said it was "just a mistake" in the figures submitted.

Terry also said that TOC is not complying with IMDA because of the authority's "unjustified attempt to scrutinise how TOC conducts its business."

IMDA had asked TOC to justify the subscription fees it was charging, from which it collected about $9,200 in annual income for the year, after it found that there were no discerning benefits between subscribers who paid a lower fee and those subscribing on a higher tier.

Pictured: Request by IMDA on TOC's subscription model

In response, Terry said he wants IMDA to exempt its subscription model from the declaration.

"TOC had offered to fill in the declaration if the subscription portion could be exempted from the declaration, (but) IMDA rejected the proposal," Terry said.

When will IMDA's patience run out with TOC?

The authorities have so far refrained from shutting down The Online Citizen over its non-compliance since 2019 despite having the opportunity to do.

Terry Xu emboldened by easy cash from the public to pay for his trangressions have shown no signs of backing down.

S'pore firm develops first Omicron-specific testing kit

Dec 06, 2021 | πŸš€ Fathership
Home-grown biotechnology firm BioAcumen Global has launched Singapore's first Omicron-specific Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kit.

This means that a person taking the test will receive one of three results: Covid-19 positive and Omicron positive; Covid-19 positive and Omicron negative; or Covid-19 and Omicron negative.

Currently, PCR kits here that are capable of detecting Omicron require an additional gene sequencing step to confirm the specific variant. This takes an additional day.

Some PCR kits, such as those currently in use by medical technology firm Acumen Diagnostics and biotech firm MiRXES, are able to detect both the Delta and the Omicron strains, but to confirm if a positive case has been infected by Omicron, gene sequencing is necessary.

Mr Jimmy Toh, director of BioAcumen Global, said: "We are looking at ways to cut down the steps and time needed to run this test. This is crucial, especially at the borders where accurate tests need to be done on-site. There is no time to wait on sequencing results to know if a positive sample is infected with Omicron."

Mass production of the kit has begun, and the BioAcumen Global team hopes this kit will provide much needed help locally and in the region for the surveillance and control of this new variant, Mr Toh said.