Monday, April 03, 2006

You have been warned.

I have been warned. So I better watch out. Have you been warned?

"Let us get down to fundamentals. Is this an open, or is this a closed society? Is it a society where men can preach ideas - novel, unorthodox, heresies, to established churches and established governments - where there is a constant contest for men's hearts and minds on the basis of what is right, of what is just, of what is in the national interests, or is it a closed society where the mass media - the newspapers, the journals, publications, TV, radio - either bound by sound or by sight, or both sound and sight, men's minds are fed with a constant drone of sycophantic support for a particular orthodox political philosophy? I am talking of the principle of the open society, the open debate, ideas, not intimidation, persuasion not coercion..."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Before Singapore's independence, Malaysian Parliamentary Debates, Dec 18, 1964

We will continue to expand the space which Singaporeans have to live, to laugh, to grow and to be ourselves. Our people should feel free to express diverse views, pursue unconventional ideas, or simply be different. We should have the confidence to engage in robust debate, so as [to] understand our problems, conceive fresh solutions, and open up new spaces. We should recognise many paths of success, and many ways to be Singaporean. We must give people a second chance, for those who have tasted failure may be the wiser and stronger among us. Ours must be an open and inclusive Singapore.
- Lee Hsien Loong, Inaugural speech, August 12 2004.

Singapore warns bloggers against political postings
Mon Apr 3, 2006 7:38 AM ET11

SINGAPORE (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.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whose People's Action Party has dominated politics in the city-state since independence in 1965, is widely expected to call early elections in the coming months.

"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 rumors and distortions to mislead and confuse the public," Sadasivan said.

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.

While Sadasivan said the government's approach was to take "a light touch" in regulating the Internet, political activists have complained that the rules are too broadly defined, preventing an open debate. He said a change of the law was ruled out.

The rules also apply to "podcasting", an increasingly popular medium through which audio files are made available for download on the Internet, allowing Web surfers to listen to them at their convenience.

Last year, opposition politician Chee Soon Juan launched a podcast on the Singapore Democratic Party's Web site in an attempt to reach a wider audience and bypass the pro-government media.


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