PUBLISHED SEP 28, 2021, 5:00 AM SGT – https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/anti-foreign-interference-bill-3-areas-of-concern
The Fica Bill as currently drafted is problematic because of its extremely broad language, restrictions on judicial review and questionable procedural rules.
The Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill (Fica) was recently introduced in Parliament. It seeks to reduce the risk of acts of foreign interference by strengthening the Government’s ability to prevent, detect and disrupt such interference.
The Bill creates new offences which target clandestine online activity. It also imposes substantial financial reporting obligations on politically significant persons, as well as obligations on parties providing social media services and online content.
Foreign interference is a matter of growing concern, especially for small states, in a fast-changing geopolitical context where significant players are seeking to strengthen their reach and carve out spheres of influence. Any responsible government needs to be adequately equipped to protect the public interest by counteracting such acts of foreign interference.
The challenge is to craft balanced legislation that effectively addresses undesirable foreign influence while not curtailing legitimate citizen-led activity. Here are three aspects of the Bill which give cause for grave concern.
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