Friday, May 13, 2005

Open Society, Singapore?

Open society, Singapore?

It was like only yesterday that the touching speech given by PM Lee HL rung in our heads, about the need to have an “INCLUSIVE” society. The young Singaporeans were urged to take “OWNERSHIP” of this land and that we need “DIVERSITY” of views. Let the hundred flowers blossom! I nearly believed when PM Lee HL urged Singaporeans to step forward, to participate in the political process or be socially and politically active by setting up civic and civil societies. But later on, I realized that PAP has slowly shifted from that position, talking about stepping forward to join PAP, nothing about opposition politics or Singapore politics as a whole. Well, so much for political inclusiveness, I thought.

But that is not all. There are recent sagas of Mr. Chen being threaten of lawsuit by ASTAR for his blogging activity and Martyn See being called up for investigation of his part on producing a documentary on Dr. Chee’s political path.

Mr. Chen has since published the apology and hoping that it will end just there. But what ASTAR has done have far more implications on Singapore than anyone else could imagine. I have not read what Mr. Chen has written in his blog but those who have read, said that they find nothing offensive in his articles. Most importantly, ASTAR did not specifically state which articles are offensive but requested Mr. Chen to withdraw ALL the content on his blog! This issue has caught the attention of a wide international audience and ever since, a couple of international organizations have issued press releases on this issue. It has reaffirmed the impression that in Singapore, the government is quick to use the threat of libel lawsuit to silence its critics. I would understand the need of any organization to protect its reputation but to force its critics to shut up, take down the whole blog without telling them which particular articles are libelous or offensive to them, is just too unfair. It just demonstrates that ASTAR is only interested in shutting its critics up with the slightest opportunity available. It is not about which articles are offensive to it anymore. However, ASTAR must realize that what it has done exerts a cost on Singapore’s international reputation as well as its own standing. ASTAR is an organization that provides human resource management service to our civil service. It sources for the best talents locally as well as from other countries to provide them scholarships to groom them. Ultimately, these scholars are channeled to other government sponsored research institutes. Its intolerance of diversity of views would make those potential scholars think twice before they would want to take up the scholarship. This would have wide implications on Singapore on the whole.

One may just take ASTAR’s incident as a separate one as it is run independently by a group of civil servants. What it has done may not reflect what PM Lee’s administration stands for. However, the clamp down on Martyn See could not be disassociated from PM Lee’s administration totally. Martyn has produced a simple historical documentary of Dr. Chee’s political brushes with PAP. If there is anything “political” about, it must be the opposition individual featured that make it political. However, the recent features done on a few ministers in C.N.A.’s UP CLOSE could also be considered as “political films” as well! The only difference is that it is “approved” by the PAP government and it has been written into law that anything approved by the minister could be exempted from the Films Act. If the PAP government under PM Lee Hsien Loong really cares about “diversity” of views/expressions, social-political activism or “inclusiveness” of its policies, such things won’t have happened. What we see here is how PAP government trying to intimidate social-political activists that have openly shown interests in oppositionists or opposition politics. This is what “inclusive” society all about?

Goh Meng Seng


Anonymous said...

Alamak your are so so blur to take the PM's words seriously. When he said "OPEN"....he means "OPEN" casino, "OPEN" to even more foreigners talent, "OPEN" for more bartop dancing, "OPEN" for more gays in civil service ...

For the opposition, you are more "OPEN" now to defamation lawsuits and the Singapore jail is more "OPEN" for you.

Anonymous said...

Hello Madcow.

Nice to see you around. ;)


Anonymous said...

Blogger tips:

You're new. You need to get yourself better known. Visit other Singapore blogs, post comments. People get curious. They'll click on your name and come here. If they like what they see, they'll create a link on their own blogs, to your blog.

Then their own visitors will see the link, and some will click and try you out. If they find your site interesting, they'll again add you to their own blogroll.

It's an exponential thing. A chain effect. Try it - it's fun. More fun than YPAP Forum. ;)

- Stray_Cat

Anonymous said...

"Most importantly, ASTAR did not specifically state which articles are offensive but requested Mr. Chen to withdraw ALL the content on his blog!"
Get your facts right first :) A*Star requested for removal of all defamatory posts, not the whole blog. It was only because it was untenable to hunt down *every mention* of these remarks that the blog was eventually taken down.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear Stray Cat,

Thanks for the tips! I am still new to blogging. ;)

Please come here often. I will try to get this updated more often.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear Anonymous,

ASTAR may "request" Mr. Chen to "remove all defamatory posts" but did ASTAR specify which of Mr. Chen's postings are defamatory? As you have said yourself, they didn't, so where is the "inaccuracy"?

When you want to sue someone for defamation, you need to point out specifically which words, which phrase, which articles are defamatory. You don't give "vague" instructions or "threat" to those who have offended you.

Goh Meng Seng

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

When A*Star requested for removal of all defamatory posts without specifying which post, it is as good as asking Mr Chen to close his blog.

Technically, this is simply another way of saying "close your blog", albeit a smart way :)


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