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4/23/2006

the dearth of internet discussion on the election

On the front page of today's Sunday Times, Hsien Loong is quoted to say this: 'The signal we want to send to the electorate is we want you to speak and debate, we want a good election in which the issues are raised and joined and we discuss the serious matters which face Singapore, and we also discuss who is fit to govern Singapore. But this has to be discussion based on facts, based on logic, based on responsibility and if you say something, you answer for it.' Isn't this is what we have been doing or intending to do? Isn't the blogs and internet forums the most logical, effective and efficient way for such a discussion? You can't have a discussion on the phone, the newspaper or in the coffee shops. On tv, you would not be allocated the time. But sadly the blogs and forums are deserted. The Singaporeans are just too smart and too safe to want to walk around with their pants down. To the ordinary citizens, concerned citizens, what is there for them except to make their views heard. And for that, the sword of Damocles is dangling above their heads, waiting to do its deadly descent. With the Elections Act forbidding discussion on politics during the election period, unless registered, which many rightly refused, the next best thing is to stay away. Why court trouble? Would Li Ao say Singaporeans are smart or stupid now? The internet is techonology at its best for freedom of discussion for a big group of people, in the same platform at the same time. No interruption, no restriction, no censorship. WYSIWYG. Would the dearth of internet discussion on the general election be a testimony of what Singapore is or what Singaporean is? My reading may be right, if you read what Hsien Loong said in the above quote. He wants Singaporeans to speak up, exchange your views and thoughts, but seriously and responsibly. When the intention is not to be destructive, the discussion can be very useful and meaningful. But knowing the Singaporean mentality, for a sensible and robust discussion in cyberspace to take off, Boon Yang needs to come out and say it categorically that it is alright and no need to register. Singaporeans are not dumb and want to invite troubles to themselves. But in so doing, Singapore politics will never grow up and the people will forever be accused of being apathetic and apolitical. Which they are not. But what they are thinking and saying will now be confined to behind closed doors. And the ostrich will feel very safe as it sees nothing and hear nothing.

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