Media Release from the Singapore Democratic Party
The SDP is concerned about recent legal actions or threats of legal action issued by various Government departments.
Websites such as EDMW Loves Singapore and The Real Singapore that had commented or carried comments on the outcome of the courts were ordered by the Attorney-General’s Chambers to remove the offending posts.
The Council for Private Education has threatened a 21-year-old blogger with a defamation lawsuit for comments related to the Council.
Cartoonist, Mr Leslie Chew, was arrested for sedition and questioned for almost three days over his cartoons.
Freelance journalist, Ms Lynn Lee, has been warned that action may be taken against her for filming SMRT bus drivers who were convicted for going on a strike.
Freedom of expression is not only guaranteed under the Singapore Constitution but also an important avenue where the people provide feedback, often on public policy and service. Such commentary come in various forms, some in a more serious tone and others in light-hearted satire.
Citizens who critique matters of public interest help to contribute to good governance. A bold and outspoken public will help to encourage independent thinking which will, in turn, foster innovation and enterprise – qualities that will help to regenerate our economy and make it more competitive.
If the Government and its agencies disagree with the views or find them not in order, they should issue responses and, if necessary, engage the writers in a debate. These are opportunities to educate the Singaporean public of how the Government works. Through patient explanation and persuasion, the authorities will gain the confidence and respect of the people – even though differences in opinion may remain. Ultimately, Singaporeans appreciate reasoned argument.
By taking legal action, however, the Government may silence its critics. This will breed resentment and misunderstanding among Singaporeans which is not healthy for our nation.
The PAP Government must accept that as our country matures Singaporeans, unlike in the past, are increasingly concerned about the public policy and want to speak up in our country’s decision-making process. Their voices are becoming louder with the Internet age. They should be welcomed, not silenced.
For the reasons cited above, the SDP calls on the Government to withdraw its legal actions.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party