The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has confirmed – through a Facebook post – that there will be no amendments to the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) in the near future. Calls for such changes are not new (here). The ST had carried a piece (Oct. 23, 2013), explaining that the standing broad jump station could be scrapped, and the run distance increased from 2.4km to 3.2km. ST’s online post had almost 68,000 shares on Facebook, and 5,000 shares on Twitter.
Days later, while clarifying that the Singapore Army had not made a decision yet, the ST maintained (Oct. 24, 2013) that “commanders have been briefed about the likely changes”, and “servicemen revealed that they had taken the new tests as part of trials”.
The last time something similar happened was when ST reported (Sept. 20, 2011) about the SAF’s plan to ease the blanket ban on camera phones in military camps. Then, ST had “learnt that under proposed changes, all SAF personnel will be allowed to bring these phones into all military installations islandwide, so long as the cameras inside them are removed”.
Like the present incident, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) clarified two days later in a ST forum letter (Sept. 22, 2011) that “there is no change to the current security policy on disallowing personal image-capturing devices in SAF camps”. The original headline – “SAF to ease ban on camera phones in camps” – was deemed to be misleading, and the referenced trials of some servicemen experimenting with modified iPhone and Android handsets were affirmed as what they were: just “ongoing trials”.
Of course about a year later, MINDEF relaxed its prohibitions of camera-equipped mobile phones in certain Green Zones.
A curious Catch-22? Perhaps. The premature publication of such changes can be perceived as instances of misinformation or irresponsible disinformation (here), of the ST disseminating unconfirmed news. The use of “may”, “could”, and “likely” does not change the fact that the journalist appears to have jumped the gun. On the other hand, it would be ludicrous to think that the original piece – with its sources – had been written willfully. Surely, there had to be credible basis for the claims. Surely the newspaper would not want to be a mere mouthpiece, regurgitating press releases or official announcements. Surely these scoops do have their value.
Yet, in an environment where the absolute veracity of news and information seems to have taken precedence, many are unlikely to take to ST’s endeavour kindly. Even a I-told-you-so months from now may not be worth the hassle.