Monday, April 03, 2006


2oo6: Fishing for bloggers in the boiling cauldron of pork-barrel politics


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 ( to the comical and blogs such as singabloodypore ( and
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.

Hitler: Leader of The Third Reich. Are We Witnessing the Succession of the Forth?

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.


At 9:21 PM, April 03, 2006, Blogger at82 said...

Hi beast:

I personally disagree with comparing Singapore with with Nazi Germany.

It belittles the evilness of Hilter & co.. I do not believe that Singapore is anywhere near that.

At 3:13 PM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Thrasymachus said...

Hi At82

Actually, before the parliamentary seating, I've met up with "him" to discussed on the issue of blogging regulations.

I don't think we are anyway near that, but I can't disclose too much of our (between him and me) conversation. But rest assured, that things are not as bad as it seemed. In actual fact, "they" have no intentions of policing it to that extent. So, I would blog as I wish, but just do the "right thing". ;)

Sorry for such indirect answers. Hope you got my meaning... =P


At 4:20 PM, April 04, 2006, Blogger at82 said...

Hi thrasy:

That would be cool! "Him" ehh... hahaha... so secretive haha...

At 10:34 PM, April 04, 2006, Blogger Thrasymachus said...

Hi at82

The full text is available here. Trust me, it is not as scary as it seems. ;)


At 11:39 PM, April 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's totally unright to compare singapore with nazi germany... Singapore is far better...

Why is it that the govt impose such acts of sedition? Simple, because we have seen many cases of people misusing their freedom of speech. A result of such a misuse of speech will lead to disasterous consequences... See the riots constantly happening in many other countries? Freedom of speech caused many of such riots... See the chaos in thailand? Luckily we still have got a govt to at least censor and control what we say...

Nevertheless, I don't think the PAP would need to actually censor the people to "gain" votes... Time and time again we have seen them creating successes after successes for our nation. We're known worldwide for being "autocratic" or communist. But, looking at previous autocratic or communist countries, has any one of them been more of a success than our nation?

No doubt, healthy discussion of politics would bring improvements. But, the internet is a huge domain.. Many things get out of control... Many discussions
might end up being "unhealthy", which is detrimental, not beneficial. I doubt the govt would hunt down people who give constructive feedback. But, the more oftenly seen are either negative and unconstructive or comical comments..

There is a reason for everything, including our various sedition acts...

However, what balaji said seems a little too much though... Thats why he's still a (junior) minister...

At 11:48 PM, April 04, 2006, Blogger BEAST said...

Riots, riots, riots.........

I am sick and tired of Singaporeans droning about riots, about how those riots of another era is entirely relevant in today's context.

As I have reiterated before, the days of the 1960s were the beginnings of an emerging nation, hence justifying the use of such archaic laws.......fair enough.

40 yrs later, a different, more intellectual generation has blossomed....supposedly. In reality, we are still trapped in the past. Its like stepping into a damaged time machine that remains stymiged in time: Neither moving backward or forward!

Fellow Singaporeans, PLEASE START THINKING OBJECTIVELY. If eating fishballs can choke you, should the government ban fishballs?

Just because freedom of speech can lead to rioting, does that mean we stop talking anything at all?

Sometimes, I wish I was never a Singaporean. Its almost depressing to hear the same old speech being repeated OVER AND OVER again like an old broken recorder.

At 1:20 AM, April 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi beast forgive the profamities it's none of my business and not even my country but since I leave here too and pay my taxes employ singaporeans and mind my business (in general):

please take to the streets now, burn the flag, hurt a few hapless police men (poor chaps) and then set fire to a few cars.

it's the only language they fcuking understand.

they are afraid, they should be

"the people indulge in extraordinary revenge against those who have robbed them of their liberty"

The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli

lewd pictures?! for fucks sake are they stupid as well as arrogant.

At 1:28 AM, April 05, 2006, Blogger BEAST said...


You are assuming that, if our govt grants its people their rights to their own freedoms:

1. People will riot like a bunch of chimpanzees grabbing for bananas.

2. We will all start rioting on the streets and burning cars like a cool summer camp.

Please understand that:

1. Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom to break the laws.

2. Singaporeans are more well educated than in the 1960s: They wouldn't go ape over a racist remark by a idiot, nor will they be burning stuff en mass, because the rule of law still applies.

You have been brainwashed by our education system to even think objectively.

Don't blame you though. Typical Singaporean.


At 12:20 PM, April 05, 2006, Anonymous laksa_boy said...

For all those morons who think free speech must come with responsibility:

"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for
people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."
-Noam Chomsky

Sure, 'responsibility' ( i.e being tactful, polite, sensible) is good and well but it is entirely VOLUNTARY from the individual. No authority should legislate or coerce the people to say/think/speak/publish what they please.

Sure, maybe comparison of the PAP with the Nazis might be an overkill: the PAP didn't send Jews to bake in ovens. BUT, the propaganda side is very similar. Ever read the local media's coverage news of *good* news? Then compare it with unedited versions from Reuters, AP etc? The 140th ranking wasn't without a reason.

And to the fucktard (there I go again with my expletives, are you fascinated with free speech yet?) who claimed that the PAP has created 'success' after 'success' therefore it won the past elections with resounding mandates... you must be smoking crack or something similarly potent. I won't say more.

At 7:30 PM, April 05, 2006, Blogger BEAST said...

Laksa Boy:

Well articulated!

Seriously, of all the readers, you were the only one who truly understood why I mentioned hitler's third reich.

And you are quite right about the anonymous guy.....he must have been smoking pot ever since the tyrants and despots took over.

Great post.

At 9:55 AM, April 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't polite to compare our fascist state to that of a communist state. And when i say communist, i mean atruly communist state vis-a-vis Marx and Engels' Manifesto.

Thrasymachus, so are you telling me that our dearly elected government merely enacted the act to scare the shit out of people? And that they have no plans to go ahead with its own suggestions? That's far scarier. So Parliament is a tool for PAP to scare us, Singaporeans?

"Private or individual bloggers can discuss politics. However, if they persistently propagate, promote or circulate political issues relating to Singapore , they are required to register with the MDA."

With all due respect to Dr Balaji, that two sentences are vague and serve no purpose but to confuse singaporeans more. What are the issues relating to Singapore? Racial Quotas? The right to freedom of expression? I'm sorry but that doesn't do anything but to beguile lay people who know nothing and don't want to know anything about the law.

The freedom of expression is a cherished tenet in most democratic societies. However, please note that just as us, the brits have a Speakers; Corner and are required to apply for a licence to hold a protest marches. The only difference between them and us is that they have a government which allows such freedoms to its people by approving of such licences and applications. Whereas in our society, we're being stamped out even before proceeding to present application forms.

Quite sad, really.

At 12:53 PM, April 06, 2006, Anonymous jerome said...

I feel sad for Singaporeans. Really. My heart goes out to you guys. I've been to Singapore several times now and when I'm there the talk is always about how Singapore is a Forbidden City, a enunch state. It's sad. I don't envy the legacy that you guys have been forced to inherit, or risk being put through Singapore's own Orwellian Ministry of Love Room 101. But what really makes it so terrible and horrifying is that Singapore is so modern. If Singapore were some backwater where people are still dying of malaria and typhoid because the country can't afford the drugs (at inflated prices), it probably wouldn't seem so bad. That would at least be gut-wrenchingly tragic. But Singapore's just pathetic and depressing. Sorry to say, and I don't mean this to offend. I have lotsa good Singaporean friends who are nice, polite and intelligent. Some are them are lovely. Some I even admire. But Singaporeans can be strangely defensive (and even protective) of the monsters you guys have allowed to grow fat and arrogant in your parliament. A true democracy would not have allowed that to happen. (Then again, where in the world can you find a 100% true democracy?) My country, Malaysia, of course, is no better. But at least there's still a lot of land to move around in and our general ineptitude has allowed us this country that little bit of manouverability and ambiguity. But Singapore is a little tiny panopticon island of cheerfully-painted-yet-depressing high rise boxes and you guys are just happily volunteering to be neutered. And I don't mean your genitals. But a far more important organ: your mind. And that's just... sad. If the Singaporean blogging community spoke up today (or tommorrow) about political injustices in Singapore, some of you may get called in for questioning. But if you register, you are volunteering yourselves to be questioned. There's a fundamental difference between being questioned after the fact and submitting yourself to the suspect line-up before any crime has even been committed. Sure, one shouldn't break the law knowingly but being asked to hand over your mind before you have a chance to use it on your own... that's just masochistic. And for the state to do that is totally fascist and completely unethical. This is forced consensuality--a paradox of power relations it may be, but it's an abuse of power nevertheless. Most people will not see this. But will the people who see it stop it? In Singapore, it seems that that's no longer an option. In fact, if you have an independent mind in Singapore, you are a freak. If you use it to think about politics, you are a criminal. I can't think of a worse country to be born in.

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