It is with deep regret that the SDP learns that the Government is going to amend the Broadcasting Act to require news websites to register with the Media Development Authority.
This is a regressive step which will have the effect of impeding the free flow of information and the development of a free and pluralistic media in Singapore.
Freedom of the press is a right of the people that the Government must respect. It is crucial to building a system that is transparent and democratically accountable. Singaporeans have expressed their desire for greater political space and a free online media will greatly contribute to achieving that end.
On the economic front, Singapore has come to a stage where we can, and must, have a more open society. This will help to encourage critical thinking which will, in turn, encourage an innovative culture to take root. This process is essential for the sustainability of our economic development.
Unfortunately, the latest move to tighten online media will do the opposite, that is, the measure will have the tendency to breed more fear and conformist behaviour. This will put Singapore at a further disadvantage when it comes to our competitiveness on the global stage.
At the same time, the Government should realise that efforts to rein in the Internet will not succeed. The introduction of this policy will simply make Singaporeans more determined to use the new media as a news source as well as to push for greater media freedom.
The SDP, therefore, calls on the PAP Government to respect the rights of Singaporeans and reconsider its decision to place restrictions on news websites.
Chee Soon Juan
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