Minister Tan Chuan-Jin’s inability to explain, let alone justify, the basic framework of the MDA’s Licensing Regime affirms the #FreeMyInternet campaign’s call to withdraw the Licensing Regime.
Mr Tan was speaking on Talking Point with Bertha Hanson and Dr Arun Mahiznan.
Mr Tan was asked several times in different permutations to justify how the Government would apply the Licensing Regime. Unfortunately, no coherence was forthcoming.
Mr Tan continuously tripped over his inability to explain how the widely framed definition of news would apply to blogs and websites.
In his most tortured attempt to explain how the distinction would be made, Mr Tan said:
“The regulations deal with news sites. It doesn’t encompass blogs but would some blogs become news sites, and if they evolve to become news sites, I think that is something that we need to look at. As a broad principle, it is meant to cover those reporting news. Individual blogs, commentaries — that remains open.”
The distinction Tan Chuan-Jin attempted to draw between blogs and news completely contradicts the Licensing Regime’s definition of a “Singapore news programme”, which is framed so widely as to encompass any material to do with Singapore.
Mr Tan’s repeated inability to answer direct questions about whether or not the Licensing Regime would apply to a blog that creates news content is deeply worrying.
This complete confusion puts paid to MDA re-assurances that the Licensing Regime will not apply to blogs: how can this re-assurance be taken seriously if the distinction between a blog and a news site is completely amorphous?
The fact that even a Cabinet Minister (albeit not the responsible Minister) could not explain the nature of the Licensing Regime with reference to the actual legislation that was passed illustrates how poorly thought out and rushed the Licensing Regime was.
#FreeMyInternet deplores the fact that the Minister actually in charge of the Licensing Regime did not have the courage to defend the Licensing Regime on Talking Point, choosing instead to issue a prepared press release earlier today.
Bizarrely, the CEO of MDA was also pulled off Talking Point at the last minute.
In the last few days, it has become clear that the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and the MDA have failed to put the Licensing Regime to debate in Parliament and the public.
It is even more worrying that other Cabinet Ministers are so poorly briefed on the Licensing Regime, and the parties who should be taking responsibility for the debacle are instead taking cover.
In light of the above, #FreeMyInternet continues to unequivocally call on MCI and MDA to withdraw the Licensing Regime. We further call on Singaporeans to express their dissatisfaction at the nature, scope and manner in which the Licensing Regime was passed. Join us at Hong Lim Park on 8 June 2013, at 4 – 7 p.m.