Written answer by Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, to Parliamentary Question on cyberbullying
21 Jan 2014 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Er Dr Lee Bee Wah, Nee Soon GRC
To ask the Minister for Law if he can provide an update of the multi-Ministry review to tighten the laws and civil measures to curb cyberbullying.
Sections 13A to 13D of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act (“MOA”) criminalise acts that constitute harassment. Acts of harassment may also be offences under other legislation such as the Penal Code, Women’s Charter, and Moneylenders Act.
In terms of civil remedies, it might be possible to make a claim based on the common law tort of harassment. The High Court’s earlier decision in Malcomson Nicholas Hugh Bertram and another v Mehta Naresh Kumar  3 SLR(R) 379 implied that there was such a cause of action. However, a recent High Court decision queried the existence of this tort in AXA Insurance Singapore Pte Ltd v Chandran s/o Natesan  4 SLR 545.
An inter-Ministry group has been reviewing the laws against harassment and related antisocial behaviour, including cyberbullying, because the trends are worrying. A recent Microsoft Study in 2012 on bullying among youth aged 8 to 17 worldwide in which 25 countries were surveyed found that bullying was particularly pervasive in six countries, including Singapore. 86% of those surveyed had experienced bullying online, offline or both. The survey also indicated that Singapore had the second highest rate of online bullying of youths (58%), behind only China (70%).
At a conference organised by the Institute of Policy Studies to discuss the problem of harassment in November 2013, proposals to strengthen our laws were discussed.
Based on the feedback, the Government’s present thinking is to build on the existing legal framework to provide a ladder of remedies to tackle the broad spectrum of harassing acts and related anti-social behaviour. We will give more details in due course.
Last updated on 21 Jan 2014