As a so called “First-World” country, the state of Singapore’s media freedom is laughable. According to Reporters Sans Frontieres, we are ranked 149th this year, in between Russia (148th) and Iraq (150th). Come June this year, Singapore will see further regulations to control online journalism and media. According to a press release by Media Authority Development (MDA), websites that regularly publishes articles on local affairs with traffic of 50,000 unique visitors each month, will need to be individually licensed by MDA under the new licensing framework. In addition, there will be a security bond of SGD$ 50, 000. This new licensing framework, once enforced, gives MDA the greater authority to call upon any sites to remove any content within 24 hours upon notification.
Based on personal observations, this comes in the wake of an increase in online media through news sites like The Online Citizen, Publichouse.Sg and other socio-political blogs that post critical opinions and analysis of governmental policies, as well as a decrease in faith with the mainstream media’s ability to publish news and opinions with impartiality. Basically, more individuals are going online, reporting on a wide array of issues ranging from social causes to daily incidents (e.g., an employer abusing an employee), which have made the online platforms a place for numerous discussions that have been highly lacking in our society till recent years. As a result, people generally become more open to think in contrary to the status quo and this is a threat to the political survival of the ruling party.
In an interview with Channel News Asia, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said “I don’t see this as a clamping down, if anything, it is regularising what is already happening on the Internet and (making sure) that they are on par with our mainstream media.”
Now perhaps Dr Yaacob needs to be reminded that we do not need any more members in the propaganda machinery to continue dumbing this society down. The online platform needs no regulation and in order for a society to mature intellectually and politically, members of that society must be exposed to a wide variety of opinions that are both pro and against governmental policies, discussions and organic news from the ground as opposed to sanitised and state approved articles and publications. Bloggers and the online media NEED NOT lower themselves to achieve the lacklustre and sanitised standards of mainstream media. And in contrary to what Dr Yaacob claimed to believe in, I personally think that this is part of the process to control the contents that are available on the internet. In fact, this move by the MDA serves as an act to curtail our freedom of information, opinions and expression while at the same time, ensuring that Singapore will never be filled with independent media unaffiliated with the government or its propaganda machinery.
The internet community is not really ignorant about the whole intention and I suggest that MDA and Dr Yaacob should just blatantly admit it.
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