SINGAPORE: The author of an article containing statements that the Ministry of Education (MOE) has branded as “fake news” maintains they were not made up, but acknowledged that he may have attributed them to the wrong person.
In a statement published yesterday on the website of EducationHQ Australia, Walter Barbieri, a freelance contributor to the site, apologised but stood by the remarks.
“I wrote the article in good faith and did not intend to cause any offence. I maintain that the words quoted were delivered at the conference, and convey my genuine apologies if I have attributed them to the wrong speaker,” Barbieri said.
His widely shared article, published in the August issue of Australian Teacher Magazine, which comes under EducationHQ, had quoted MOE director-general of education Wong Siew Hoong as telling an international conference here in May that Singapore was “building compliant students just as the jobs that value compliance are beginning to disappear”.
On Tuesday, MOE said the statements in the article were false and Wong had not delivered those comments. The conference organiser, the National Institute of Education, had said no other speakers had made comments similar to what was purported in the article.
In his statement yesterday, Barbieri did not say who might have made the statements at the conference or provide proof that the statements had indeed been made by Wong or other speakers at the conference.
He had first attributed them to Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng in the article’s print edition before attributing them to Wong in the online version of the article.
In its statement, EducationHQ said it acknowledged that “quotes were wrongly attributed to director-general of the Ministry of Education, Wong Siew Hoong”.
It apologised for any offence the article may have caused, adding that “every effort is made on all occasions in our publications to ensure information presented is factually accurate, however in this instance we have fallen short of our lofty standards.” — The Straits Times/Asia News Network