Wednesday, 22 May 2019

K Shanmugam to ‘Ah Lian’: POFMA is like a Torchlight

To let people know what is true and what is not true
YouTube screengrab/ Ah Lian VLOG #19: Premium Lian Meets Minister K Shanmugam

The day before the second reading of Singapore’s landmark, if somewhat contentious anti-fake news bill, K Shanmugan sat down with ‘Ah Lian’ to clarify some of the main points of POFMA, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill.

In an informal and humorous setting, the country’s Law and Home Affairs minister talked about the bill with actress Michelle Chong, who was in her ‘Ah Lian’ character.

The Minister explained that there are people, even in Singapore, who manufacture falsehoods to “Make people angry, they want to get people out on the streets. Riots have happened".

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Shanmugam's interviews with celebrities: Soft-sell reach greater, could have pitfalls, say experts
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam during an interview with Ah Lian, a well-known local Internet personality and the alter ego of actress Michelle Chong. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

Singapore's political leaders, and more broadly the Government, have turned to different channels to explain policies and convince the electorate of their merits.

The topic was a serious, even controversial, one - the recently passed fake news law. The approach, however, was light-hearted and unorthodox, with Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam appearing in online video interviews.

The reaction has been mixed. Some welcomed the effort to reach out and connect with new audiences and make policy more accessible. Critics, however, said they "cringed" at the unusual approach to explaining government policy.

related: The art of soft sell: Political leaders changing how they communicate with public

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Shanmugam sits down for interview on proposed fake news law - with Ah Lian
Ah Lian, actress Michelle Chong's alter ego, attempts to take a selfie with Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam before an interview on the proposed fake news law. A person off-camera reminds her that she has an interview to conduct first.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MICHELLE CHONG/FACEBOOK

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam has given another interview about the proposed fake news law to be read for a second time in Parliament on Monday (May 6).

The hard-hitting journalist interviewing him? None other than Ah Lian, a well-known local Internet personality and the alter ego of actress Michelle Chong.

"Today lim bu (Hokkien, referring to herself) is want to talk the serious thing. Eh! This thing ah is matter to all of you now watching," Ah Lian opens the video in her trademark vernacular style, gesturing vigorously.

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Shanmugam defends video with Michelle Chong’s Ah Lian in response to ST commentary
The video was apparently viewed by more than one million people

A video on social media featuring the unlikeliest of duos, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam and Michelle Chong’s Ah Lian persona, was making the rounds online.

On May 20, Shanmugam penned a post on Facebook to explain why he did it.

It was to essentially point out how such videos can sometimes be more effective than other media strategies to reach a wide audience.

And it was Shanmugam’s personal response to a Straits Times commentary, “The Art of the Soft Sell,”

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Law Minister criticises Straits Times article about his video with Michelle Chong

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has criticised a Straits Times (ST) article for making untrue assumptions about a recent video he did with local actress Michelle Chong, regarding the recently passed Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).

In her famous “Ah Lian” persona, Ms Chong interviewed the Minister about the anti-fake news law and the Minister made clarifications on what the law covers and how corrections may be issued. He confirmed that criticisms against the Government and that unknowingly “liking” or sharing possible fake news would not be covered by the law.

The video – which was created and published well before POFMA was passed – has accumulated over half a million views since it was published on Facebook on 5 May. It was also published in other video platforms like YouTube.

In answer to ST commentary, Law and Home Affairs Minister defends
Nas Daily said he liked Law Minister’s video with Michelle Chong

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K Shanmugam Sc 18 hours ago
[ Michelle Chong Video ]

ST published an article, “The Art of Soft Sell” (19 May) on the video that I did with Michelle Chong.

The ST article assumes that the video was intended to convey detailed points about the new online falsehoods legislation. But the video was not intended for that purpose.

It was one part of a multi-faceted engagement and communications effort. This included numerous media briefings and interviews, Op Eds, ground engagements and numerous dialogues with different stakeholders, including academics, lawyers, other professionals, as well as grassroots leaders (a few thousand).

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Michelle Chong · 4 May at 18:00

Premium Lian interview Dua Liap Minister K Shanmugam Sc

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K Shanmugam to ‘Ah Lian’: POFMA is like a Torchlight
Singapore's fake news law passed
Singapore introduces anti-fake news law
Why is Facebook in trouble?
The 'Dr Mahathir-Activists KL Meeting' Saga
States Times Review to shut down
Thumping of PJ Thum over ‘fake news’ hearing
Parliamentary committee on Fake News
Law to combat fake news to be introduced next year
Combating fake news in Singapore

Fakes and Frauds
Singapore public servants' computers no Internet from May 2017

Monday, 20 May 2019

First case of Monkeypox in Singapore

WHO: Human Monkeypox (MPX)

On 9 May 2019, the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Singapore notified WHO of one laboratory-confirmed case of monkeypox. The case-patient is a 38 year old Nigerian man who arrived in Singapore on 28 April 2019 and attended a workshop from 29-30 April. Prior to his travel to Singapore, he had worked in the Delta state in Nigeria, and had attended a wedding on 21 April 2019 in a village in Ebonyi State, Nigeria.

The patient developed fever, muscle aches, chills and skin rash on 30 April. He reported that he had remained in his hotel room most of the time between 1 and 7 May. He was transferred to a public hospital by ambulance on 7 May and referred to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) on the same day, where he was isolated for further management. Skin lesion samples were taken on 8 May and tested positive for monkeypox virus by the National Public Health Laboratory on the same day. He is currently in a stable condition.

Public health response - Based on investigations thus far, authorities in Singapore have traced and contacted a total of 23 close contacts, including 18 participants and trainers who attended the same workshop, one staff at the workshop venue, and four hotel staff who had close contact with the affected individual. Healthcare workers who were in contact with the patient had used personal protection equipment. MOH’s investigation and contact tracing operations are ongoing.

Risk of monkeypox spreading in S'pore is low, say experts
The Ministry of Health has confirmed one imported case of monkeypox infection in Singapore, involving a Nigerian national who arrived last month for a workshop.PHOTO: CDC/BRIAN W.J. MAHY

Singaporeans need not worry too much about monkeypox spreading among the population here, as the risk of human-to-human transmission is low, say infectious disease specialists.

"I'm not worried about it," said Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.

"Monkeypox has been in other countries like the United Kingdom, and there were no local transmissions subsequently. It didn't happen there, and the chance of it happening in Singapore is low."

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None of those exposed to virus have caught the infection so far

The 23 individuals who had close contact with a Nigerian man diagnosed with monkeypox earlier this month are well and have shown no sign so far of having caught the infection, as of Monday evening (May 13).

They will remain in quarantine up till 21 days from the last time they were in contact with the patient. This is the limit of infection following exposure, although most people who get it would show symptoms between six and 16 days.

5 of the contacts are Singaporeans, who were quarantined at home, while the 17 foreigners were housed individually at a designated quarantine facility, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday. They have Wi-Fi and meals are delivered to them. The remaining foreigner had left Singapore before the original infection was detected. He is also fine.

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Singapore Aggressively Confronts 1st Monkeypox Case

The Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) reported the 1st laboratory-confirmed case of monkeypox, on May 9, 2019. Additionally, the Singapore MOH released a press statement on May 9th, offering advice for the public, and communicated which measures are being taken to minimize the risk of any potential onward transmission of the monkeypox virus.

Human-to-human transmission, while possible, is limited. A person is infectious only during the period when he has monkeypox symptoms, particularly a skin rash.

There have been reported mortality rates up to 10 percent during outbreaks, with most deaths occurring in younger age groups.

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Thermal scanners set up at Indonesia’s checkpoints after Singapore monkeypox case

Thermal scanners have been set up at Indonesia’s airports and seaports, including those in Pekanbaru and Batam, to monitor visitors from Singapore for signs of monkeypox.

This comes after Singapore confirmed its first case of the rare virus last week.

According to a report by Jakarta Post, state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II (AP II) said it is working with the port health office (KKP) to beef up monitoring at its 13 international airports.

6 things to know about the virus

A Nigerian national tested positive for monkeypox on Wed (May 8), the first case of the rare viral disease reported here.

The man is currently in an isolation ward at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and is in stable condition.

22 out of 23 individuals who have been identified as close contacts of the patient are under quarantine as a precautionary measure. Here are 6 things to know about monkeypox:

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What you need to know about the disease

Authorities have confirmed Singapore's first case of monkeypox infection, imported by a 38-year-old Nigerian who arrived on Apr 28. The patient, who may have contracted the rare disease from eating bush meat while in Nigeria, tested positive for the virus on May 8. He is in stable condition in an isolation ward at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).

People who were in close contact with him have been put in quarantine although they have had no symptoms.

Here are some things you need to know about the disease:
  • How is monkeypox spread, and should we be worried about an outbreak?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • How dangerous is it?
  • How is monkeypox diagnosed and treated?

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Monkeypox facts
  • Monkeypox is a viral disease that produces pox-like lesions on the skin. It is closely related to smallpox but is not nearly as deadly as smallpox was.
  • The history of monkeypox is new (1958), and medical professionals diagnosed the first human monkeypox cases and differentiated them from smallpox in the early 1970s.
  • Monkeypox virus (MPXV) causes monkeypox. The majority of cases are transmitted from animals (rodents) to humans by direct contact.
  • Monkeypox is contagious. Person-to-person transfer, probably by droplets, can occur infrequently.
  • Risk factors for monkeypox include close association with African animals (usually rodents) that have the disease or caring for a patient who has monkeypox.
  • During the first few days, symptoms are nonspecific and include fever, nausea, and malaise. After about four to seven days, lesions (fluid-filled pustules, papules) develop on the face and trunk that ulcerate, crust over, and begin to clear up after about 14-21 days, and lymph nodes enlarge. There may be some scarring.
  • The diagnosis of monkeypox is often made presumptively in Africa by the patient's history and the exam that shows the pox lesions, however, a definitive diagnosis is made by PCR, ELISA, or Western blotting tests that are usually done by the CDC or some state labs. Definitive diagnosis is important to rule out other possible infectious agents like smallpox.
  • Treatment may consist of immediate vaccination with smallpox vaccine because monkeypox is so closely related to smallpox and thus cross-protective. Treatment with an antiviral drug or human immune globulin has been done.
  • In general, the prognosis for monkeypox is good to excellent as most patients recover. The prognosis may decrease in immunocompromised patients, and patients with other problems such as malnutrition or lung disease may have a poorer prognosis.
  • Monkeypox is preventable as long as people avoid direct contact with infected animals and people. Vaccination against smallpox seems to afford about an 85% chance of avoiding the infection. There is no commercially available vaccine specifically for monkeypox.
  • Research is ongoing to study antivirals, genetics, and rapid tests for monkeypox.

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Monkeypox is not the first rare infectious disease here in recent years.

Here are three more:
  • Candida auris infection - Candida auris is a drug-resistant invasive fungus that kills nearly half of its victims in 90 days. It is not a threat to healthy individuals and has so far been seen mostly in patients with weakened immune systems. At least three cases have been seen in a Singapore hospital since 2012, said a New Paper report.
  • Zika virus infection - The mosquito-borne Zika virus made headlines in 2015 when thousands of people in Brazil were affected and babies were born with Zika-related birth defects. The first locally transmitted case here was seen in August 2016, involving a woman who had no history of travel to countries affected by Zika then. About 450 people here were infected by the end of that year. As of last month, there were four Zika cases this year.
  • Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection - GBS is a bacterium commonly found in the gut and urinary tract of about 15 per cent to 30 per cent of adults without causing any disease. But it may occasionally cause infections of the skin, joints, heart and brain. A mass outbreak of 360 cases occurred in Singapore in 2015, with two fatalities. About 150 of the more serious cases were linked to the consumption of raw freshwater fish.

First case of Monkeypox in Singapore
Singapore's First Zika cluster of 2017
Travel updates to Singapore amid Zika fears
Singapore’s first local Zika infection
First case of Zika virus in Singapore
The Zika virus
Ebola Outbreak
WHO calls for international response to Ebola outbreak
Dengue Fever Outbreak
Taking the sting out of dengue