The apparent proponents of a free Internet are fighting for something that may eventually incite hatred between foreigners and Singaporeans and, more destructively, among the various races and religions here.
The Media Development Authority (MDA) was clear that it would have initiated the suspension of The Real Singapore (TRS) with or without the sedition charges and that its move is not dependent on the outcome of the charges.
If one fights determinedly for Internet freedoms with no inkling of the nature of the damage that irresponsible sensitive postings, especially faked news, could cause, one would pour fuel on the MDA’s statement with politically motivated rhetoric.
Here lies the difference, however, between these parties and those who have gone through racial riots and appreciate the real dangers.
If the Internet and social media had been available in the 1960s, the damage Singapore had seen would have been greater or even irreversible, beyond the point of superficial racial self-restraint.
We have benefited from having many people who survived the riots and who can tell us of the tensions and fears during those dark times and of the precious lessons thereafter.
We also have imprudent parties who have no care for responsible media, ever comparing media controls and the latest clampdown with freedom of speech in the West, yet are awkwardly in denial of the disastrous events unfolding there even today.
If one sees the shutdown of TRS as the loss of a feedback channel for the Government and a curtailment of online voices, then one also has no care for multiracial and multi-religious mechanisms, and a denial of various avenues of feedback.
Regretfully, some people should have experienced our past riots to wake up to the fact that this is not a region where audacious free speech may work but where irresponsible utterances might get us or our loved ones killed.
I have tried over the years to caution against such dangers and have been called naively many names, such as a puppet of the establishment, or asked to return to my “own country”; childishness and a lack of knowledge abound.
If one does not get to know more deeply one’s history and what makes up Singapore, this lack of understanding of how our integration started off reluctantly, but works well today for a reason, is what would set us back.
This letter was written by Eugene De Rozario.
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