Monday, December 2, 2013

Is Cyber City Burning?

It was definitely open season for online citizens last week. Anyone with an opinion stood the risk of being targeted and taken down. For the hunters, it was like a field day for mosquitoes at a nudist beach. Brings back to mind an old Cold War joke:
American: In America we have freedom of speech.
Russian: In Russia, we also have freedom of speech.
American: In America, we have freedom even after the speech.

The first foray came from Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), unleashing a dastardly duo from their stable of attack dogs to cast calumny over a fair damsel's Facebook post. Adrian Tay (Editor, AsiaOne) and Chua Chim Kang (Chief Editor, Lianhe Wanbao) must be shooting for another of those SPH self-congratulating awards, “Gutter Journalism at its Finest”. Tay and Chua mastered the strategy well, destroy first, apologise later. Just you try asking if Yaacob Ibrahim's wife and two kids are currently in possession of American passports.

Then we hear the Media Development Authority (MDA) has called in suppressing fire on a fledgling website, demanding it to “register” by Dec 10. Unlike Yahoo and 9 other news sites who had to obtain a "license" and plunk down a $50,000 deposit, MDA says this requirement is "just a declaration” to confirm there will be no receipt of foreign funding. Putting on their best poker face, MDA insists the registration was an “interim measure”, the real hard act to follow will be the forthcoming review of the Broadcasting Act.

Next, heavy artillery was lobbed from the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC). On Wednesday, the High Court gave AGC permission to summon a blogger to court for alleged contempt in one of his postings in October. The AGC action may just torpedo Singapore’s commitment to the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, adopted on 18 November 2012. Article 23 clearly states,
“Every person has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information, whether orally, in writing or through any other medium of that person’s choice."
Watcha gonna do? Sue the AGC?

Meanwhile, the Australian writer who "took a leave of licence and liberty in mentioning Singapore in rather tenuous circumstances" was spared official sanction. Minister for Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam says the Republic does not come out "to confirm or deny" any (foreign) reports on allegations that the Republic was helping Western nations to spy on its neighbours, namely the Malaysians and Indonesians.  Mr Shanmugam said: "The point is -- the Indonesians and Malaysians know we won't do anything to harm their interests"; the big guns are always pointing at our own citizens. Still, their ambassadors had to have their pound of flesh, both hauled in the Singapore representative for a proper dressing down. Depending on the changing winds of politics, the roaring lion sure knows when to play the meek mouse.


  1. "Just you try asking if Yaacob Ibrahim's wife and two kids are currently in possession of American passports."

    can asking this question get one sued or arrested??????

  2. No need ask. they are indeed american citizens... his son can skip NS.

  3. At the next gathering of ASEAN leaders, SBY and Najib should table PM Lee to confirm the spying allegations and it will be interesting to see if he will make a similar statement as Shanmugam or boldly tell his audience "What to do, it's been done, let's move on. "

    Having said that, the PAP gov henceforth should not begrudge the rest of ASEAN members collaborating to do the same to the Singapore leadership and perhaps one day we get to hear the Malaysian, Indonesian, Thai or even China's leadership telling PM Lee, " We will not come out to confirm or deny any reports that we have been helping rivals spy on Singapore companies and the point is, we will not do anything to harm Singapore's interests." LOL

    1. Little people12/02/2013 11:38 AM

      Unless they have something to gain politically, our neighbours will not wash dirty linen in public. The summons for ambassadors was to a PR exercise to pander to domestic audience.
      They are not so innocent themselves.

      But I bet they will try some arm twisting behind the scenes... and our greedy business people will renegotiate terms. Its all about money. Not about moral standing or ethics... these values are practiced only by "little people".. Yes?

  4. When was in the civil service, i was told by my boss that my prospects in the ministry will be limited because i had a non singaporean spouse. Was i dreaming then or Am i dreaming now!?

    1. It is not so much of who you are but who you know. Ask Chan Chun Seng. He can kee chiu to attest to it.

    2. Don't you know? Now, it is different - foreigners are first class citizens and Singaporeans third class. You should be promoted very soon for having a FT wife. Maybe you should marry a few more.

  5. “Satisfied people don’t have time to go onto the Internet. Unhappy people often go there”

    Strong leaders don't have time to go onto the internet to curb dissents and fix netizens. In-secured leaders often go there.

  6. "The idea of people thinking for themselves, the idea of people learning that history is contested, the idea of people learning examples of people coming together, organizing and advocating for change that in their own moment seemed impossible but actually offset and overturned systems of power, systems that seemed immovable. That's a very dangerous lesson." Howard Zinn

    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem." ― Howard Zinn

    The People Speak ;-

  7. I suppose "No need to deny or confirm" is in the same predicament as a husband caught with another woman in a comprising position - what is exactly there to deny if one is caught with your pants down ?

    The million dollar question to follow would be "How come they don't have the least integrity to admit it like what they would have ask of the WP in so many other matters ?