New Delhi, May 19 (PTI) Singapore on Wednesday appreciated the Indian government's 'crystal clear clarification' on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's remarks on a new COVID-19 variant and said it reserved the right to invoke the provision of domestic law to check misinformation on some of the comments made by him.
Singapore High Commissioner to India Simon Wong said his country now wants to put the 'unfortunate chapter' behind and focus on collectively dealing with the pandemic.
Kejriwal's claim on Tuesday about a new COVID-19 strain detected in Singapore sparked off a diplomatic row, with the Southeast Asian country on Wednesday calling in the Indian envoy and conveying to him its strong objections to the 'unfounded assertions'.
Following Singapore foreign ministry's reaction, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the Delhi chief minister does not speak for India and that the two countries have been solid partners in combating the pandemic.
Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi, said the Indian High Commissioner P Kumaran clarified to the Singapore government that the Delhi chief minister had no competence to comment on COVID-19 variants.
'We certainly appreciate the Indian government's crystal clear clarification and we are satisfied with it,' the high commissioner said.
He said the facts are quite clear and that those holding prominent political offices must have a responsibility 'not to propagate falsehoods'.
'So indeed, in Singapore, there is an act called Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act known as POFMA. It is meant to mitigate the spread of misinformation. So we reserve the right to invoke POFMA on some of the comments and assertions made by the Chief Minister on this topic,' Wong said.
The high commissioner, referring to some of the comments made on the issue by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, said tests on those affected by COVID-19 in Singapore found that strain prevalent was of the B.1.617.2 variant, which was first detected in India.
'Based on those tests and scientific evidence, we came out with a statement to rebut and refute some of the points made by the Delhi Government,' the high commissioner said.
'I feel that as a Singapore High Commissioner here, my job is to deal with bilateral relationship. We do not dabble in domestic politics. So I leave it to the government of India and political parties to sort it out. For me, I am very assured by the clarifications made by the ministry of external affairs and External Affairs Minister Jaishankar,' he said.
Kejriwal on Tuesday asked the central government to immediately halt air services with Singapore claiming that a new coronavirus strain found in that country is particularly harmful to children and could trigger a third wave of the pandemic in India. Singapore's health ministry trashed the claim last night. PTI MPB ZMN