BEWARE, SINGAPORE BLOGGERS: WITCH-HUNT AHEAD
Remember the events of 2005, when a couple of Singapore bloggers were hauled up in court for writing alleged "racist" remarks on the internet?
Well, suffice to say, they were charged with an archaic, long-forgotten law known as the "Sedition Act".
For those of you who would love to reminisce the good old days of witch huntings, our Singapore government has something up her sleeves.
With elections coming up, our government is understandably very jumpy: From giving free cash handouts in the form of "Progressive Packages", to reducing the prices of electricity, they may have more tricks up their sleeves!
Excerpts from Yahoo! Singapore:
Singapore warns bloggers against political postings SINGAPORE, April 3 (Reuters) - Political debate on the Internet could fuel "dangerous discourse" in Singapore, the government said on Monday, warning people who post political commentary on Web sites could face prosecution. Speaking in parliament, senior minister of state Balaji Sadasivan, said anyone using the Internet to "persistently propagate, promote or circulate political issues" about Singapore during election periods was breaking the law.
Sobering news indeed.
Yet again, our right to free speech has been under seige, even on the internet. According to our rather wise minister of state, "persistent propagation, promotion or circulation of political issues" during election time runs smack against the rule of law!
Jeez. Perhaps its just me being moronic, but here is a question I would like to post to our endearing "Minister of State": Are we living in a communist country, or a democratic one? Why on Earth should Singaporeans be banned from voicing out their opinions on politics? Does that mean the average man on the street who, on merely uttering the words "PAP", will be arrested immediately by our highly trained thought police?
Before I continue, more words of wisdom from our Minister of State:
"In a free-for-all Internet environment, where there are no rules, political debate could easily degenerate into an unhealthy, unreliable and dangerous discourse, flush with rumours and distortions to mislead and confuse the public."
The Article continues:
The tiny island-republic's laws require political parties and individuals to register if they want to post political content on the Internet. Print media in Singapore are tightly controlled, but the Internet is rife with Web sites that discuss Singapore politics, from the critical newsgroup sg_review (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/) to the comical www.talkingcock.com and blogs such as singabloodypore (http://singabloodypore.blogspot.com) and www.yawningbread.org.
It is not clear whether any of these sites have registered with the government.
The message put forward is indeed very clear: Either zip up and shut up, or register with the government.
My curiosity here is three-fold:
1. Are political debates specially reserved only for the previleged few?(I.e members of the ruling elite)
2. Does healthy discussions of politics necessarily sparkle riots and general mayhem ?(Oh no! Not the 1960 racial riots mantra again! Are You Singaporeans sick and tired of hearing this broken record???)
3. So, stating one's political views is wrong? So, how will the government sue the offender? Under which law? The Sedition Act? Or incarcerate the offender indefinitely without trial, under the dubious Internal Security Act?
Such ambiguous threats from our government to stifle free speech is disturbing. It almost reminds me of George Bush's sick attempt to silence negative media reports on the Iraqi War, and the subsequent attempts to stop the western media from taking pictures of Americans arriving back home in coffins.
If anyone is familiar with history, this may be the beginnings of the emergence of the Fourth Reich.
Hell, I may be wrong. Who knows. It may be closer to us than we thought.