01 June 2006

Boon Yang's Speech

Boon Yang made a speech and the Straits Times reported it at length. Pardon me - I'm going to zoom straight to the relevant part for me:
Straits Times, June 1, 2006
Bak Chor Mee was a clever and funny work. But...
Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, explained the Government's approach towards regulating the Internet in a speech at the annual PR Academy Conference yesterday. This is an excerpt from his speech.

....... A few of these blogs postings and podcasts became instant classics. An example is the Bak Chor Mee podcast by Mr Brown. I must congratulate Mr Brown who is present today for his clever and funny work. A friend sent it to me in the middle of my contest. I enjoyed it too and had a good laugh. However, my assessment is that this is symptomatic of the nature of the Internet. The root issue which was parodied in the podcast was actually a serious issue of intention and integrity. So, while podcasts can be very entertaining, it would be dangerous if important decisions such as electing representatives to Parliament were based on which side can make the most funny video or podcast.

It is good to have a sense of humour but we must take care not to allow humour or satire to mask the key issues. The bottom line is that a sense of humour is necessary but, more importantly, we must remember that elections and choice of leaders for the country are serious matters. Elections are certainly not laughing matters.

Boon Yang missed the point. Deliberately or not, I leave you to decide.

Against the Singapore government, humour is a key defence. Jack Neo used it in movies like "I Not Stupid". Mr Brown used the same defence in his Bak Chor Mee podcast.

The Singapore government would look ridiculous to the whole world if it took legal action against the likes of Jack Neo or Mr Brown. There is too much reputational risk involved in destroying comedians.

That is what both Jack Neo and Mr Brown are counting on, anyway.

Why do you think Mr Brown made podcasts entitled "The Persistently Non-Political Podcasts"? Obviously, to make it too embarrassing for the government to prosecute him under the Parliamentary Elections Act for making political podcasts. For how can a political podcast be a political podcast if it is a persistently non-political podcast?

"I must admit one thing, Mr Wang.
You Not Stupid Either."


In a freer society, such defences would be less necessary. Mr Brown and Jack Neo could still opt for comedy, but they would also have more room to opt for more-serious commentary, if they wanted to.

Naturally, despite the restrictive nature of Singapore society, Mr Brown and Jack Neo are both talented enough not to allow comedy to detract from their underlying message. Only fools and non-Singaporeans could miss Jack Neo's social criticisms in his comedy "I Not Stupid".

And only fools and non-Singaporeans could fail to realise the underlying message of Mr Brown's Bak Chor Mee podcast.

Yes, Boon Yang, the issue being parodied was indeed the issue of intention and integrity. And whose intention and integrity was in question then? Don't ask me. Don't ask Mr Brown. Don't even ask James Gomez. If you still haven't got the point yet, you probably never will.

Or maybe you need to listen to the Bak Chor Mee podcast another ten times. And then it might just sink in.

60 comments:

whybegay said...

Against the Singapore government, humour is not a defence, it is simply seen as a weakness. Trying to be humourous simple erodes away the seriousness of the situation and one's intentions and puts doubt in the conscience of one's "work".

Tell you the truth, I don't watch Jack Neo films nor visit Mr Brown's webpage. I simply brand them as comedians fullstop. As Dr Lee Boon Yang said, Politics is definitely not a laughing matter.

The Singapore government will never take legal action against the likes of Comedians Jack Neo or Mr Brown because it would never take their comedian work seriously. It is as simple as that. Even I don't take their work seriously, I don't even think their comedy is relevant to Politics anyway. Just ask the common layman, who would take a joker to court to sue him?

People who take Politics seriously would never find it funny because simply, trying to make Politics seem like a laughing matter doesn't really reinforce one's integrity of the matter.

It only makes observers feel such Jokers are seriously going off point.

I will never take people who twist/satire facts seriously nor take people who forgot what they said/did due to poor memory seriously either.

In politics, even every word and fullstop in one's words matters, it is of the law.

The main hidden topic of the matter is, How can blur/humourous people be in the right capacity and capability of mind to serve in politics?

I quote,
"Mr Brown and Jack Neo could still opt for comedy, but they would also have more room to opt for more-serious commentary, if they wanted to."

I doubt they are able to, if they are always busy trying to find more clever ways to twist and satire serious facts to look as humour rather than to gain more coverage of the serious issues.

At the end of the day, no one takes Jokers who twist/satire facts seriously, nor blur people who have a bad memory.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I bet you think the animals in "Animal Farm" are very cute too.

whybegay said...

"Animal Farm" is a poorly written story based on an over-simplification of social matters, and on a lack of understanding of underlying reasons. Of course I don't take much to it nor its characters.

eileen said...

"In a freer society, such defences would be less necessary. Mr Brown and Jack Neo could still opt for comedy, but they would also have more room to opt for more-serious commentary, if they wanted to."

They might but would realise everyone only pays attention to their comedy. In a freer society, the jokes would be sharper, funnier and more persons could be lampooned without damage to onself.

*The Lunatic Fringe* said...

whybegay:

We seem to be "meeting" in Mr Wang's blog! :-)

You seem to be taking the PAP's position which is, if you want to comment/talk about politics, join a political party and get *involved*.

Let me pose a few questions:

Why must Jack Neo or Mr. Brown have to join a political party to make their opinions felt? Does not a citizen have a right to give his opinion. What's so wrong about having an opinion? Is there a "right" (PAP's) opinion vs "wrong" (Jack Neo's/Mr Brown's) because they use humour.

Why is it wrong for them to use humour as a means to present social commentary (and criticism) in a politically palatable way? You'd prefer they be Martyn See and put up political films and get harassed by the Police?

The beauty of the Mee Pok Man episode is that Mr Brown is using the analogy of the Mee Pok Man incident to strip the issue to its core, i.e. do you think that forgetting to file a form and telling the elections officer that there will be consequences is akin to forgotting to tell Mee Pok Man you don't want pork liver in your noodles when Lopez claimed he did indicates conspiracy on Lopez's part? Humour is a way for people to take about serious issues in a palatable way

I take politics seriously (am joining one of the political parties that does not have the lightning symbol) and find Mr.Brown's humour (satire) critical to allowing us to examine the issues in its core without the fear, doubt and uncertainty planted by a one sided mainstream media.

You are entitled to see "humour" as dumbing down politics and no being relevant to politics but my view is that is makes politics accessible to the masses which is the whole idea of democracy.

[The main hidden topic of the matter is, How can blur/humourous people be in the right capacity and capability of mind to serve in politics?]

I still also do not see your point why you have to equate political commentary by bloggers to mean they must serve in politics either by being a MP or Minister?

[At the end of the day, no one takes Jokers who twist/satire facts seriously, nor blur people who have a bad memory]

The way you use the word "Jokers" has derogatory nuances. Mr. Brown is a humourous dare I say, satirist. Trust me, it is not a joke to have your podcast downloaded 30,000x within 1 week. Try coming up with your own "serious" podcast, if you get 3000 downloads (in 1 week) I will personally give you S$300 out of my progress package. If Mee Pok Man did not resonate with many people, I doubt it will reach 30,000 (or more! - we are not counting forwarding via email/peer-to-peer technologies)!

I am not sure why you also tag the adjective "blur" to Jack Neo or Mr. Brown. On the contrary, such satirical humour requires a level of maturity and intelligence to produce.

Check out the wikipedia definition of satire, and your opinions would gain more ground with people. :-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satire

Heavenly Sword said...

"I don't watch Jack Neo films nor visit Mr Brown's webpage. I simply brand them as comedians fullstop."

Jack Neo is a recent Cultural Medallion winner. That is the highest honour given by the Govt (not blogsphere) to local talent who makes extraordinary contributions to the cultural scene in Singapore.

Mr Brown jokes, but he is not a joker. Perhaps to be fair to him, you should conduct a survey to see how many Singaporeans actually think he is one. Otherwise, who would take a cyberspace name-caller seriously?

whybegay said...

To *The Lunatic Fringe*,

I believe you have misread what I wrote.

I quote,
"You seem to be taking the PAP's position which is, if you want to comment/talk about politics, join a political party and get *involved*."

Why then are you joining a political party yourself if you think otherwise to this "PAP's position?

I did not imply any of what you said in what I wrote. There is nothing wrong or taboo in having opinions outside the political arena, but at least take the "effort" and make oneself more accountable/reliable if one wishes to be taken seriously by anyone, and not just assume that other people are always at fault instead of self-checking oneself first.

There is nothing wrong to potray politics through humour but as fellow commentor eileen said,
"They might but would realise everyone only pays attention to their comedy."

I seriously do not think Mr Gomez was not in conspiracy of any kind. Any member of the public knows that there are CCTVs in any government building. He just had a bad memory and wanted to cover that up and of course any sensible "competition" would take advantage of this profitable loophole.

"Trust me, it is not a joke to have your podcast downloaded 30,000x within 1 week. Try coming up with your own "serious" podcast, if you get 3000 downloads (in 1 week) I will personally give you S$300 out of my progress package. If Mee Pok Man did not resonate with many people, I doubt it will reach 30,000 (or more!"

But as to which type of audience one is reaching out to remains to be seen. Is one reaching out to people serious about social issues or people who just wants a laugh of social issues? There is a huge difference.

I would cringe at the thought of people talking about serious politics and then joke and laugh about it.

There are always more effective ways for a person to examine the issues in its core, without having humour to always take it out of point. Why take a step backward if one wishes to move forward?

whybegay said...

To heavanly sword,

I did not do any name-calling, I actually view Mr Brown as a joker. I have this feeling that you are trying to infringe on my views and cultural tastes? It doesn't seem quite fair to me.

Also, I would rather attend violin concerts hosted by talented violinists from the local cultural scene than watch funny movies of any kind.

yh said...

whybegay,

would lee boon yang, a minister no less, be talking about mrbrown if they did not take him seriously?

you came to a conclusion without visiting the website nor watching the films?

you may not take it seriously but someone obviously does.

'Trying to be humourous simple erodes away the seriousness of the situation and one's intentions and puts doubt in the conscience of one's "work".'

dun think anyone is 'trying' to be humourous here. Watch the national day rally if you want to see someone do that.

Anonymous said...

mr. brown was the second site i was hooked on during ge06, the first one was yawning bread.

whether its serious or humourous, they serve one purpose, to give me another perspective that i do not get from the newspaper and tv.

i am thankful this information is easily accessible for otherwise, i will be bored to death with gomez hammering and upgrade bribery splattered all over the news.

Anonymous said...

"There are always more effective ways for a person to examine the issues in its core, without having humour to always take it out of point. Why take a step backward if one wishes to move forward? "

will be useful if u suggest other more effective ways...and just a question,whybegay:
what is your views on political cartoons then?they are quite funnily serious, u know.
eg. pat oliphant .does his humour erodes the underlying message as well when u read them.and for background info..i think we are only allow not too long ago to be able to draw caricatures of politicians here in singapore( but we can caricatures other country`s politican though...it must not be very funny..if the government had to restrict it..

whybegay said...

To yh,

"would lee boon yang, a minister no less, be talking about mrbrown if they did not take him seriously?

Dr Lee Boon Yang was refering to Mr Brown simple because he was explaining the Government's approach towards regulating the Internet.

"you came to a conclusion without visiting the website nor watching the films?"

Of course I have seen the website and the films, but without actually watching it wholesomely.

"dun think anyone is 'trying' to be humourous here. Watch the national day rally if you want to see someone do that."

I did exactly that and sorry to say, I found the humour when someone stood on the staircase of a rally stage without actually "being" on it. Sometimes humour can pose as "intelligent annoyance".

whybegay said...

To anonymous,

"will be useful if u suggest other more effective ways"

More effective ways for a person to examine the issues in their cores is very simple. It would be to read up more about relevant issues and think more about them.

My views on political cartoons is that they are not funny at all, take the case of the cartoons in finland. Making satires and twisting of real-life serious issues is really not humourous to me, I only view them as quite "sick", but it always would nevertheless appeal to a similarly likewise audience.

Anonymous said...

can someone ban whybegay??

obviously he is illogical and i think the only reason he is posting here is to advertise his site.

*The Lunatic Fringe* said...

To: whybegay

[Why then are you joining a political party yourself if you think otherwise to this "PAP's position?]

While I believe as citizens we can be active in discussing politics without getting involved in joining a party, I choose to get involved because I believe in being an active citizen in words, thoughts AND actions.

[I did not imply any of what you said in what I wrote. There is nothing wrong or taboo in having opinions outside the political arena, but at least take the "effort" and make oneself more accountable/reliable if one wishes to be taken seriously by anyone, and not just assume that other people are always at fault instead of self-checking oneself first.]

I still do not undertand what you mean by being "accountable and reliable", taking Mr Brown's podcast as an concrete discussion point, are you saying that if Mr. Brown should have come out and made clear his view that, "I disagree with Wong Kan Seng and the PAP's persecution of Gomez using the election forms incident because he has already apologised and moved on." If Mr Brown did that, he stood at risk to violate the very unclear boundaries set by Balaji and the Govt pertaining to political podcasts.

I think the crux of my disagreement with your views (and you are entitled to your views as they are posted here for the whole world to see) is that you downplay humour as an effective tool for defence by political commentators to comment on politics without getting censured or *gasp* threatened with legal ramifications.

You also do not seem to see that humour works on many levels. On the superficial Mr Bean level is physical comedy or humour. Mr Bean walks into lampost - hahaha... But elevated, humour can be more subtle and it starts taking the shape of parody, satire and irony. :-) i.e. Mee Pok Man podcast.

What makes human beings evolved is our ability to look at ourselves or even laugh at ourselves sometimes as human beings are imperfect and make mistakes all the time. The fallacy PAP demonstrates time and again is their refrains and claims about general infallibility, i.e. they are RIGHT, and THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE (view/opinion/way of doing/looking at things). Oh yes, PAP will admit to one or two bad hats but if you observe how it is reported, their Teh Cheang Wans, discounts given to Lee family in the HPL issues are downplayed against the backdrop of villfying the opposition for every single minor or major mistakes or errors they make.

The subtle or not-so-subtle use of humour by Mr. Brown pokes fun at how really you can take the view that Wong Kan Seng and PAP is right and Gomez's form stunt was a conspiracy vs. Mee Pok Man's version i.e. is it really that serious?

I for one already thought PAP had overdone the Gomez affair even before the Mee Pok Man podcast came out.

[I will never take people who twist/satire facts seriously nor take people who forgot what they said/did due to poor memory seriously either.]

I am also curious on your definition of twist facts? Perhaps one of the glaring instances of fact twisting was the Straits Times not daring to print the word "fix" in their report of PM Lee Hsien Loong's speech during the rally at Fullerton. If more people had read that Mr. Lee actually said that he will "fix" the opposition, I wonder what the impact on voters would be. We will never know, will we, because the report has already been published in the Straits Times and forgotten by the masses. Hmmm, let's see if PM Lee Hsien Loong will ever allude to his speech again and will he become a person "...who forgot what they said/did due to poor memory .."

Only time will tell.

Matrix said...

Quoted from Dr Lee,
"I must congratulate Mr Brown who is present today for his clever and funny work. A friend sent it to me in the middle of my contest. I enjoyed it too and had a good laugh."

From whybegay,
"People who take Politics seriously would never find it funny because simply, trying to make Politics seem like a laughing matter doesn't really reinforce one's integrity of the matter."

Perhaps, whybegay is taking a satirical potshot at someone? and all of us have missed it?

amatu said...

Lol. Good one matrix.

whybegay said...

To *The Lunatic Fringe*, about the comparison between Mr Gomez and PM Lee, I don't believe Mr Gomez had properly apologised for the very serious error on his part(he actually did vocally threatened a government staff). While PM Lee did so for his little error of a "wrong choice of word" in one of his rallies, and with much more sincerity and truthfulness.

To matrix,

No, I was not taking a satirical potshot at Dr Lee Boon Yang, you simply misread and misinterpretated what I wrote.

Dr Lee said,
"I must congratulate Mr Brown who is present today for his clever and funny work. A friend sent it to me in the middle of my contest. I enjoyed it too and had a good laugh."

And I said,
"People who take Politics seriously would never find it funny because simply, trying to make Politics seem like a laughing matter doesn't really reinforce one's integrity of the matter."

There is a great difference between seeing Politics as a whole as being funny, and, to laugh at a "clever and funny" work. Sometimes people laugh at silly things as a release of the illogical facts present. But Politics is never just about being clever and funny is it? Sometimes, it involves clarity in what one thinks, reads and writes too.

whybegay said...

In case people did not get the point, allow me to repeat what Dr Lee said,

Dr Lee said,
"I must congratulate Mr Brown who is present today for his clever and funny work. A friend sent it to me in the middle of my contest. I enjoyed it too and had a good laugh."

The emphasis here are on the words "clever and funny" and "had a good laugh". We did not hear the words "I had a great insight" did we? No offence, but one figures where the "potshots" "are" actually directed at.

Dr Lee might have found Mr Brown's work as being funny but he obviously doesn't view Politics as such.

Matrix said...

You know what, whybegay, I think you are right. If I rephrase the sentence:

"I must congratulate Whybegay who is present today for his clever and funny comments. A friend sent it to me in the middle of my day. I enjoyed it too and had a good laugh."

Your interpretation is exactly what I meant in my sentence.

Matrix said...

I apologises to Mr Wang for wasting comment space, but I just couldn't help myself.

Mezzo said...

I don't quite see why there seems to be the implicit assumption that humour because it is humourous, is somehow untruthful. After all, there is the role of the court jester as the only one who could mock the king, and in doing so, was the only one who could speak the truth.

Not to mention that Jon Stewart's The Daily Show on Comedy central was cited as a popular choice for political news during the US elections.

I think they're worried because humour travels faster and touches more people than a serious political commentary does. After all, more people read Rockson than Mr Wang. (No offence, Mr Wang - and please blog about the IPS forum! $150 to attend - OUCH)

Anonymous said...

Actually, Lee Boon Yang is right. The Bak Chor Mee podcast IS "symptomatic of the nature of the internet" - freewheeling, unapologetic and highly accessible. And we all know our First World government views this thing called "freedom of expression".

"it would be dangerous if important decisions such as electing representatives to Parliament were based on which side can make the most funny video or podcast"
It could actually be funny if he's trying to rib Mr Brown fans here, but I think the Minister is taking it very seriously that a potentially "dangerous" number of Singaporeans might actually vote in parliamentarians based on how amateur internet podcasts/videos present these candidates... (translation: singaporeans are stupid and easily misled)

"It is good to have a sense of humour but..."
Always, always remember to vote for the PAP, and read the Straits Times everday, for it is a reliable source of news and information.

Jeremy said...

"Elections are certainly not laughing matters," claims Minister-soon-to-be-out Lee Boon Yang. But what happens when the electoral candidates are clowns? We can't laugh, so we cry? Actually, we should be crying, since they are paid handsomely out of our taxes. Example of PAP clown: "Before I joined the grassroots organization, I didn't realise there were poor people in developed countries."

Anonymous said...

"... I found the humour when someone stood on the staircase of a rally stage without actually "being" on it."

Yes. That's as funny as being inside a polling station without being "within 200 metres" of it.

whybegay said...

The oneset of satire political blogs that people can't separate from humour than facing reality. A sickness of escapism and denial.

Anonymous said...

Real life must be pretty sad for you then. Because your idea of real life is that it can't have humour.

Jenny said...

"..read the Straits Times everday, for it is a reliable source of news and information."
Now, that's really funny!!

whybegay said...

There are always loopholes in Law or in anything that one can always use to their advantage, its nothing new really, any smart and resourceful person knows this, and its what resourceful people use to become resourceful.

Anonymous said,
"Because your idea of real life is that it can't have humour."

No, its an incorrect interpretation of what I meant. I meant humour does not mix with facing the reality of life. Real life can have humour, but mix humour with real life and people will treat you no more than a clown, its what I have been emphasizing all this while.

(Can I request readers to actually read and interpret carefully instead of just assuming anything that comes to mind? Thank you.)

whybegay said...

"Anonymous said,
Real life must be pretty sad for you then."

And no just to clarify, real life is not sad, its a truely wonderful life for me.

Anonymous said...

WhybGay:
"There are always loopholes in Law or in anything that one can always use to their advantage, its nothing new really, any smart and resourceful person knows this, and its what resourceful people use to become resourceful."

The best part of it is that the person who twisted the ordinary intepretation of what constitutes within 500m was an AG and is now our Chief Justice.

Should we cry or should we laugh?

whybegay said...

Even the law cannot enforce everything, otherwise people who still smoke at bus stops and daredevil jaywalkers of Orchard road would all be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Even if there is a law that restricts people/cavemen to talk on their handphones in libraries, I bet it would not be well enforced.

Laws and rules are just basic guidelines set for the general people to follow, unless the offence is truely serious and greatly threatens oneself and others, why would a person make life difficult for everyone? Usually the law gives a warning to first time offenders for non-serious offences.

Elizabeth said...

I think the reason why people here are unable to communicate their points across to "opposing" parties is because each has taken an extreme stand and has allowed for zero tolerance, in other words, the "I am 100% right, you are 100% wrong" attitude.

If only we could try to see each other's point of view, then perhaps we could go away more enlightened and enriched by others' perspectives and make truly informed choices. We have to be united as a nation regardless of who we support.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Tur Kua episode and also took the underlying message seriously - that the ruling party was really too high-handed.

That said, I am equally troubled by the fact that many have apparently been "blind" to the fact that Gomez, while he had not committed an unpardonable sin, had not satisfactorily answered for his oversight either, which might have been petty to insist on in normal everyday life, but rather grave in the context of an election.

Yes, it's is a matter of integrity. Simply brushing aside a mistake as insignificant is dangerous because as they say, little drops of water make a mighty ocean. If we continually overlook these seemingly small matters, eventually, we would be immune to accountability in what we do. Can we afford that in our (future) leaders?

I understand the "strategic" role that humour has played in this Tur Kua issue. Very clever indeed. But I am just as concerned that while the discerning may be able to catch the nuances intended, many may simply be carried away by the euphoric "Catch-Me-If-You-Can" drama and forget about the real issues underlying it.

SneeringTree said...

I think re: the funny blogs and films, the old adage really applies:

"It would be funnier if it isn't this true".

Endorphin Junkie said...

I tend to agree that there's nothing wrong with humour and satire in our political discourse. It simply helps more people associate the real underlying message through an easy-to-comprehend satire. If that in itself increases public knowledge and reduces the so-called political apathy, why can't that be a good thing?

To be fair to Jack Neo and Mr Brown, they choose humour as their medium cos it's really a safer medium to express their views. These are people with a family to take care and day jobs to fulfil. You can't expect them to risk pushing these unclear OB markers and get themselves thrown into jail for seditious remarks.

This really illustrates the plight of Singapore's political discourse. The govt really wants to limit such discourse to those it deems as responsible, and yet the result of it is that people who really have valid points to raised hold back.

ejl said...

i think humour is a very effective way of being critical of politics, society and everything else in between.

look at stephen colbert and his 'speech' at the white house correspondent's association dinner. very funny, and also totally on point.

just because someone uses humour doesn't mean that they think any less of the issue at hand. in fact, they probably have a better grasp of the problem, which is why they can mock the policy makers without being insulting.

Anonymous said...

whybegay wrote: "At the end of the day, no one takes Jokers who twist/satire facts seriously, nor blur people who have a bad memory. "

Aye, I never thought Mark Twain was a Joker too. Not to mention one of the biggest Jokers in American histroy. :)

simplesandra said...

Contrary to what Boon Yang (and people like whybegay) think, you can't write good satire unless you really understand the issue at hand, so much so that you can actually see the funnier side of it.

A good political satire makes you laugh; then when you think about it again, it's anything but a laughing matter. :)

*The Lunatic Fringe* said...

To whybegay:

Just how *old* are you?

I'd say 17?

:-)))

feeblechicken said...

Mr Lee is just reiterating the image of our government: the authoritarian parent afraid that their kids would go astray. We are good impressionable kids who might not take jokes for what they are. We would be led astray if there was no control over the media. Why do they think we have the intellect of children or poor uneducated peasants? Wait. Children and poor uneducated peasants may have better judgement than what he ascribes. His defence insults the intellect of people. Those who agree with him are probably being somewhat egostistical, thinking that the average man next door might have the intellect he is describing.. Sorry for spouting, but it is frustrating when THEY talk like this.

Czure said...

It's not me but evolutionary scientists (who are possibly a little less credible in some circles) who hypothesised that the purpose of humour is to cancel out the unpleasantness caused by confronting evidence that undermines our existing belief systems. If someone lacked a sense of humour, we would expect that person to have difficulty abandoning their existing belief systems, even when presented with very strong evidence against them.
And the "wrong sort of humour" could threaten the group's belief system.

Does that ring some bells?
Maybe Mr Brown is the little boy who pointed out that the emperor was not wearing clothes.

Mr Wang Says So said...

WhyBeGay said:

"There are always loopholes in Law or in anything that one can always use to their advantage, its nothing new really, any smart and resourceful person knows this, and its what resourceful people use to become resourceful."

--

The above statement is prima facie defamatory - construed in the full context, it means that Mr Brown is not smart and not resourceful.

If Mr Brown had the same mindset as certain PAP politicians have against the Opposition, then Mr Brown would be in a position to sue you, and try to make you bankrupt.

This is an example of how easily it is to run afoul of the strict letter of the law.

Now are you so sure that it is so easy for a blogger to really stay free of legal troubles, if Someone was really out to get him?

Mei Ling said...

Elizabeth said "Simply brushing aside a mistake as insignificant is dangerous". True, but dangerous for who? Do you honestly imagine, in your heart of hearts, that the "fix the opposition" and "buy supporters votes" remark was a mistake made in the heat of the elections? And, to quote Elizabeth again, "Can we afford that in our (present and future) leaders?"

whybegay said...

czure said,
"It's not me but evolutionary scientists (who are possibly a little less credible in some circles) who hypothesised that the purpose of humour is to cancel out the unpleasantness caused by confronting evidence that undermines our existing belief systems."

I would like to think that using humour emotions such as laughter that is caused by the mind's lack of ability or unwillingness(superiority complex) to accept or process certain sensory data, that led to a carthartic release such as humourous laughter. Which is to say that unprocessed neural impulses leads to the release of emotions.

Mr Wang said,
"The above statement is prima facie defamatory - construed in the full context, it means that Mr Brown is not smart and not resourceful."

You mean if I comment about the Law I am automatically defaming people? Woah, that's like a law student sueing his own law teacher who said that he could have done better in his class performance. That's like so pro. In that case, Singapore students would have a field day against teachers who don't teacher but only complain.

The statement is not prima facie defamatory, it is not construed in the full context, and I never imply that "Mr Brown" is not smart and not resourceful, but you who suggested it, which means Mr Brown or anyone concern can take you to court for defamation.

"If Mr Brown had the same mindset as certain PAP politicians have against the Opposition, then Mr Brown would be in a position to sue you, and try to make you bankrupt."

This would be like the PAP sueing Mr Brown for making his non-political podcast, and me counter-sueing Mr Brown for specifically trying to promote social inharmony and trying to defame "my" government. Of course I'm only kidding.

whybegay said...

And the weird thing is that I feel comedians have already sucessfully self-defamed themselves when they mixed politics with their humour. Would they sue themselves for self-defamation and people who try to defame them? Comedians being serious? It's actually a very good joke.

Mr Wang Says So said...

You still don't understand my point, do you.

JBJ was sued for waving a piece of paper (a police report about the PAP) to the election crowd.

Technically, the legal decision IS actually correct.

Gomez was warned by the police for committing the offence of criminal intimidation.

Technically, he DID commit the offence.

Mr Wang now says: "WhyBeGay, I want to slap your face for being stupid."

There. Mr Wang is also technically guilty of an offence of criminal intimidation.

The point is - you will not be able to get Mr Wang in trouble for that. The human elements throughout the legal system will obstruct you. For example, if you print out this page and you go to the police station to make a police report against Mr Wang, the police officer will laugh at you and say, "Go away, lah, I'm very busy, don't waste my time with these stupid things."

But the police officer won't be able to say: ""Go away, lah, I'm very busy, don't waste my time with these stupid things", if the person making the police report is a PAP minister.

There is a lot of human common sense in social systems to sort things out. But when too much power is concentrated in the hands of a few individuals, those individuals will be able to override the common sense in the social system.

---

Incidentally, yes, many negative statements that teachers make about their students would probably be defamatory in nature. For that matter, many negative statements that bosses make about their employeers would also be defamatory in nature.

The reason why defamation suits don't occur out of those kinds of incidents is that neither the student nor the employee has sufficient incentive to do so. But if an Opposition candidate or a persistent blogger keeps on making negative statements about a public figure such as a PAP minister, you can see why there would be incentive to do so. Don't you?

whybegay said...

Mr Wang said,
"The point is - you will not be able to get Mr Wang in trouble for that."

Don't be paranoid I think you are over-protective and worry too much, I have better things to do than go to court, cause I said,
"Of course I'm only kidding."

Anonymous said...

Quote SimpleSandra - Contrary to what Boon Yang (and people like whybegay) think, you can't write good satire unless you really understand the issue at hand, so much so that you can actually see the funnier side of it.

A good political satire makes you laugh; then when you think about it again, it's anything but a laughing matter. :)

Now thats hitting the nail on its head!

True understanding of a matter is in the simple way you are able to deliver it In the matter of Mr. Brown, thats equal to enlightenment, coz of its added humour in the simple way it was delivered.

Quote whybegay - The Singapore government will never take legal action against the likes of Comedians Jack Neo or Mr Brown because it would never take their comedian work seriously.

Now, wont it be 'amusing' and 'entertaining' if that happen? Somebody play that song 'Send in the Clowns in the not so usual attire of white' please.

Whybegay, your above statement totally rob the govt of any credit they already dont have.....IMO

PS- Mr Wang,

Thank so much for allowing anon posting which was not available sometime back... enjoyed your takes on issues!

Ron

Mr Wang Says So said...

Of course you wouldn't. And I hope by now, you understand that it's not quite so easy to comment seriously about politics in Singapore and yet be sure that you haven't broken some law somewhere.

In fact, you remind me of a previous discussion somewhere on this blog where I pointed out that technically, most of us have committed many crimes even if we have never been prosecuted. After all, all of these are crimes:

drove above the speed limit / drank a little alcohol, then drove / smacked your dog for being naughty / smacked your child for being naughty / littered / took a little "free" office stationery home /
didn't declare bank interest in your income tax form / jaywalked / downloaded porn / owned a pirated VCD / downloaded illegal music / used illegal software / cut & pasted Mr Wang's posts into your blog without asking for permission etc etc.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang,

So, in my haste and all the reading of blog comments and postings, leading to my posting that 'comment' here, I mistook your blog with KTM 'whom doesn't allow anon comments' =P

I hereby sincerely apologise for causing any confusion and distress to you and your readers....

And if I should cause a few laughs, please don't misinterpret that I am not at all sincere in my aplogy..

'sincerely yours'
Ron

redbean said...

'I will never take people who twist/satire facts seriously nor take people who forgot what they said/did due to poor memory seriously either.' quote whybegay.

would one take a person seriously if he suffers from amnesia?

i also post at www.redbeanforum.com

whybegay said...

Who in their right logical mind would smack their lovable dog and child? Don't they know there will be retribution for violent evil?

I advise such people to watch "Supernanny" on Arts Central Thursday and get anger management class.

Mr Wang Says So said...

On political humour - *ahem* Mr Wang has some of that himself. And yes, I do feel that some of those examples use humour to make strong, important points which aren't so easily conveyable in serious prose.

For some of the better examples, check out the funny pictures / captions

here - on MP Denise Phua's ambitions to "manage" bloggers for being unbalanced:

here, - on the Workers Party strategy in Ang Mo Kio GRC:

here - on the close relationship between the "private" and public sectors in Singapore:

here - on the moral absurdity of one of our government's justifications for world-class ministerial salaries

here- on the lack of legitimacy of our Selected President (and incidentally, this post is the reason why Tan Sai Siong dislikes me)

Etc ...

Mezzo said...

Dear Mr Wang:

Would you mind if I clipped something from your comments here and posted it in my own blog, for my own reference? I'd credit you and everything - I just liked the clarity of expression, and I would like to be able to refer to it in my frequent moments of frustrated stuttering.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Go ahead, Mezzo.

Anonymous said...

Bak Chor Mee for PAP is MILD compared to what the Bush Administration got from Jon Steward.

Grow up and get used to more 'nail on the head' political satire, pappy dogs. Verbal caricature is oh so much fun.

Oh, and to hell with the 'light touch'. Take your dirty hands - I mean paws, off restricting dissent on the Internet.

P.S: Lee Boon Yang, you're still a moron with your comments on satellite tv and tv license fees. With all due respect, you should STFU, and shut up publicly - for good. Or we'll do the silencing ourselves. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Anonymous said...

I believe we fall into two camps here?

1. Humor aids to deliver a point, a message or an issue. People in general, from professionals to blue collars, retirees to house-keepers can understand.

2. Humor played down the seriousness and accountability of an incident, especially in the light of national issues.

But isn't this the beauty and complications of Democracy? Democaracy for what I understand is not lukewarm. If we are as democratic as stated in our pledge, then trust the people to make the right choice (personally i felt the leading party is not trusting so).

Since government declare us as a democractic nation, I trust we have the ability to make / own responsible perception. All I ask is for this accountability to be owned by indivuduals such as i.e. bloggers, READERS, citizens etc.

Wei Peng

elizabeth said...

Mei Ling said, "Dangerous for who?"
For everyone who does not go beyond the superfical and look at the underlying message, just like what you have done to mine. What is the topic of discussion? What is the gist of my post?

Would appreciate that you do not quote me out of context. We are discussing the use of humor in politics and Gomez happens to be the centre of a controversy that sparked the debate. His foul-up was used as an example to explain the dangers of brushing aside seemingly insignificant matters. Does that mean I am condoning the "fixing" booboo?

Am I totally wrong in expressing my reservations about Gomez? Perhaps only to those who have zero tolerance for others' opinions. Does it warrant you hastily accusing me of condoning apparently similar acts by the PM? Only when you are out to find fault for the sake of finding fault.

But since you have raised the issue, I would ask in return, is that an equitable comparison? Did the PM accuse anybody of wrong doing and dish out threats before he realized his own mistake? Someone else definitely did.

And if I had instead criticized the PM over the “fixing” episode (which would have been odd, in the context of this discussion about humor in politics), would you have readily jumped in with Gomez’s foul-up? Judging from the stance of your post, probably not.

Anonymous said...

He sounds as if PAP was merciful and let Singaporeans off the hook......and Singaporeans should be grateful to PAP and vote PAP the next time....

In the first place, what is there to be merciful about?

1) PAP was not suppose to control the Internet in the first place....because they cannot unless they budget millions of taxpayers dollars to hire an army of employees to monitor the internet everyday.

2) the bloggers/internet community did not commit a crime...crime as in socially unacceptable crimes like murder,rapes, robbery etc... all they did the most was post nasty anti-PAP comments.....anything anti-PAP is considered a crime?....lol....

neither is posting anti-PAP comments a wrong thing to do....in politics....nothing is really that black or white...since nobody did anything wrong....what action is there to take by the authorities ???...only posting pro-PAP comments is right?...lol...PAP learnt from North Korea...???

3) PAP has no cause to let anybody off the hook....because they got no case in the first place as no one has committed a crime...full stop....

4) I feel Lee Boon Yang's statement is a face-saving statement for PAP because in this election, the internet community has thoroughly embarassed PAP and expose PAP's high-handed tactics to the unthinking majority.....and make PAP look bad and wrong....

5) This statement changes everything and has put PAP in the position whereby PAP is right and internet was wrong but PAP was merciful and let the internet community off so the internet community better be grateful to PAP....what the fuck???

6) There is nothing to be grateful about and the internet community should just continue its fine work.....

7) do not let PAP use the methods they use for mainstream media on the internet....or we will never see light again nor have the chance to reverse the situation......

Anonymous said...

Wow, this "whybegay" clown damn funny. I think he was trying to sound serious. I laughed at him at first but later, I cried for him.

As usual, the PAP misses one big underlying fact about politics - it is about people. Yes, the ordinary folks without the law degrees etc, folks who laugh at the podcast, yet able to understand the message. I translated it to my mother of 60. Yep, she laughed and commented that MB should have it dubbed in mandarin too. She thought the government had gone too far.

The world would have rejoiced if LBY had simply accepted that the new media is to stay and in fact, is good as it will allow the ruling party to listen and do better. Aren't they always harping that Singaporeans are not giving enough feedback?

To me, all the PAP ministers are like 相声 entertainers too. They make you laugh while looking very serious.