The blogosphere as we know it now, is the last bastion of truly free expression.
What was there before there was blog?
What did we have before the internet gave all of us this precious gift?
Granted, the MSM-MainStream Media (or their masters) have loosened their grip and are allowing more divergent views to be published in their forum pages. But the MSM is still firmly and totally controlled by the government.
The views of the government on the functions of the media are well known. When push come to shove, one of the government leaders would invariably mouth something like,” We will not let the editors/journalists/media etc… set the agenda”-ad nauseum.
Our MSM ain’t no Fourth Estate
The MSM in Singapore is never going to be the “Fourth Estate” as is the case in the western democracies.
The “Fourth Estate’s” coinage has been attributed to Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797), a British politician. It comes from a quote in Thomas Carlyle’s book, “Heros and Hero Worship in History” (1841).
“Burke said that there were three Estates in Parliament, but in the Reporters Gallery yonder, there sat a fourth Estate more important far than they all.”
The three estates in the above quote referred to the British parliament,( the Lords Temporal, the Lords Spiritual and the Commons). The Lords Temporal and the Lords Spiritual combined being The House of Lords, the upper House of parliament. And the Commons is The House of Commons or the British lower House.
Singapore’s MSM is not there to be a watchdog; a check and balance of the government’s abuse of power. If Woodward and Bernstein were journalists in Singapore, they would not be heroes. Very likely, they would have been detained under the Internal Security’s Act if they had tried to publish details of the happenings at the Watergate hotel on that fateful day in June 1972.
We have the Speaker’s Corner, I hear you say. You have to register at the police station next to Hong Lim Square and you also cannot use any form of amplification!
If you try a “Chee Soon Juan” and as much as walk together in larger than a group of four’s, you will share the same fate and ignominy as him. I do admire CSJ’s guts.
That leaves us precious little left.
We can just take it ( like most Singaporeans have done in the past) or leave it ( as many more have done in the present).
Or we can blog…
The “gahmen” has seemingly turned a blind eye to Singapore’s nascent blogosphere. The IDA or the police may actually visit to read the contents ( they do, I assure you) but unless one is so stupid as to write defamatory stuff about certain families and characters, or worse incite racial or religious hatred ( which I am vehemently against-incitement of hatred that is), then for godknowswhatreason, they have let us be.
Perhaps they want us to let off some steam (words in cyberspace are infinitely better than a revolution downtown) , or maybe they want to know what these “radical intellectual-types” actually feel? or maybe they are really closet liberals waiting to come out (ok just joking). I don’t know and I don’t care.
So why oh why?
We have the freedom now. So, why do we want to self-regulate? Have we been so used to being a subjugated people that when freedom has been thrust upon us, we tell them, “No, please we don’t deserve freedom” ( Xenoboy talk the most sense of us all here).
History repeating itself?
Back in the early days of Singapore’s internet, we had soc.culture.singapore which was a newsgroup.It was like the present Sammyboy’s internet forum.
When some (intellectual-types) advocated that we self-regulate ( or they called it “moderation”) I was adamantly opposed to it.
I was amongst a minority who voiced out vociferously against this. However,the majority went ahead to form “moderated.soc.culture.singapore”.
You guessed it. It died a quick death. Uncelebrated-no funeral.
None of you even knew such a newsgroup existed. You know whatimean?
So, I say what I said then, “NO!”
Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan
Visit Dr Huang’s blog here.