In response to a letter to the Straits Times by Choo Zheng Xi (see here) on the power of the Internet in engaging “new constituencies of tech-savvy voters”, the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) said that the Government “(has) been reviewing [its] light-touch approach and [is] considering how [it] could take a lighter-touch approach.”
Choo had earlier singled out the Films Act and called it “surprisingly retrograde”.
“Section 33 bans the ‘making, distribution and exhibition’ of party political films. This blanket prohibition extends beyond the Internet to all forms of film,” he said.
“As a matter of principle, this prohibition is unhealthy for both voters and politicians. Voters should be given maximum exposure to their political figures, to best enable us to make the most informed decisions at the ballot box. Politicians, in turn, will benefit from having an additional medium to communicate their message to the electorate.”
He added that unenforceable laws diminish the respectability of the legal framework, and should not be on the books.
In her reply in the Straits Times on 2 July, the director for MICA’s corporate communications, Ms K Bhavani, repeated what she had said in an email reply to the group of bloggers calling for the deregulation of the Internet:
The Government recognises that the Internet and new media technology have evolved since we introduced our light-touch approach in 1996. To keep up with the new media landscape, we have been reviewing our light-touch approach and are considering how we could take a lighter-touch approach. We appointed the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (Aims) in April last year to study the new media and how best to refine our regulatory framework.
We will consider all views and feedback in our review.
Press freedom and freedom on expression (Straits Times).
Think critically in a digital age: Vivian (Straits Times).