Foreign interference are attempts by foreign actors to manipulate our domestic politics through covert and deceptive means to undermine our political sovereignty and harm our social cohesion.
As an open, highly digitally connected, and diverse society, Singapore is especially vulnerable to the evolving threat of foreign interference. Singapore was the subject of foreign interference in the past and it may happen again – we need to constantly update our laws to tackle the threat and ensure that Singaporeans alone decide our own domestic politics.
To counter the threat of foreign interference, the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act (FICA) will ensure that Singaporeans can decide how we govern our country and live our lives.
The legislation will introduce countermeasures to prevent, detect and disrupt foreign interference in our domestic politics conducted through (i) hostile information campaigns and (ii) local proxies (Politically Significant Persons).
Countering Hostile Information Campaigns (HICs)
HICs involve the use of sophisticated online tools and tactics in a coordinated manner to advance a country’s interest, such as influencing domestic political discourse, inciting social discord and undermine political sovereignty.
If there is suspicion of HIC content taking place, the Minister for Home Affairs will be able to issue directions to various entities such as social media services, relevant electronic services, internet access services, as well as persons who own or run websites, blogs or social media pages, to help the authorities investigate and counter hostile communications activity that is of foreign origin.
The directions will enable us to obtain information to determine whether there is foreign influence operations, prevent harmful online comms activity from taking place and block harmful online comms activity from amplifying further.
Safeguarding those who take part in our domestic politics (Politically Significant Persons)
Individuals and non-individuals who are directly involved in Singapore’s political processes will be defined as Politically Significant Persons (PSPs) and will be subject to countermeasures to mitigate the risk of foreign interference.
PSPs will cover individuals and non-individuals including:
• Political parties
• Political office holders
• Members of Parliament (“MPs”), including Non-Constituency MPs and Nominated MPs
• Leader of the House
• Leader of the Opposition
• Election candidates, and their election agents
In addition, the Competent Authority (appointed by Minister for Home Affairs) can designate other individuals and non-individuals that may be susceptible to foreign interference as PSPs, if their activities are directed towards a political end.
The countermeasures on defined and designated PSPs will cover the following threat vectors of foreign influence – donations, volunteers, leadership and membership, and affiliations.
The aim is to ensure that actors who are actively involved in our political process and are vulnerable to being compromised are not subjected to foreign interference.
• Second Reading Speech for Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill - Speech by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development, 4 October 2021
• Second Reading Speech for Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill - Speech by Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, 4 October 2021
• Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on How the Latest Cyber Technology is Drawn Upon to Detect and Deter Foreign Interference with Domestic Politics and Social Issues, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, 13 September 2021
• Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Policies and Practices to Prevent Individuals Who Have Studied or Worked at Local Academic Institutions from Being Influenced or Recruited by Foreign Intelligence, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, 6 July 2021
• CNA: Foreign Interference: Countering Evolving Tactics, 5 October 2021
• CNA: The Beginner's Guide to Foreign Interference, 27 September 2021
• Home Team News: Foreign Interference: Countering Attacks on Our Social Resilience, 23 September 2021
• Home Team News: Foreign Interference: An Old Threat in a New Form, 23 September 2021