SINGAPORE: Censors gunning for blogging servicemen
Sunday Times reveal government now requires bloggers to gain clearance to post entries on military life
South Morning China Post
Monday, November 21, 2005
Singapore has barred servicemen from posting unauthorised accounts and pictures of military life on the internet in a further tightening of restrictions on the growing blogging community.
The new rules, made public by The Sunday Times, followed the conviction of two ethnic Chinese bloggers for posting anti-Muslim tirades deemed as threats to social harmony and political stability in the multiracial city state.
The newspaper said at least three national servicemen, including one of Singapore's most popular bloggers, were told by the Ministry of Defence and military officers to take down personal postings about army life overseas.
Such blogs now require official clearance before being posted.
Businessman Benjamin Lee -- better known locally as blogger "Mr. Miyagi" -- had posted 100 pictures featuring fellow soldiers queueing in a canteen, sleeping in a tent or resting in an armoured vehicle during a three-week exercise in the northern Australian state of Queensland.
Another, who uses the nickname "askgerard," posted about 25 pictures, while a third blogger sporting the nickname "stupidgenius" wrote about an incident in which a tank overturned, according to the newspaper.
Because of its compact land area, Singapore holds military exercises in Australia, the US and other countries. Two years of military training is mandatory for all able-bodied Singaporean men from the age of 18, with refresher exercises continuing until they are in their 30s.
Defence ministry spokesman Benedict Lim was quoted by the newspaper as saying that "we encourage our servicemen to share their experiences" in order to boost camaraderie, but "we have to be mindful of the need for information security."
Blogging, boosted by the popularity of digital cameras and camera-equipped phones, is one of the few avenues for free expression in Singapore, whose mainstream media usually stick to the government line.
But the authorities have made it clear internet postings are being closely monitored and subject to traditional laws.
In a landmark ruling last month, two men became the first bloggers in Singapore to be punished under the Sedition Act, which dates back to the British colonial era.
Date Posted: 11/21/2005