B.GOODE: After what seemed like an eternity, MDA finally found the balls to shut the hate-mongering website The Real Singapore.
We will never find out what went through their thought process when deciding to close the website down. Perhaps they were trying to balance the need for more political dialogue with the need to preserve Singapore’s unique social fabric. Or perhaps there was a long-drawn debate between the liberals and the conservatives within the establishment, which includes the cabinet.
Had Lee Kuan Yew been in-charged, I think the outcome would have been obvious and swift.
The late LKY was a stickler for redlines and OB markers. Although one could argue that the OB markers could have been placed further apart, the fact remained that if you crossed it, you’d have to face the music.
Whether the tardiness in closing down TRS was due to the authorities trying to shift the OB markers, or even forgetting about their existence is up to conjecture. But there was no doubt that the redline had been crossed and so TRS had to be closed.
It was not so much that TRS was anti-government or anti-PAP that it was closed as many would want us to believe. If that was the case, many other websites and blogs would have long ceased to operate.
But it was because it had become a platform to mock and challenge the values that we hold dear, which are racial and religious harmony. And it had become so bad that it started to provoke racial strife. All for the sake of money.
And of course, its readers and supporters cried murder; that freedom of expression had ceased to exist. The thing is that, this denunciation is not new. It’s the reason why our press freedom index is at 154.
But should we care? Not so much as to lose sleep over it. Because our freedom of expression comes with responsibility and consequences. In fact, everywhere is the same. It’s just that Singapore is an easy target because there is nothing else for them to find fault with.
And there is the argument that with the closure of TRS, Singaporeans will not have anywhere else to turn to for alternative views. First and foremost, if we need to read TRS for alternative views, then we really need to reassess our surfing habits.
Secondly, there is nothing alternative about TRS. Just because it is in its tagline doesn’t mean it’s true. In fact, TRS is not even a news website. It is just a news aggregator; copy-pasting news and articles from other websites and blogs, and sometimes changing or omitting some paragraphs to provoke some reactions from its readers. Click-baiting at its best.
And there is also the argument that closing TRS will be a futile endeavour because similar websites will sprout to replace it. So might as well let it be. The problem with this argument is like saying why bother to smash drugs syndicates because others will just take their place.
Just like the fight against drugs, the fight against hate-mongering websites must be persistent and continuous. To relent because of a lack of stamina and resolve will be the beginning of the end.
So sayonara TRS.
You will certainly not be missed.
This commentary was written by B.Goode and first published on The Singapore Beacon.
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