Impact of Internet on General Election likely to be studied after polls
SINGAPORE : The impact of the Internet at this General Election is likely to be looked at by the relevant ministry after the polls.
Information Communications and the Arts Minister Dr Lee Boon Yang said this is to assess the scale at which the new media, like blogs and podcasts, were used to influence views and shape opinions.
As Mr Wang says, "Okay, here it comes."
To counter the flimsy arguments to prevent bloggers posting entries about political issues, we can look to international law where Singapore is a signatory, to consider how the blogosphere should respond proactively to an expected ban on blogging and the invitation of selected bloggers to sign up as political websites.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Singapore is a signatory)
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 25:
Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:
1. To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;
2. To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors;
3. To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country.
In 1996 we have the General Comment No. 25: The right to participate in public affairs, voting rights and the right of equal access to public service (Art. 25) : 12/07/96.
Again, a UN document, adopted by the committee at its 1510th meeting (fiftyseventh session) on 12 July 1996.
8. Citizens also take part in the conduct of public affairs by exerting influence through public debate and dialogue with their representatives or through their capacity to organize themselves. This participation is supported by ensuring freedom of expression, assembly and association.
25. In order to ensure the full enjoyment of rights protected by article 25, the free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens, candidates and elected representatives is essential. This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censorship or restraint and to inform public opinion. It requires the full enjoyment and respect for the rights guaranteed in articles 19, 21 and 22 of the Covenant, including freedom to engage in political activity individually or through political parties and other organizations, freedom to debate public affairs, to hold peaceful demonstrations and meetings, to criticize and oppose, to publish political material, to campaign for election and to advertise political ideas.
Your turn, Dr Lee Boon Yang and your relevant ministry.