Singapore’s fake news debate wrapped in 1MDB controversy

On November 5, the Australia-based website States Times Review (STR) published an article entitled “Lee Hsien Loong becomes 1MDB’s key investigation target”, an eye-catching headline that appeared to implicate Singapore’s national leader in financial fraud.

That is, the article alleged that it wasn’t just former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak who was reputedly involved in the multi-billion dollar scandal at the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund, but also Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Moreover, the article claimed that Malaysia had signed various unequal deals that favored Singapore—including a water export deal supposedly lower than market prices—in exchange for Singaporean banks to launder pilfered 1MDB funds.

The article, strongly denied by government officials as false, has become the latest case study in the rising debate over anti-fake news legislation in the already tightly censored city-state.

STR’s story, which was republished by Malaysian website The Coverage and circulated on social

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