Thursday, May 26, 2005

A*STAR incident

I am sure everyone has read about this ..
Mr Chen Jiahao ... 23 year old ... blogger ... wrote about A*STAR and Mr Philip Yeo ... supposedly about some "defamatory" comments about A*STAR and Mr Yeo himself ("supposedly" because it was never stated which were the defamatory comments). So, Mr Chen got threatened with a vague lawsuit that did not specify which were the bad statements, and he eventually gave in and took down the ENTIRE site, with the exception of an apology.

I have a few thoughts ... very deep concerned thoughts about the whole situation. This is getting rather disturbing. I am living in a country where the Govt threatens with the all expensive lawsuit against a student, when he basically made some comments that the Govt found offensive OVERSEAS, in blog hosted on a FOREIGN server.

What was the Big Brother so worried about that made them go to such extent? If the purpose was to prevent further discussion about the comments, their actions had definitely resulted in the opposite. Many many more sites now spring up in discussion on about the comments, but about concerns of how ridiculous the actions of the Mr Yeo was.

Sorry Mr Chen, you were never meant to win. You probably didn't even wanna win anything, but they struck you down anyways. They know you (or any Singaporeans to begin with) would not be able to afford the time and the money to fight the case. You're already guilty before you could fight it. They accused you of defamatory, when they did not even specify how you did it. You could have resisted, and they could then have you jailed for not giving into their demands to remove your blog.

I am wondering, if I started saying how I hated Microsoft in my entire blog. Or dedicate a special blog just to bash how i dislike their products or Bill Gates. Would Mr Gates come after me? Probably not. Why? Because if it was baseless, unfair accusations and comments, no one will give a shit and some people might even leave comments to bash me. There are "invisible" market forces who will balance the comments out and readers will decide for themselves if what I write make sense.

But the Singapore Government apparently do not yet have the same level of trust for its own people. They do not trust the people to make up their minds on what is right and what is wrong. I had spoken to some people who supports the Singapore government's harsh treatments and strong arm tactics to keep the country at peace, and use that as a reasoning why we should trust the government to know what's best. That is a very dangerous proposition. It is a same situation to having Microsoft controlling 90% of the browser market and you see how they had slacked in their product development of IE. I am sure both Microsoft and the Singapore Government will go explain why they still are the innovators, while at the same time destroying those companies and people who threaten their dominance.

What is the eventual result of using "fear" as a tactic to ensure peace in Singapore? The younger generation become subdued and content with what they have. They do not question, and accept all decisions by the government with little actions to resist. These Singaporeans are not those who would like to concern themselves with the way the government runs the show. They just want to make their living and make stay happy. They are probably not interested to give actions to make the country better, just their own lives because it is "not their problem". If these are the type of Singaporean that the government wants to groom, I'd say they've done a mighty job. But what I think, is that the Singapore Government wants something else.

Singapore Government wants entrepreneurs, they want talents and they want a nation that loves its country. They are trying to sell us songs that make us feel that "This is my country, this my flag, this my family, these are my friends, We are Singaporeans". But the opposite is happening. The foreign talents who come in do not "love the country", they love "the money". The younger Singaporeans who love the country feels that they can't do what they want, say what they want, and they leave. Like a feeder school, Singapore is breeding young Singaporeans they wish to keep , but they can't stay loyal. Those who stay and can't do/say what they want, are constantly looking for ways to "get out". Singapore wants to have a nation of young entrepreneurs who takes risks and think creative, but at the same time, Singapore also wants control.

So ... what do you want Singapore? What do you want? If you want change, you have to let go. Just when I thought I see signs changing, like the relaxing of the censorship laws to allow more uncut movies, and our very own "speaker's corner", things like the A*STAR incident totally destroys my faith in the Government. The Govt says something and does another. They claim to promote freedom of speech, yet they do not execute all the way. They claim they hear, but they do not listen. You want to make a speech at the "speaker's corner"? Sure, as long as you head down to the police post to register. I know changes are hard. But if you want changes, you should not execute it in a crippled manner and then use it to support your future claims for the lack of interest in it.

I love to see a better and freer Singapore. But the day is not today ... and from the looks of it, we still have a long way to go.

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