I do understand that everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect. Even “good people” (borrowing a phrase from Law Minister K Shanmugam) make mistakes. Mr Shanmugam was defending the Medial Literacy Council (MLC) for listing “satire” as a form of “fake news” by mistake. The error was corrected and “satire” has been removed from the list of “fake news” contenders. While I agree with Mr Shanmugam’s take on mistakes, I do question if he applies this principle evenly. For example, would he be so magnanimous if a “mistake” was made by someone who is not considered “friendly” to the authorities?
Mr Shanmuggam is known to have strongly criticised others who are not with the establishment for actions that could also be considered “mistakes”. Why is that the case? Why is his goodwill applied differently across the board? Take for instance the “brown face” saga that inspired a satirical rap video by Singapore rapper Subhas Nair and YouTuber Preeti Nair. In that case, I personally understand why they made the video. To investigate it and treat it as “offensive content” in contravention of the law is taking the whole thing out of context. In that case, Mr Shanmuggam criticised the video and the pair behind the video without any indication that he understood the reasons behind why the video was made in the first place.
What about his tough stance against 20 year old Edmund Zhong who did not egg him? Much to do about nothing isn’t it? This all started when Zhong made a joke about egging Mr Shanmugam on social media. Instead of according the same courtesy of “mistake” on Zhong like he has with a government department in the form of the MLC, Zhong has had to face police investigations even though no eggs were even physically thrown! How is this fair?
If you want to excuse a well funded government agency from mistakes, then how can you hold a 20 year old individual responsible for loose comments on his own Facebook page? Egging isn’t even dangerous to begin with and in this case, I must stress – NO EGG WAS THROWN.
I can go on and list other examples but for the sake of brevity, I will desist. My point is this – I do understand that people make mistakes but for that reasoning to hold weight and be credible, it has to be applied evenly. It cannot only be a “mistake” if the government or someone government friendly makes it.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that anything is deliberate on the part of Mr Shanmugam or the government. Just something to be aware of for all involved. It cannot be one rule for some and another rule for others.