Ong Ye Kung issues POFMA order on video of travellers from S Asia to S'pore on 5 May

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SINGAPORE — Outgoing Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday (7 May) instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) office to issue a correction direction in response to a video circulating online purportedly showing a large group of travellers arriving from South Asia at Changi Airport this week.

The direction has been issued to the "Singapore Incidents" social media pages on Facebook and Instagram, which had posted the footage, said the Ministry of Transport (MOT) in a statement.

This means that the pages will be required to carry a correction notice across both social media pages, stating that the posts contain falsehoods.

These videos, posted on Wednesday, contained a watermark stating the date of the video as 5 May and the location as Changi Airport. A clock in the video stated the time as 2.53pm.

The MOT said that there were no flights from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka arriving at any terminal in Changi Airport between 8am and 3.30pm on Wednesday.

The ministry added that passengers were seen walking past a renovation hoarding at gate hold rooms D42/43 in Terminal 1 that was removed on 5 April. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) made the same point about the video on Thursday, urging members of the public to rely on official information.

With effect from 11.59pm on 23 April, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to India are not allowed entry into or transit through Singapore, due to a surge in COVID-19 cases there.

The same border control measure has been extended to travellers with recent travel history to Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan,and Sri Lanka with effect from 11.59pm on 1 May.

"While there are still passenger flights arriving in Singapore from South Asia, these flights carry primarily returning Singapore citizens and permanent residents, cargo, or fly in empty to pick up passengers in Singapore who are returning to South Asia," said the MOT.

For example, on Thursday, the ministry added, there were five passenger flights arriving in Singapore from South Asia, carrying a total of 50 passengers, all of whom were returning Singaporeans or PRs.

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The MOT said that all passengers arriving on these flights from these countries are currently subject to stringent border control and health measures. They are escorted through the Changi Airport, separate from other passengers arriving from other countries.

"We are aware of other similar videos spreading on social media. We urge members of the public not to spread unverified information and to rely on information from trusted official websites and social media pages," added the ministry.

The Singapore Incidents Facebook page on Thursday issued an apology following the statement by the CAAS.

"We would like to apologise to our viewers regarding the wrong date on the video and it is our fault for not validating the actual time and date of the video," it said. "Overall, we deeply regretted that we gave false information on the date of the video."

It added that it had reposted the footage that was published on two personal Facebook accounts.

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Ong Ye Kung issues POFMA order on video of travellers from S Asia to S'pore on 5 May