Friday, April 07, 2006

Curbing Freedom Of Speech?

The recent declaration that internet musings and forums pertaining to political agenda will be not allowed for this coming election is indeed a big blow to the democratic process of Singapore. A constituition that thrives on free speech is taking a step backwards and losing it's viability. I am sure many people are surprised with this decision. This decision swings both ways. It affects every political party in Singapore including the incumbent. But it is the opposition that is feeling the pinch. More so because they believe that the media in Singapore is state-controlled and they do not have a level playing ground to campaign their cause. The only avenue they believe in is the internet, where censorship is at it's minimal and political discourse can be carried out effectively and efficently.

It is puzzling to see why such a course of action has been taken by the government. They have stated that the reason for this decision is to ensure that the politics in Singapore is taken with all 'seriousness'. They will not tolerate half truths, rumours and defamation. Something that allowing the internet freeplay will ensue. The opposition claim otherwise. That this law is instead used to curb free expression and the government is using it for their own agenda and for their own political victory. The government has stated clearly that it not only wants 'seriousness', they also want to prevent Singapore politics from turning into a circus where there something as important as this is treated as 'entertainment'.

What is actually 'entertainment'? Is entertainment really about a free discourse of political agenda on the internet? Does entertainment mean that the opposition is untrustworthy and that they would use the freeplay that the internet allow to turn the political scene into a circus? It stems more from a sense that the government still believe that Singaporeans are too immature to handle a free society. They believe that the majority of the voting electorade would still be unable to discern between political 'correct' information and untrue, baseless claims. And in this context, the government believe that the opposition, manipulative as they are, would use it to their advantage and spread allegations that are untrue about the present dealings in the government. That the voters would be swayed by these allegations is indeed a folly on the part of the government as definately years of education in where the candidates for 'O' and 'A' level do better than the previous cohort and the rising number of tertiary educated individuals would beg to differ.

The opposition may seem to be crafty and obnoxious to the government but in all respect, that is their job. If their job is not to oppose but to agree and promote government policies then they are not doing their job as the opposition well. Their job is to dig and to find flaws in this supposeded well run government. And if indeed what they found are untrue and false, the government has every right to rebut. Of course, the electorade can then see for themselves whom is correct and who is to be believed. That should be the spirit of the elections. It's the people that determine the outcome because they are given the power to choose.

Thus, with the internet it in fact opens up more space for discussion and information about the contesting parties. Relying solely on the basis of media analysis would be to only accept information from one source. The electorade then cannot confirm if all the information from the source is indeed credible or not. Allowing various avenues to be opened would only enable the electorade to be better informed and only then can they execute their vote to the best of their ability.

If indeed the government is good enough, they would be no doubt that they would be returned to power again. It is highly doubtful that Singaporeans would be naive enough to vote misfits as their leaders. After all, it is the highly coveted parliament house we are talking about and not some Singapore Idol contest. To deemed that the electorade would be manipulated on the internet to vote for the wrong person would be a folly on the part of the government. If there is no confidence in the people to vote the right person, why have the elections in the first place?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Opposition should get a life. They have no future in Singapore