14 Feb 2007

Singapore's Democratic Discourse

The recent rather misguided admission by the Peoples Action Party that they comment anonymously in online forums and blogs in order to mount a 'counter-insurgency' against the perceived anti-establishment tone of the those of us who currently dominate the discourse on Singaporean politics, has led to some questioning of the current state of affairs of online discussion.

In an article published in 2001 by Lincoln Dahlberg an attempt to overcome such structural limitations as state intervention and corporate dominance is made. Dahlberg argues that there are three 'camps' or types of internet interaction that dominate the internet. A communitarian camp which stresses the enhancement of communal spirit and vlaues. The second camp, 'liberal individualist' which facilitates the expression of individual interests, and a third and as far as I am concerned the model that is lacking in the Singaporean discourse - a deliberative camp that promotes the internet as a means for expansion of a public sphere of rational-critical citizen discourse.

As the third camp is of interest here I will quickly outline the types of sites that fit into the first two camps before asking how online deliberative forums that extend the public sphere can be created in Singapore.

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