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From blogger to politician – in Singapore?

In the recent Malaysian elections, blogger Jeff Ooi stood as a candidate for the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) in Penang’s Jelutong Parliamentary seat and won. His margin of victory was a whopping 16,246 votes. (The Star)

It was Ooi’s first attempt in an election.

Will we see Singapore bloggers doing a Jeff Ooi, entering the political fray as candidates?

The New Paper (March 12, 2008) interviewed theonlinecitizen’s writers Gerald Giam and Leong Sze Hian for their views on this. (Click here)

Gerald’s view:

If you survey the socio-political blogs in Singapore, you will find many bloggers who love Singapore and want to change Singapore for the better. I'm sure at least a few of them will be willing to take the next step to enter politics. That could only be good for Singapore.”

Sze Hian’s view:

“The strength of the local blogging community is that they are non-political. Once you have bloggers entering politics, it undermines the purity of blogging, because bloggers are supposed to be neutral.”

What are your own views? Please feel free to discuss and post your comments.

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Below is the full transcript of Gerald’s interview with The New Paper, as posted on his own blog, Singapore Patriot.

TNP: Because of their highly-regulated media, many Malaysians have turned to political blogs such as Jeff Ooi's as credible alternatives to mainstream media. Do you feel the same thing could happen with Singapore?

Gerald: The migration from TV and newspapers to the Internet is already happening in Singapore. I believe this is because there are so many 'information and opinion gaps' left by the mainstream media on local issues. Local media often fail to provide balanced reporting and commentary on events and issues that put the Government or the ruling party in a bad light.

Singapore's media is as regulated, if not more so, than the Malaysian media. Is it any wonder that many Singaporeans are increasingly turning to socio-political blogs for news, commentary and analysis? And it's not just young Singaporeans. I know of a number of older Singaporeans who are also regular readers of socio-political blogs.

TNP: M'sian bloggers like Jeff Ooi have managed to enter the realm of politics and even raise funds through their blogs. Do you see this happening in Singapore?

Gerald: If you survey the socio-political blogs in Singapore, you will find many bloggers who love Singapore and want to change Singapore for the better. I'm sure at least a few of them will be willing to take the next step to enter politics. That could only be good for Singapore.

As for raising funds, I'm not sure if Singapore's electoral laws allow online fundraising. But I definitely think online fundraising should be allowed. Even Barack Obama, the US Presidential candidate, raised a large amount from grassroots supporters through the Internet, instead of relying on big businesses for his campaign donations.

TNP: How far would you go with controversial and possibly politically-sensitive comments on your blog? Where do you draw the line?

Gerald: I would draw the line on any comment that is illegal, which is not in Singapore's national interests, or which could get me terminated from my job. This, of course, does not mean that I will refrain from expressing my opinions on policies that I feel are wrong for Singapore. I think so far I have been extremely cautious in what I write.

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