by Brad Bowyer
In George Orwell’s Dystopian Nightmare “1984”, one of the four ministries that is used to manage the people is “The Ministry of Truth” which is concerned with news, entertainment, education and the fine arts. In the novel, a selected group get to determine what is Truth and what is Fake and take to task those who do not agree or comply.
Now in 2019, the Singapore government is looking to give a selected few ministers the power to determine what is true and what is fake and have laws to take the people to task if they don’t agree or comply.
These same ministers who are part of the team that promised return of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) at the age of 55 but have kept moving the goal posts, told you that your HDB value would always go up but now admit that it will decline as the flat ages and eventually reach zero, that the first elected president as declared in their own publications is no longer the case so that the count of 4 elected president can become 5 and that the current president who was previously publicly declared as an Indian became a Malay overnight.
Surely the way to combat online falsehoods is to first act in a consistent manner that makes the people have faith and trust in what you say and do and second not put your energy in to having more laws that gives you the power to arbitrarily declare what is true but educate the people with research and critical thinking skills so they can decide for themselves what to believe.
I fully support that we should guard against falsehoods and those who seek to destabilise our society but giving the power to determine truth to a handful and their descendants who may in the future have an agenda and not the public interest at heart is surely not the right way.
Power once given is often difficult to rescind and we have no idea how the future holders of these powers will think and act so we should be very cautious indeed before granting them.
I must ask, “Are you happy to let your elected officials take this power upon themselves and give up your personal right to self-determination when it comes to what is true and fake?”
Is this a step forward or backwards in Singapore’s development of a democratic space for healthy public debate and idea sharing?
This post was first published on Mr Bowyer’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission.