6 Apr 2006

Blogging during elections 2

Blogging during elections 2 which is a continuation of Blogging During Elections written in Jan 2006, by none other than Yawning Bread.

After two months simmering away in the blogosphere and making the occasional appearance in the mainstream press, the government finally addressed the question of political blogging.

It has clarified the situation somewhat, but on a closer analysis, not quite enough.

The clarification came on 3 April 2006, when Balaji Sadasivan responded to a parliamentary question by Low Thia Kiang, (Workers' Party, Hougang). This is the part of the reply pertaining to political blogging:

Private or individual bloggers can discuss politics. However, if they persistently propagate, promote or circulate political issues relating to Singapore, they are required to register with the MDA. During the election period, these registered persons will not be permitted to provide material online that constitutes election advertising.

-- MITA website ('MITA News') accessed 4 April 2006

For the text of Minister of State Balaji's reply, see Parliament questions about internet regulation

The MDA is the Media Development Authority, whose job is really that of censoring people rather than developing anything.

As you can see, after saying "bloggers can discuss politics" -- nobody ever said they couldn't outside of the election period -- the Minister of State for Information, Communication and the Arts qualified his comments almost immediately.

The first qualification was that if a website persistently propagates, promotes or circulates political issues, it has to be registered. As a sentence, this is very badly constructed. One never propagates, promotes or circulates "issues", but certain points of view. Because the sentence is badly constructed, its meaning is unclear.

It sounds as if a site that discusses political issues, even in an opinionated way, is not within the ambit of the sentence, but one is left unsure [1]. The MDA's website uses a slightly longer expression: "propagation, promotion or discussion of political or religious issues", yet Balaji dropped the word "discussion" from his Parliamentary statement.

This is confusing. Perhaps he means to be more liberal-minded now, but unless the MDA's own regulations are changed, which version are we to rely on?

Secondly, even if a site persistently propagates, promotes or circulates political issues -- whatever that means -- it still can do so, provided it is registered.

So what's the point of registration, you might ask? I don't think I can give you any answer that makes sense. See the section below 'Why register?'

to continue reading...

Related Links:
Singapore Ink also outlines certain issues with anonymity and responsibility.
And Mr Wang is in full flow.
Mr Wang is also conducting a Mini Project. Be careful though it was launched on April Fools Day.
Singapore Angle also manages to take a break from a ridiculously hectic schedule to discuss the matter.
Mr Miyagi explains to the uninitiated exactly what a podcast is and isn't for Today readers.


Anonymous said...


PAP, is this the best the PAP govt can do?

Dear SM Goh, it's time you put a stop to such a low-class electioneering tactic as UPGRADING.

Our lives involve more than just a new coat of paint, additional lifts, a landscaped walkway, or a swimming pool.

The PAP of older days had more "class" although I didnt like the defamation suits. But at least they had vision, and they refused - or should I say, tried hard to avoid - to play pork barrel politics. Today, the PAP has sunk so low, lack idealism, and has no new ideas.

Your upgrading policies are driving a wedge, a deep division, between the peoples of Singapore. Your attempt to win votes by using such tactics will cost Singapore dearly in the future.

You cannot turn back the march of time: Singaporeans DO want an alternative voice in Parliament. They dont want totalitarian rule, no matter how many bowls of rice it has delivered on the table. Even those who hold that PAP should still govern Singapore, also want an opposing voice in PArliament.

Don't deny us that need, please.

Please go back to "Go" and touch base with your soul. All of us, regardless of our political persuasion, are first and foremost Singaporeans. The government's treatment of its population must be based on that high principle - Singaporeans FIRST. Political association a far second if not last.

The government must uphold that principle. Not to do so will further shape Singaporeans to think their flat first, Singapore last. Are constituents in PAP wards first class citizens and those in oppo wards second class?

Your upgrading carrot may be good for your PAP, but will ultimately be destructive for Singapore as a nation.

Mr Goh, may I respectfully ask you: if a war should break out, do you not expect a soldier who votes for the opposition, to stay on the frontline and defend our little pigeonhole flats and your swanky & expensive property??? Or should the soldier's will to fight be based on whether he got his flat upgraded or not?

And if I relocate my shop to Hougang, may I pay less tax and no GST please? Afterall, you do not intend to spend any taxpayers' money on the precinct anyway so you dont need all that money.

These are pertinent questions, Mr Goh.

You want to win an election, win it fair and square, with dignity, based on your vision of how you can make Singapore a better place for Singaporeans first.

Win the election, if you can, based on what MORE you can do for Singapore, not what you can take away from the opposition.

Let pork barrel politics be the game of lesser men.

- peasantJUDGE
on Sammyboy Alfresco Coffeeshop Forum
28th March 2006

***pls show our support for all Singaporeans, regardless of race, language, religion, political beliefs or constituency. Sign the online petition against PAP govt using upgrading as an election carrot.

Anonymous said...

Mr Goh doesn't have a choice. He is following orders from little lee, who is too cowardly to take on potong pasir or hougang himself.

Anonymous said...

why register? the threat that if you discuss politics without registering, you can be prosecuted

similarly, after registering, if you do election related propagation during the election period, you can be prosecuted

Anonymous said...

Either way, they can go after anybody as they like. In fact, the one to be condemned is p**