Well, that escalated quickly.
Last night, I was informed that the PAP had shared, on their Facebook page, the article, “Dumb and Dumber Singaporean Reactions to the Haze“, which had also claimed that this blog “uses half-truths and misquoted information”.
Source: PAP’s Facebook Page
When I saw what the PAP had shared, I was surprised because what made the PAP, the government of the day, think that it’s appropriate to share an article that had called Singaporeans “dumb”? Should the leadership of the country give credence to an article that admonishes the whole population of Singaporeans?
What does this say of a government which does not think twice but to share an article that chastises Singaporeans? If PAP is sincere in engaging Singaporeans, is it the right thing to do to share an article which lashes out at the very people that the PAP should be serving?
I was flabbergasted! This is the highest authority of the country and did they think it fit to share an article which questions the intelligence and capabilities of Singaporeans? What does it mean for the PAP to align themselves with a blog which demeans Singaporeans?
This – coming from the upper echelons of the greatest minds in our country? I am very worried.
How did all these happen?
On Saturday, 22 June 2013, The Heart Truths had posted an article which had rebutted Vivian Balakrishnan’s claim that “other jurisdictions” publish only 24-hourly average readings of their PSI readings.
On Sunday 23 June 2013, the blog, sgthinker, published the article which had slammed Singaporean reactions as being “dumb”. sgthinker had said that, “There’s a world of difference in the way Singaporeans have reacted to the haze compared to say, Japan” and made suggestions that Singaporeans are “unreasonable”.
In the article, sgthinker made insinuations against The Heart Truths.
Yesterday 24 June 2013, Koh Poh Koon, the PAP candidate who had lost the Punggol-East By Election earlier this year, shared sgthinker’s article on his Facebook page.
Two hours later, the PAP shared the article on their Facebook page.
Source: PAP’s Facebook Page
I had also responded to sgthinker’s blog yesterday.
With specific reference to sgthinker’s insinuation, I had said the following:
I had also said the following:
Take a look at the timeline.
Honestly, it is very unbecoming of a political party to share articles which does not give credence or show respect to Singaporeans. A government is expected to hold itself to high esteem and to maintain itself with humility to the people. Has the PAP showed itself to be as such?
I am only an ordinary Singaporean who wants to write and share what I’ve researched, to help raise the awareness of the issues in Singapore among Singaporeans. As a citizen, I believe that it is my duty to learn more about my country and to help my fellow Singaporeans learn more about Singapore as well.
I believe that we need to take a stand for our country because all of us, Singaporeans, have a stake in this country as well.
It is thus very perplexing that the PAP had also shared an article which not only maligns this blog, The Heart Truths, but also labels Singaporeans as being “dumb”. What signal is the PAP sending out?
This is not the first time that The Heart Truths has been defamed. Two weeks ago, the website, Five Stars And A Moon, had also written an article to malign this blog.
The article made this remark about The Heart Truths:
I had written a strongly worded article and sent it to Five Stars And A Moon.
If you read Five Stars And A Moon, you will know their allegiance.
The recent development is very worrying for Singapore.
- I am a singular Singaporean who is being targeted – I am not too sure by who – and I am not the only one. What does this say about Singapore’s democracy?
- The PAP had shared an article that describes Singaporeans in a crude way and which shows such great disrespect to Singaporeans?
But what does the PAP truly think about democracy?
This was what Tan Chuan-Jin had to say:
Source: Tan Chuan-Jin’s Facebook Page
Zainudin Nordin had shared a quote which related democracy to gang rape.
Source: Zainudin Nordin’s Facebook Page
What does the PAP really believe about democracy then?
Recent developments, especially in 2013, is very worrying.
Earlier this year, Alex Au was threatened with defamation.
Source: The DiaS’pura Dialogue
Filmmaker Lynn Lee was arrested, questioned and warned by the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Artist Leslie Chew had also been arrested and investigated.
Source: Comic Book Resources
These are all ordinary Singaporeans who believe that they have a responsibility to do their part for Singapore, to learn more about Singapore and to share with Singaporeans what they can.
These are Singaporeans who believe that as citizens, we have a role to play to help one another and to make our lives better. Just like The Heart Truths, we hope that we are able to continue to help Singaporeans gain deeper insights and understandings of Singapore.
But the environment has become increasingly unfriendly for ordinary Singaporeans like us to do so. How would Singaporeans be able to go around in our daily activities, and also to be involved in what is going on in our country? Can Singaporeans continue to play an active role in our country and provide solutions when we are uncertain as to when the law will be used against us, or when we are uncertain as to when our right to speak up will be restricted?
The current developments in Singapore is unhealthy and is undemocratic. As Singaporeans, we need to speak up and stand up for our rights. We need to protect our independence to continue to function freely.
We Need To Protect Our Independence to Read And Know
On 1 June, the Media Development Authority (MDA) had implemented a licensing rule on “online news websites” which would have to pay $50,000 and take down their articles within 24 hours if the MDA wants them to.
- Singaporeans, can you imagine if the MDA was allowed to do so? Will you still be able to access a diverse range of information if websites have to take down their articles or do not have the money to continue to maintain their websites? Will we still be able to read and know, and make informed decisions for ourselves? Will we still have our democratic rights in our own country, in Singapore?
- More importantly, do you know that the MDA licensing rules do not cover government websites? Looking at the quality of information that was shared by Koh Poh Koon and the PAP on their Facebook pages, do you believe that the government should have the overall and unilateral right to make licensing and regulatory decisions on our websites? One has to put their house in order first before they believe that they have a right to monitor others. Otherwise, the government shouldn’t have the overriding right to make decisions for the rest of Singapore. Such a decision, if necessary, should lie in the hands of all Singaporeans, and not just the government.
The #FreeMyInternet movement has affirmed that the licensing rule will deny Singaporeans of our right to access information. From what I’ve also illustrated in this article, it is thus also not in the interest of Singaporeans for the Internet to be regulated by the government, because it is clear that the government might not be in best position to do so.
But more importantly, the Internet should not have additional regulations heaped on it. Singaporeans are capable enough to read and to make our own decisions as to the information we read. Importantly, if the government was to regulate the news, this would mean that our choices will be made limited and we would have access to less information. It would be more difficult for us to be able to be discerning in what we are able to know, if we do not have a diversity of information to rely on.
Recent developments in the sociopolitical landscape of Singapore has been very worrying. I am very concerned that our civil liberties will be taken away from us.
- The PAP wants Singaporeans to trust them. But is their sharing of an article that is highly suspect worrying? Does it concern us that the article that the PAP had shared considers Singaporeans as “dumb”? Is it respectable that the leaders of this country would see it fit to associate themselves with an article that calls Singaporeans, “dumb”?
- Ordinary Singaporeans have come under fire of the law. All of a sudden, laws used against larger organisations in the past are now also being used against ordinary Singaporeans. Ordinary Singaporeans who hope to do their part for Singapore are being criminalised for standing up for other Singaporeans and individuals. For Singaporeans who still remember what had happened of the Singaporeans who had been arrested and locked up for several decades under the Internal Security Act from the 1960s to 1980s, would know that we have to guard against such intrusions into our lives, and we need to protect our independence and our right to live.
- Finally, in light of all these, the Internet is the only channel that Singaporeans are able to exercise our rights now. The Internet is the only place where we can continue to speak up and defend ourselves and where we can continue to play an active role in shaping the country that we want. We need to guard against any intrusions of the Internet and any attempt to police our use of the Internet. We need to protect the independence of our Internet, because only when the Internet is independent, will we be truly independent.
Singaporeans, if we do not stand up for our rights, we will be run over. If we do not protect the independence of our Internet, we will lose the only opportunity that we have to protect our independence.
Singaporeans, if we do not stand up to protect ourselves and our rights, we are next.
This is why I am standing up. This is why I am speaking. We need to take a stand. We need to protect ourselves. #FreeMyInternet