Friday, July 31, 2009
New Media, Political flims, Open Society & Fair Play
I have posted a Chinese news article from Taiwan regarding FAIR PLAY in sportsmanship recently. The article is basically reporting on the Tug-of-War event held in Taiwan. During the finals, the Swiss team was contesting against the Taiwanese team. One member of the Taiwanese team suffered an injury and by the rule, the Swiss will have the advantage of contesting against the Taiwanese team with full strength.
However the Swiss team chose to have one member less in order to match the number of members in the Taiwanese team instead of taking advantage of the situation then. In the end, the Swiss team still won, not only the game but the glory of it. The article then compared the ugly side of Taiwanese politics to the spirit of fair play displayed by the Swiss team.
This article actually reminds me about our very own Singapore politics. Will we ever have the spirit of FAIR PLAY in Singapore? The Swiss team could well have go along the rules and take advantage still within the rule of fair play. But it took a further step in great sportsmanship by making sure that it allows its opponent to have a fair chance to the game.
Will we ever have "FAIR PLAY" in politics, particularly in Singapore's politics? I seriously doubt so. It is a well known fact that PAP controls all the machinery in Singapore, from the People's Association to the media. Even when it comes to setting the rules to the game, PAP will always have the upper hand.
For example, take a good look at the following screenshot:
This is taken from PAP's website which hosted the various videos produced by PAP. It clearly stated that this particular video has been uploaded to their webserver on 27 Jun 2008. But wait, the bill on the changes to political films and such was only passed in March 2009!
So it seems that PAP has long decided (at least 9 months in advance) that they are going to utilize internet video for their political cause and campaigning and they should know that they must amend the law before they could do that. Throughout the 9 whole months, they have been in preparation for this amendment, uploading quite a number of videos up to the internet.
But wait, according to their own old law, it is supposedly to be an offence to create or keep video, especially political videos, that have not sent to censor board! I now wonder whether these videos made prior to March 2009 have been sent to censorship board before they were uploaded to the webserver! I doubt they have the experience of going through the hassle of censorship board because recently they have demonstrated that they didn't know how long the censorship board will take to administer a censor on a political video.
There was once a big hoohaa over Martyn See's first political video "The Singapore Rebel" a few years back which was uploaded to the Youtube back then. If I remember correctly, the police was investigating on people having in their possession of this video cd which have not gone through the censorship board just yet.
Actually in my view, this is nothing big nor serious, really. The Film Act is basically an outdated piece of legislation which could only be applied to the past. Ever since video cameras are made easily available to mass consumption, the Film Act has become redundant immediately. It has been further made obsolete by the rapid growth of internet and webvideo applications. The only reason why the film act still exists is for political protection of PAP. But since PAP itself is going to utilize internet video applications to further its own political agenda, it is only natural that the Film Act will be changed or just tailor made to suit its own agenda.
A Good Video from Mr. Brown
But wait, we are talking about FAIRNESS here. Laws or even the Constitution should not be changed just to suit the agenda of the ruling party! In a true democracy, a consultation process that includes all political parties would be held to determine the best rules for the country.
To a great extend, the New Media has provided an effective equalizer to UNFAIR PRACTICES in politics world wide. It is going to be a world wide trend that politics in places like Singapore which POWERS are dominated and monopolized by a single ruling party will have their political playing fields leveled. It could even create a Tsunami effect because they are developing from a point of total control of mass media to a sudden liberalization of information flow via the New Media.
Whether such breaching of media control by the authoritarian regime in Singapore could translate into meaningful democratic development and progress is yet to be seen. But at the very least, we are leaning towards more Fair Play for once. PAP will still have an upper hand obviously, due to the great amount of resources it has on hand. It could even utilize video clips collected in our National Archives to be utilized as one of its political video (watch the video on 1963 Swearing in Ceremony) But the gap between PAP and opposition parties are at least shorten greatly.
However, in preparation for my party, NSP's, National Day Message video, I have met an unexpected incident. My volunteer who have promised to do the filming of this National Day Message has called up and declined to help suddenly. He told me that he was "warned" by somebody that he should not help us to make such video. He declined to mention how he was warned but said that this is different from his past involvement in filming NGO's events because this is for a POLITICAL PARTY (or rather an opposition party).
At the very instance when I heard that, I was quite upset. However I am determined to break this mindset and install the concept of FAIR PLAY in Singapore's political arena. I would respect my volunteer's decision to back off from helping us because he has a family to take care of. But such despicable intimidation is totally outrageous.
It just reminds me that no matter how "OPEN" the PAP claims it wants to be but the truth is, the FEAR element still exists and worse, perpetuate by some mindless people out there. After 44 years of Nation building under PAP's monopoly of power, our country and people are still stuck with a third world political mindset. We may not have built a strong National Identity but we definitely have one common trait, i.e. POLITICAL FEAR initiated and cultivated by PAP's four decades of autocratic rule. This is really the sad situation we are facing right now.
Goh Meng Seng