06 July 2006

RSF's Opinion

The article was dated 5th July 2006 (yesterday). Looks like RSF didn't need Mr Wang to tell them about this case - they already found out.
Singapore 5.07.2006
Government criticised for condemning “unconstructive” article

It is not the job of government officials to take a position on newspaper articles or blog posts unless they are clearly illegal, Reporters Without Borders pointed out today after the Singaporean newspaper Today published an opinion piece by an official on 3 July condemning a recent post by blogger Lee Kin Mun as over-politicised and unconstructive.

“This reaction from a Singaporean official is disturbing,” the press freedom organisation said. “It reads like a warning to all journalists and bloggers in a country in which the media are already strictly controlled. The media have a right to criticise the government’s actions and express political views. Furthermore, a newspaper’s editorial policies depend solely on its editors. They should under no circumstances be subject to instructions issued by the government.”

Lee, who uses the pseudonym “mr brown,” wrote an article entitled “S’poreans are fed, up with progress!” for Today’s opinion pages on 30 June in which he criticised recent government measures and the constant cost-of-living rises in an amusing and acerbic fashion.

Krishnasamy Bhavani, a press secretary to the ministry of information, communications and arts, responded with an article published in Today on 3 July in which she defended her government’s policies but went on to criticise Lee for taking a political position.

“It is not the role of journalists or newspapers in Singapore to champion issues, or campaign for or against the Government,” she wrote. “If a columnist presents himself as a non-political observer, while exploiting his access to the mass media to undermine the government’s standing with the electorate, then he is no longer a constructive critic, but a partisan player in politics.”

Lee is one of Singapore’s most popular bloggers. When the government banned political podcasts during the recent elections in April, the media largely took its cue from Lee’s position that, “Prison got no broadband,” in which he seemed to discourage bloggers from violating the new rules. But he nonetheless tested the authorities himself by posting a series of “persistently non-political podcasts” on his blog.

Reporters Without Borders was not able to reach Lee for a comment.
If you feel strongly about this matter and are concerned about its implications for the freedom of expression in Singapore, you may wish to consider speaking up now and sending an email to media organisations overseas, so that they can follow up on the story. For your convenience:

New Straits Times (Malaysia): news@nstp.com.my
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong): peter.dedi@scmp.com
Bangkok Post (Thailand): kowit@bangkokpost.co.th (editor's name is Kowit Sanandang)
News.Com.Au (Australia): newsroom@news.com.au
The Jakarta Post (Indonesia): http://www.thejakartapost.com/columns.asp

Remember to draw their attention to the RSF article above - they are likelier to detect the newsworthiness of this matter.

And the greater the number of you who write to these organisations, the likelier they are to realise that this is a significant matter.

Technorati: ; ; .


Anonymous said...

Hmm... Any link for the NZ press?

After the recent cock our junior lee talk to the NZ press about how Sinkapore do have and enjoy freedom in expression, perhaps they would be interested to know about the 'distortion of true' too. ;)

? said...

This is what happens when you try to use humour to infringe on the OT markers. I told you so, but no one wanted to listen.

Anonymous said...

Oops I am "whybegay", "Atlantis" is just one of my many pseudonyms and avatars.

Anonymous said...

Boing Boing has also picked up the news:


03S17 said...

Hi, I've written in to the various news organisations' emails you have put up.

This is actually the first time I took part in anything remotely resembling political activism, and one reason why I emailed them was because I had enough of the government's strong-arm tactics.

mrbrown, as you can see, is a loving family man. His column expresses much of what Singaporeans feel, and instead of strong-arming him, the government would do well to take his views in the proper light. But no, a letter was published attacking him for baseless reasons. Complaining about rising living costs is a common complaint across all countries of all citizens.

Enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

hooray! another few notches down the media ranking!

En and Hou said...

Yup, we're competing with North Korea! Let's celebrate! Big Brother is coming to town!


Anonymous said...

This would not have happen if PAP did not politicise everything deem to their advantage.

PAP should not politicise the media.

I mean it is like PAP have politicise everything including NDP.

But why the need to politicise?

Is controlling Singaporeans right down to the bone that important and advantageous to PAP? Nothing more is important to them?

This would not have happen if the media was not politicise. The determination by PAP to control all things is scary.

They want to control but refuse to be responsible or apologetic when things go wrong is even scarier.

All we ordinary people can do is vote Opposition in every election even if the Opposition loses. I cannot think of any other way to make PAP eat humble pie.

Then no one would have the need to feel fear,tension and paranoid in their own homeland.

PAP has to be Opposition for some time for Singapore's culture and climate to change, that is the only way.

My vote is nothing but many votes is something.Please do not forget today's lesson even if PAP loosen control come GE 2011.

Anonymous said...

I guess only PAP is right and citizens are wrong in these KIND of situation. These KIND of situation have repeated many times over the years.

What is more scarier is that PAP took the most popular blogger in Singapore to put on chopping block and use it to show as an example to everyone who wants to blog about politics. (Kai Dao: Open Knife)

It is a very good political move by PAP.It has increased the fear factor by many notches. We are back to the 70s & 80s again.

Most probably after this episode, there will be less activity on political blogs and Singaporeans will be apathetic again which PAP always 'advocates'.

Maybe Mr Brown might even fizzle out.

Anonymous said...

That is my real name. I'm not hesitant to post it because this is something I strongly believe in. An electorate should never fear a democratically-elected government, instead the government should fear the electorate. Remember that all of us, and Mr. Brown, too, are part of the electorate. "Undermine the government's standing with the electorate"? Whose fault is that? If criticism has been made of government policies, then those policies are not in at least one citizen's interest; it is then the RESPONSIBILITY of the government to remedy those policies. Remember that the FIRST PRIORITY of a democratically-elected government should be the well-being of its people. If it has not evaluated those policies in light of criticism, and provided a satisfactory response instead of outright condemnation of criticism, then is has already failed its first priority. This incident is extremely disappointing and has only further misplaced my already waning trust in the PAP.

Joseph Chiang said...

latest from the mda website:

"To ensure that the Media Development Authority’s (MDA) Class Licence regulatory framework remains relevant, the NIAC undertook a comprehensive review of the Class Licence Scheme, taking into account technological and market trends.

An area that the NIAC deliberated upon was the application of the Class Licence to blogs. The consensus was that blogs are no different from other types of content on websites. As the Class Licence already applies to blogs in the same way it does to all websites, the NIAC does not see the need to update the Class Licence to address any concerns about undesirable content carried on blogs.

It also noted that existing laws, peer pressure and blog community norms should continue to play an important role in dealing with individual private blogs that carry irresponsible or extreme views."

Anonymous said...

Minor typos...."If it has not evaluated those policies in light of criticism and provided a satisfactory response, but instead condemned outright the criticism, then it has already failed its first priority."

Anonymous said...

If mr brown has been deemed to have participated in partisan politics then we should start a campaign to pave a path to Parliament ... mr brown for NMP!

Anonymous said...

Isnt TODAY guilty of politicization of the issue and being partisan by dropping Mr Brown?

I mean Mr Brown gave some private opinions and PAP replied. End of story.

Let the people decide who is right and who is wrong.
Not PAP or Mediacorp.

There is no need to drop Mr Brown and make this issue a political fight between PAP and Anti-PAP.

In fact, it is Mediacorp who is politicising the whole issue. It is Mediacorp who is partisan.

Anonymous said...

Dear All,

Let's email British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) and ask them to report the news on BBC. If it gets on BBC, the world WILL REALLY know what is happening to Brownie. I know that once is out on BBC, it is hard for the government to avoid the issue any longer.

The email is http://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ukfs/hi/newsid_4030000/newsid_4032600/4032695.stm

Do it now! If you have 100 people emailing them, I am sure they will report. Just report the facts and tell them you will appreciate BBC publishing it! Mention the news blackout in Singapore.

Better Still, Call BBC or Fax them today

BBC Worldwide (Singapore) Private Ltd
19 China Street
#03-05 Far East Square
Tel: + (65) 438 7000
Fax: + (65) 438 7007

Anonymous said...

The suspension of the column has been reported by the Straits Times this morning in a balanced manner. Nice.

Anonymous said...

Please suspend all the Pro PAP Journalists as well for being partisan and politicised.

There are train loads of them. Everyday churning out Pro PAP news until like PAP is God.

Please be fair in implementing laws(if any) and policy.

I can name some for you: Chua sisters, Loh Chee Kong, Aaron Low, Nicholas Fang etc.

Please suspend all of them as well.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang,

I have noted you have offered to put up space in your blog for worthy causes.

May I suggest that you put the "I am Singaporean" project from the Mr Brown website.

I feel that this is a worthy case from many angles.

One, it is fun. (And possibly a positive emotional experience for some people.)

Two, National Day is coming. A spontaneous, messy and uncoordinated outpouring of individual nationalistic pride is a refreshing change from government sanctioned (and somewhat sterile) events (think 4 million smiles).

Three, it is an interesting obseravtion of internet alternative culture or counter-culture. Something like this without government endorsement is next to impossible to imagine.

Four, it is an interesting observation on the influence (or as the case may be, the lack of influence) of the internet in influencing behaviour or mobilising citizen involvement.

Five, it adds a certain human element to the ongoing debate that anonymous personalities in the internet are somehow less than honourable or whose opinions does not deserve consideration or merit.

Six, it sends a political message that the online Singaporean community, loose and shapeless as it is, are active citizens of this country.

Lastly, (and this is the most important reason I can think of), no amount of letter writing or complaining to the RSF, the world's media, or the Singapore media and authorities is ever going to get Mr Brown's job back, or change the political situation for press freedom for the near (or even far) future. We all know that.

But, if your readers truly want to support Mr Brown, the most pragmatic way is to make him RELEVANT.

Make him visible. Don't let him disappear.

With enough participation, the
mainstream media and the authorities cannot ignore the responses from the "I am Singaporean" project, whether it will be officially acknowledged or not.

Coming at the same time of the TODAY debacle, participating in this project is an involved and personal way of sending a subtle note of support to Mr Brown, as well as a quiet and non-threatening message to the authorities that you can't shut someone up that easily.

Dare I say it, an act of patriotism and civil disobedience all rolled into one. And fun too!

Mr Brown would like this.

Anonymous said...

SCMP, a HK english broadsheet has picked up the news via AFP