theonlinecitizen

a community of singaporeans

Big Brother in cyberspace – anonymously

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 7, 2007

“He (Mr Brown) should come out from behind his pseudonym to defend his views openly.”

– Press Secretary to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, K BHAVANI in a letter to TODAY newspaper July 3 2006

“The identity is not important. It is the message that is important,”

– PAP MP Baey Yam Keng, Straits Times, Feb 3 2007

The above quotes from government officials perhaps sum up the dichotomy of approaches by the government to different media.

Ms Bhavani’s comments referred to “opinions which are widely circulated in a regular column in a serious newspaper” which “should meet higher standards.” Mr Baey’s comments, on the other hand, referred to the government’s stance on online communications.

What should one make of this seemingly confusing and contradictory message that the government is sending out to singaporeans? Perhaps a closer look at the issue will throw up some answers.

First, a look at the PAP’s wider strategy

From the moment STOMP was set up, it was apparent that the government is moving into the internet in a big way. Word has it that STOMP was set up with a few million dollars. That’s a lot of money for a website. It was followed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, George Yeo, getting onto the blogging bandwagon, as it were. The much-lauded PAP post-65 MPs’ blog – P65.sg – was launched with much publicity. Youth.sg was set up as the government’s channel of reaching out to younger Singaporeans. Finally, Singapore Press Holdings bought the Hardware Zone website for a cool $7 million.

As can be seen, the government has been taking steps to make its presence felt on the internet.

The use of the mainstream media

The one huge advantage that the government has on its side is the mainstream media. And they have not shied away from using it to advertise and promote their cyber activities. STOMP – being owned by SPH which runs all of the mainstream papers – is advertised daily in the Straits Times. Minister Yeo has also been in the news for his blogging – the last time only a few weeks ago on the tv programme Blogtv. And of course, the P65 MPs are given extensive exposure in the mainstream media as well.

The use of the mainstream media to promote the government’s agenda is one which all other bloggers and netizens do not have, including the opposition parties.

“Quiet counter-insurgency”

The Straits Times (Feb 3 2007) reports that the government is “mounting a quiet counter-insurgency against its online critics”. This initiative is driven by no less than 2 sub-committees under the main “new media” committee chaired by Manpower Minister, Ng Eng Hen. One of the sub-committees is also headed by a minister – Minister of State for education, Lui Tuck Yew. It is thus quite apparent that the government (and the PAP) takes online views seriously, in spite of what they may have said about it in the past.

What would grab the reader of the Straits Times report (which is widely regarded as being a government mouthpiece) is the use of the term “counter-insurgency”. It conjures images of a government sending in its foot soldiers into cyberspace to perhaps put down, neutralize, destroy, annihilate or incapacitate those that they see as “insurgents”. For, is this not what you do to “insurgents”?

Immediately, the stance is that there is something to “counter”, something to put down. That bloggers and forummers who express a different view to the government’s or the PAP’s are “insurgents”. This attitude of seeing cyberspace as a “war zone” is counter-productive, in fact. If it is the PAP government’s aim to engage the online community, adopting the attitude of seeing their critics as people to be “countered” will alienate the PAP in such a community.

Question of anonymity – changing the dictates

It is also rather troubling to hear the PAP government now say that “the identity is not important. It is the message that is important”, when less than a year ago, blogger Mr Brown was publicly criticised and taken to task for writing under a pseudonym satirically criticizing the government.

It was also not too long ago that the Straits Times Forum Page required letter writers to provide personal particulars – such as full name, NRIC number, address, etc – before their letters are published.

One would conclude from these examples, that anonymity is something which the government frowns on. Yet, it is now reported that the government itself “has members going into internet forums and blogs to rebut anti-establishment views and putting up postings anonymously.”

Or are we to understand that anonymity is only seen as acceptable on the net but not in the mainstream media – and this according to government dictate? Are we suppose to subject ourselves to what the government says is acceptable and what is not – and to abide by the government’s changing stance?

Why are online views important to the government – and the PAP?

Looking at the seriousness with which the government is approaching online communications, the question to ask is “Why does the government suddenly take such views so seriously?”

There are several reasons:

1. The fear of losing control over information – and its dissemination and “distortion”. In a city as open to technology as Singapore, it is unavoidable that information – and its alternative sources and forms – will increasingly have a larger impact on society.

2. Voters. As a political party, the PAP is no doubt looking ahead at the increasing number of tech-savvy voters who have access to alternative sources of information, particularly the internet. Currently, 66% of homes have access to the internet. This number will become higher as Singapore wires up further.

3. Young Singaporeans. A look at the numbers may explain why the government is concerned about Singaporeans, especially young Singaporeans, being exposed to non-mainstream or anti-government views. Net usage is highest among 10 to 15 year-olds, some 90%. Half of all Singaporeans between 15 to 19, and 46% of those aged between 20 and 24 blog or podcast on the Net. In absolute numbers, these runs into the hundreds of thousands. Thus, politically, this is a group which the government cannot ignore.

4. Opposition parties. The Singapore Democratic Party and the Workers’ Party have been active in using the internet to further their agenda. The WP in particular, directly or indirectly (perhaps even unwittingly) benefited from exposure through the internet in last year’s general elections. Any space or platform which benefits the opposition will attract the government’s and the PAP’s attention.

5. As PAP MP Denise Phua once said, the internet is “85% against the government”. If the internet, as it is believed to, grow further, in terms of number of users, 85% being anti-government is an alarming statistic – at least where the government is concerned. Thus, it has to be “managed”, to quote Denise Phua again.Lastly, any space where the government’s voice is not the loudest is well, unacceptable to the authorities – as can be seen in the government’s involvement in all and every aspect of our lives.

Leveraging/leveling effect of alternative media

Another reason is perhaps the leveraging effect that the internet has vis a vis the mainstream media, no matter how small or inconsequential presently. This was most well-exhibited during the elections when Alex Au’s picture of a WP rally made its rounds online – and even reaching the front page of a Malaysian newspaper. Subsequently, the mainstream Straits Times in Singapore had to publish it as well, else it would have further lost credibility among Singaporeans – they published the picture 3 or 4 days after the rally, and arguably under pressure from the internet.

Also, the posting of videos and pictures on blogs of opposition parties’ rallies revealed the self-censorship (some would say state censorship) of the mainstream media where such videos and pictures were conspicuously absent. This allowed netizens room, ironically, to provide what the mainstream media could not.

Simply put, the media in Singapore – being the government’s only trusted tool to propagate its agenda – must be protected from any external leveraging effect. In this, there is no compromise.

Engagement as opposed to “countering”

What is also unfortunate is the mindset within the government of “countering” rather than engaging Singaporeans online, which could have been borne out of the misplaced idea that “85% of the internet is against the government”. It could simply be that those who are against the government are more vocal than those who are not and thus giving the impression that “85%” of them are anti-government. But even if it is, what the government should be doing is to engage netizens and not “counter” or “manage” them.

My view is that most bloggers on the internet are – by and large – sensible and not out to ‘topple’ the government, as opposed to what the term “insurgents” might suggest. Indeed, there are, as far as I know, only a handful who are blatantly (and even unreasonably) anti-government or anti-PAP. And if they are hardcore anti-PAP Singaporeans behind such blogs, would it be necessary for the govt to ‘’manage’’ them anyway, especially if they are of a small number? Wouldn’t it better for the net and fellow bloggers to “manage” them instead of Big Brother?

This is not idealistic thinking or wishful imagination. The Wee Shu Min saga displayed the net and bloggers’ ability to critique what is deemed as unacceptable views. The recent spat between owners of the blogsite Singapore Election and fellow bloggers like Aaron Ng and Singapore Patriot also showed that there is room for debate and the sorting out of differing views.

The debate on the hanging of Nigerian Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi in Singapore also provided an insight on how the net can offer opportunities for “wrongful” views to be corrected by fellow bloggers.

Thus, the government should take the internet for what it is – a marketplace where all sorts of goods (views) are sold but trust that the consumers know what are good products and what are not. The government’s role should solely be to provide the infrastructure for this marketplace, not unlike what they do for the real markets where we buy our vegetables and other goods.

The government should not be covertly whispering into the ears of the “consumers”, telling them which stall has better produce.

Instead of sending in the “counter-insurgent” squad, the government should instead be open about its presence and engage the internet community non-anonymously and non-covertly.

Intrusion into sacred space

Perhaps the discomfort, to put it mildly, of netizens regarding the latest revelation about the government’s presence in cyberspace, is because it is seen as “Big Brother intruding into and desecrating” what is seen as singapore’s and singaporeans’ one and only sacred space left. A space where Singaporeans can speak freely and not be subject to the government’s dictates.

A space which, in view of the revelation of “counter-insurgents” being sent in, is no more sacred or free.

The government’s counter-argument (forgive the irony) could perhaps be that no one owns the internet, or the space that it provides. Thus, there is no justification to not “allow” or wlecome the government’s presence.

Having said that, what really irks and puts off netizens is the way the government is going about it – with anonymous postings which runs counter to their own pronouncements on credibility and “standing up for your views” openly.

In short, it could be seen as hypocrisy.

The ultimate solution

Ultimately, the solution to what the government sees as the propagation of anti-government, anti-PAP views will bring us back to the issue of the mainstream media. It is because the mainstream media is so blatantly pro-govt (or at least that is the impression), that alternative views have gone online.

In the past, these differing views were only expressed in hushed voices at coffeeshops and within the confines of one’s home perhaps. Now, with the easy-access and the proliferation of communications technology and its tools, no longer are people restricted to hushed whispers or total silence.

And if the mainstream media does not reflect what is authentic views from and of the ground, then these views must find themselves an outlet – and this is where the internet is so prized by citizens.

Credibility vs authenticity

The government must also shift its insistence of views being credible or accurate to one where views are seen as authentic, whether they are anti or pro-government – and the mainstream media must reflect this.

For in accepting that differing views are authentic (thus, honest and sincere even though they may not be factual, accurate or even credible), the process of genuine engagement can then begin.

There is a simple reason why credibility should not be a main requirement: Ordinary citizens cannot be expected to provide “credible” views necessarily simply because ordinary citizens, unlike the govt, do not have access to all the information on any or every particular issue or topic. Neither do ordinary citizens have access to unlimited sources and resources for their facts and figures.

As PM Lee himself once said, it does not matter if we have differing views, the important thing is that Singaporeans have a view. Indeed he said:

“Some people are afraid to speak up for fear of saying the wrong thing, or being taken to task. But for debate to be fruitful, it has to be rigorous and not held back out of concern for egos and sensitivities.” (DPM Lee Hsien Loong’s speech at Harvard Club, Straits Times, Jan 7 2004).

And in his National Day rally speech:

“In fact, if we agree all the time, something must be wrong with us.”

And therein lies the attitude the PAP should adopt in this effort to engage (and not counter) Singaporeans.

Sending in “counter-insurgents” anonymously reflects the lack of confidence of the government, the uncertainty of its members in debates, and the antagonistic stance that the government has chosen to adopt right from the start.

How does this equate to the same government’s declaration of an “open and inclusive society”?

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44 Responses to “Big Brother in cyberspace – anonymously”

  1. […] 2: Woah, and this happened not too long ago… Readership (286) […]

  2. BL said

    “The recent spate between owners of the blogsite Singapore Election and fellow bloggers like Aaron Ng and Singapore Patriot also showed that there is room for debate and the sorting out of differing views.”

    I don’t think that Singapore Election Watch will give any room for proper debating. As a matter of fact, I find them to be intellectually dishonest by writing that post to intimidate and bully centrist bloggers who do not share the same view as they do. I disagree with what you say totally. As a matter of fact, the website actually distorts and twisted what I have written on self-regulation and moderation, despite many reputable bloggers (Dr Huang and ZyberZitizen) wrote and protested what they have written. In fact, they refuse to retract what they said about me and here is a line from them on that post:

    Zyberzitizen: Did you ever take into consideration the multitudes of other people who happen to work for employers somehow related to the powers that be, and yet are AGAINST censorship? I doubt you did.

    SEW: Sure, it’s true one may not completely agree with all the principles of one’s affiliations. However, we don’t feel that Mr. Leong is one of them. We think that he’s too deep in his own bullshit that he fails to realize that one has to fight the system to change it, and the fight often takes up unconventional means. To suggest a regulatory concept around such means is to suggest that Singaporeans should simply passively give in to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.

    What they are saying here is that since I refuse to follow the ways of CSJ, I am pro-establishment.

    I am pretty shocked when I read what you say here, because you are condoning their kind of smear campaigns.

  3. Dear BL,

    Allow me to clarify.

    I am not condoning what SEW did. What I am saying is that through the open debate, bloggers (and their readers) can have the opportunity to decide and make up their own minds on the issue and perhaps come to a consensus.

    And to make it clear, I do not agree, at all, with what SEW said about Gerald Giam either. Neither do I agree with them on their opinion of Aaron and the rest, you included.

    Regards,
    theonlinecitizen

  4. askmydad said

    Hello BL,

    I think you are actually overacting, singapore elections is quite OK and I think the write up is quite objective.

    As for the govt etc. I tend to go with the view of brotherhood, they can try to change or correct us, but so can we. we need to engage them rationally.

  5. BL said

    Askmydad,

    I don’t think that I am over-reacting. I don’t have a problem if SEW writes something about why we should not self-regulate and why people who propose formation of the association is wrong. They did not write that, but they went on with personal attacks insisting that the centrist bloggers as stooges. In fact, they did not even get their facts right in the first place.

    The SEW site is good for archives of videos and articles, but for actual debate, I don’t that it ever exist in the first place.

    TheOnlineCitizen,

    Seriously, there are better examples of a debate which you can use in your article. The spate between SEW and the bloggers does not constitute a debate, while Dr Huang disagree with Aaron and Gerald on the issue and lay out properly why he did not favor the self-regulation issue, now that’s a debate. It’s more like SEW trying to do character assassinations on other bloggers who don’t agree with them. Seriously, they are more out to do a witchhunt rather than going for real debate.

    I understand that you do not agree with their opinion. What I am really asking is, are you ready to condemn them for making such remarks about individuals? There are public bloggers like Dr Huang, Gerald, Aaron and Gayle who may be subjected to their bullying and character assassination like my situation. Are you sure that just disagreeing is enough?

    Moderation is important but sometimes, when someone behaves badly and damages the image of the whole community, public condemnation takes place. It is precisely because we don’t take action that provide the establishment more ammunition to call for regulation and control.

  6. Someone left a comment on my blog claiming that your blog is “operated, staffed, and funded by members of a certain party”, whatever that means.

    I thought I should let you know, so that you can respond, if you see fit.

  7. mr miyagii said

    BL

    “There are public bloggers like Dr Huang, Gerald, Aaron and Gayle who may be subjected to their bullying and character assassination like my situation. Are you sure that just disagreeing is enough?”

    I really dont think you have really considered what you have just written. You speak as if you dont know there are thousands of people in the net and they can all make up their minds and form their own judgments.

    As for people getting bullied over the net, Gayle Goh made her decision out of the freedom of her own prerogative. If she wants to take her toy and go back, that really is her problem. That may make perfect sense to her 12 year supporters, but to most mature people, they will just say, she is a girl that didnt have a grounded sense of reality, so if it is not this incident, it would be another.

    I think if we look very closely at one grp that “askmydad” specifically mentioned. This fraternity has been attacked on numerous occasions by even supposedly blog heavy weights, but on each occasion they have just shrugged it off or side stepped their enemies.

    BL I am not trying to compare you with this grp, but what comes across clearly is you seem to expect and even demand action, while they dont and I wonder why?

    I am not a supporter of this grp, but I admit reading them bc they are hilarious and my lecturer says they are very educational, who doesnt these days? Only I feel one reason why they dont ask and demand from their enemies is because they know it is waste of time.

    So coming back to the point, you need to really ask yourself, is it worthwhile to even expect SEW to account or expect us TOS to condemn them?

    Or is it better to just ignore them and like this funny grp allow your readers to make the final decision themselves.

  8. mr miyagii said

    sorry typo:

    So coming back to the point, you need to really ask yourself, is it worthwhile to even expect SEW to account or expect TOS to condemn them?

  9. BL said

    Mr Miyagii,

    Here is my whole take from my discussion so far. TOC uses a bad example on how bloggers debate on important issues. I am pointing out that it is a bad one, because Singapore Election Watch is neither credible nor honest and in my view, they lacked any kind of capacity to conduct even a proper debate in the first place. The difference between me and them is simple: I have evidence to demonstrate that they have behaved badly and they are making accusations without basis of proof. So, it is right of me to ask TOC to clarify their position on the issue.

    I don’t expect TOC to make SEW account or to publicly condemn those people, because it is up to them to decide their own course of action. So, in any case, that will be my last word to the issue.

  10. Dear BL,

    You are right in saying that there are other instances which TOC could have used. Whether they would be ‘better’ examples is open to debate.

    The reason why I used the SEW/Aaron/Gerald/Yadav example is because of the nature of the debate (although you would not call it such). It was a heated debate, even personal at times. It was, in my opinion, a good example of how bloggers handle the incident. And the way Aaron, Gerald and Yadav handled it, fellow bloggers and readers can decide who is being responsible.

    And in this, I am on the side of Aaron, Gerald, Yadav and yourself.

    I would also like to add that Yadav Dhamendra and SgPatriot also responded to SEW’s accusations in their own blog. They did not respond directly in SEW’s blogsite.

    You ask if TOC is ready to condemn SEW’s behaviour. TOC, as with all other fellow bloggers, has its own opinion on the incident. But to be clear, we find SEW’s behaviour irresponsible and their accusations totally unfounded.

    Regards,
    theonlinecitizen

  11. Dear Mr Wang,

    Thank you for visiting TOC and alerting us to the comment about our site.

    TOC will respond in your blogsite in due course, if we find it necessary to.

    Thank you…

    Regards,
    theonlinecitizen

  12. dandellion said

    Dear all,

    It seems to me, all of u have missed the point Miyagi is making by deliberately mentioning the space boys.

    He is asking BL, Aaron, Yadav et al whether it is worthwhile in the first place to engage SEW.

    As BL has mentioned here,

    “they lacked any kind of capacity to conduct even a proper debate in the first place. The difference between me and them is simple: I have evidence to demonstrate that they have behaved badly and they are making accusations without basis of proof”

    If this is really the case, then may I ask why would anyone want to engage or even dialogue with an irrational person? I would rather have a conversation with my slippers or a bar of soap.

    It was like those lurid accusations directed at those space boys just a few weeks ago saying they hacked into soci’s site.

    Do you really think any of their readers believe all that nonsense posted by an anonymous accuser?

    That is the point guys, can see or not? It is really very simple.

  13. outsider said

    don’t waste your resources fighting each other. big brother is watching and sniggering at your civil discontent. better seek common ground and work towards creating more ludicrous wealth for the elites.

    thank you.

  14. shoestring said

    I agree with Outsider. Unless of course there is a hidden agenda in one or more of those parties in the cockpit.

  15. Aaron said

    Dandellion,

    Actually hor, nobody went to look for trouble. Trouble came to the group of bloggers that you mentioned. Perhaps BL felt this issue much more strongly than anyone else because he was explicitly named. I don’t think anyone has a right to tell him how to feel or how to handle the matter because it’s his problem. In anycase, BL is a very forthcoming and upright sort, and anyone who is like that would of course be pissed off at any form of character assasination.

    The episode didn’t sit down well with me too, but I have made my response and, in the words of Voltaire (if you have read one of my recent entries, please bear with me and read it again), “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I do think that what SEW did was really underhand, but I’m not going to stop them from saying anything. Nonetheless, this does not mean me, or BL for that matter, from precluding our rights to retort in a manner that we wish.

  16. deepthroat.sg said

    In an era where PAP party activists are condemned for blogging anonymously in cyberspace, shouldn’t WP party activists be condemned as well for setting up an antiestablishment blog without revealing their connections to the party?

    If the anonymous PAP bloggers are so ethically reprehensible, shouldn’t you be judged by the same yardstick since you refuse to state upfront your ties with the party?

    Whiteshirt or Redshirt, it’s still a black ops.

    Whois search result for http://www.theonlinecitizen.com:

    Registrant:
    **** ***** Andrew Loh
    Blk *** **********
    Singapore, Singapore ****
    Singapore

    Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
    Domain Name: THEONLINECITIZEN.COM
    Created on: 03-Aug-06
    Expires on: 03-Aug-07
    Last Updated on:

    Administrative Contact:
    Koh, Choong Yong choongyong.koh@arcworks.com.sg
    Blk *** ******
    ******* Road
    Singapore, Singapore *****
    Singapore
    (659) *********

    Technical Contact:
    Koh, Choong Yong choongyong.koh@arcworks.com.sg
    Blk *** ******
    ******* Road
    Singapore, Singapore ******
    Singapore
    (659) ********

    Wherein Andrew Loh is a member of the WP Youth Wing, and Koh Choong Yong is the second Vice Chairman of the WP Central Area Committee.

  17. Sarek said

    If people read enough of TheOnlineCitizen, they should agree that it is a neutral blog serving the people and is not particularly for or against any political party. If it is considered to be “anti-establishment” just because it is raising issues the public is concerned with, then something is wrong with the establishment in the first place.

    The PAP party activists are condemned for blogging anonymously in cyberspace because they are trying to serve the party agenda instead of the people’s concern.

  18. Dear Deepthroat.sg

    We have deleted some parts of your comments which provided personal particulars of Andrew and Choong Yong – particulars of telephone numbers and house addresses. We do not find this appropriate.

    You said: “If the anonymous PAP bloggers are so ethically reprehensible, shouldn’t you be judged by the same yardstick since you refuse to state upfront your ties with the party?”

    First of all, no one has ‘refused’ to state their ties with any party.

    Those whom TOC has worked with knows the status of the owner – this includes the writers. As for TOC itself, it is an independent blogsite non-affiliated to any political party. Just because someone may happen to be a member of a party does not mean that what he does is party-related.

    TOC is not antiestablishment – contrary to what you claim.

    You said: “Wherein Andrew Loh is a member of the WP Youth Wing”

    This is incorrect. Please do not make statements which are untrue. Andrew is not a member of the WP Youth Wing.

    Also contrary to what you are insinuating, theonlinecitizen was not and is not an initiative of the Workers’ Party. Neither is it “funded” by the party – as you claimed in your other comment in another blog.

    Choong Yong was our technical advisor in the initial stages of theonlinecitizen being set up. TOC was on another platform initially – a website as opposed to the current blogsite. Even so, Choong Yong’s participation was a brief one and one limited to technicalities of setting up the website.

    His participation ended when TOC moved to the server on solupress. TOC was on solupress for a brief period before moving to its present site under wordpress.

    Thus, your trying to give the impression that CY is heavily involved with TOC is mischievious without any legitimacy or validity.

    You have also made a serious allegation about “a certain party” when you said – in another blog:

    “If so, it seems that the PAP has stolen a march on their opposition counterparts, who are still silent and pretending no one will notice that theonlinecitizen is operated, staffed, and funded by members of a certain party.”

    It would be good if you can clarify what you mean by “operated, staffed and funded”. Are you sayinig that this “certain party” (which I take to mean the WP, in light of your latest comments here), initiated this blogsite and indeed runs this blogsite?

    We hope that you will not make wild allegations without getting your facts right.

    Regards,
    theonlinecitizen

  19. deepthroat.sg said

    Is Andrew Loh now a member of the WP?
    Is Koh Choon Yong a member of the WP?
    Simple answers: Yes, or No?

    If yes, then theonlinecitizen is staffed by members of a certain party.

    Is Koh Choong Yong the Second Vice Chairman of WP’s Central Area Committee? Is he is also an Executive Committee Member and Sub-webmaster of WP Youth Wing? The WP records say so, apparently, here: http://wp.sg/cac/members.htm.

    There, you have the webmaster of the WP Youth Wing administering the website of theonlinecitizen, if that’s what “technical contact” means. And that means theonlinecitizen is operated by members of a certain party.

    Is Andrew Loh a member of the WP Youth Wing? Was he a member of the WP Youth Wing during the period when theonlinecitizen was registered and set up? The WP records say so, apparently, here: wp.sg/youthwing/events/bowling.html.

    Is Andrew Loh the registrant of theonlinecitizen as well as a WP member?

    If yes, then theonlinecitizen is funded by members of a certain party.

    If all the answers to the above questions are yes, then theonlinecitizen IS operated, staffed, and funded by MEMBERS of a certain party.

    Nowhere did the deepthroats of sg insinuate that theonlinecitizen is operated, staffed, and funded by a certain party. We hope you will not misrepresent our words by wilful ommision of words in our statements.

    Next. Does this website state anywhere on its front page or its info page that it is operated and set up by members of a certain party?

    The point – as with the PAP case – is of party operatives participating and molding internet discussion without due disclosure of their identities or affiliations. What difference is there if PAP members post anonymously to defend govt policy, and if opposition members set up a website, solicit articles critical of govt policy – without revealing their identities?

    By the way, since both of you registered theonlinecitizen.com, you will realise that your full contact info would be up for public viewing as well, right?

    http://who.godaddy.com/WhoIs.aspx?domain=theonlinecitizen.com&prog_id=godaddy

  20. Dear Deepthroat,

    This is the first time that you have called yourself “we” as in “We hope you will not misrepresent our words by wilful ommision of words in our statements.”

    Perhaps you would like to identify who your ‘we’ are before we go further?

    Thank you.

    regards,
    theonlinecitizen

  21. deepthroat.sg said

    We aim to bring balance to the blogosphere.

    We are not now, nor have we ever been, members of the PAP.
    We are not now, nor have we ever been, members of the WP.
    We are not now, nor have we ever been, members of the SDP.
    We are not now, nor have we ever been, members of the SDA.
    We are not now, nor have we ever been, members of the MSM.

    Can you say that theonlinecitizen is not now, nor has it ever been operated, staffed, and funded by members of a certain party?

  22. Dear Deepthroat,

    So, who is this “we” that you seem to speak on behalf of?

    And is deepthroat.sg a website?

    Regards,
    theonlinecitizen

  23. tank said

    BL wrote: I don’t think that Singapore Election Watch will give any room for proper debating. As a matter of fact, I find them to be intellectually dishonest by writing that post to intimidate and bully centrist bloggers who do not share the same view as they do.

    Is there such a thing as a centrist blogger? Perhaps so, but only to the extent that such a person has not fully grasped the realities of the PAPtrix matrix. One is either in full slumber, sitting on the fence (ouch!), or truly awake. A centrist blogger is in a state of dis-equilibrium, a fence sitter in a phase of its development, a moment in time in its journey to the end… and sooner of later that journey must end where he has to lean left of right, not in-between. LKY believes that once a person is older, has to face some harsh realities, naturally he/she will begin to appreciate the PAPtrix, for such a person his/her jounrney ends there. For many others it’s the other.

  24. Dear Deepthroat.sg,

    Allow us to correct some errors in your post:

    Is Andrew Loh now a member of the WP?
    Is Koh Choon Yong a member of the WP?
    Simple answers: Yes, or No?
    If yes, then theonlinecitizen is staffed by members of a certain party.

    The answer to the above 2 question is yes. As I have explained, Choong Yong is no longer involved in theonlinecitizen. So, your saying that the blog is ‘staffed’ by members (with an “s” – alluding to Choong Yong also being a ‘staff’) of a certain party is not accurate.

    Is Koh Choong Yong the Second Vice Chairman of WP’s Central Area Committee? Is he is also an Executive Committee Member and Sub-webmaster of WP Youth Wing? The WP records say so, apparently, here: http://wp.sg/cac/members.htm.

    There, you have the webmaster of the WP Youth Wing administering the website of theonlinecitizen, if that’s what “technical contact” means. And that means theonlinecitizen is operated by members of a certain party.

    As we have said, Choong Yong is no longer involved with theonlinecitizen. Thus, your saying that “theonlinecitizen is operated” by and “administered” by the webmaster of the WP Youth Wing of a certain party” is not correct.

    Is Andrew Loh a member of the WP Youth Wing? Was he a member of the WP Youth Wing during the period when theonlinecitizen was registered and set up? The WP records say so, apparently, here: wp.sg/youthwing/events/bowling.html.

    Andrew was never and is not a member of the WP Youth Wing. Taking part in a bowling event organized by the WP Youth Wing does not make one a member of the Youth Wing. I hope that is clear. Your insistence on saying Andrew is a member of the Youth Wing, despite our clarification and your lack of proof to support what you say, shows your lack of concrete substantiation. You see one posting on the Youth Wing website and jump to conclusions?

    Is Andrew Loh the registrant of theonlinecitizen as well as a WP member?
    If yes, then theonlinecitizen is funded by members of a certain party.

    The answer to both question is yes. But you are saying “members” with an ‘s’. That is misleading.And in any case, wordpress is free to use.

    If all the answers to the above questions are yes, then theonlinecitizen IS operated, staffed, and funded by MEMBERS of a certain party.

    Not all the answers to your questions are ‘yes’. Thus, by your own standard, your statement is not accurate nor right.

    Nowhere did the deepthroats of sg insinuate that theonlinecitizen is operated, staffed, and funded by a certain party. We hope you will not misrepresent our words by wilful ommision of words in our statements.

    Our apologies.

    Next. Does this website state anywhere on its front page or its info page that it is operated and set up by members of a certain party?

    As have been explained, this is an independent, non-affiliated blogsite. Thus, we do not feel the need to state what you say. Indeed, most of the writers are either non-party members or write in their own personal capacity.

    The point – as with the PAP case – is of party operatives participating and molding internet discussion without due disclosure of their identities or affiliations. What difference is there if PAP members post anonymously to defend govt policy, and if opposition members set up a website, solicit articles critical of govt policy – without revealing their identities?

    You seem to miss the point that theonlinecitizen was not and is not an initiative of the WP – or any other party or organization. The WP did not send “counter-insurgents” into theonlinecitizen as part of the WP’s internet strategy, unlike the PAP. Thus, your deduction is completely wrong and off the mark.

    As for revealing our identities, the writers know who we are – and even some non-writers know who we are. We have been open about this from the very beginning.

    By the way, since both of you registered theonlinecitizen.com, you will realise that your full contact info would be up for public viewing as well, right?
    http://who.godaddy.com/WhoIs.aspx?domain=theonlinecitizen.com&prog_id=godaddy

    Yes, we are aware of this. However, it is our prerogative to decide what is appropriate to be posted here in this site – as stated very clearly in our statement on the left panel of this blog.

    Lastly, you claim that you “aim to bring balance to the blogosphere” but your factual errors do not reflect this.

    Regards,
    theonlinecitizen

  25. Sarek said

    It is interesting to note that deepthroat only claim he is not member of any political party. He never say if he is a supporter of any political party or any politican.

    To “bring balance to the blogosphere”, we can expect deepthroat to start labeling every blogs as pro-xxx or anti-xxx.

    The balance of the blogosphere is about the neutrality and the objectiveness of the blogs, not whether the blogs are associated with any members of any political party.

    To “aim to bring balance to the blogosphere”, deepthroat has set his approach totally wrong by raising party membership as an issue instead of the content as a issue.

    Is the content of TheOnlineCitizen neutral? Please answer this question honestly. Neutral blogs are where we establish the blogosphere balance for the greater good of the people.

  26. noraA15_lB2 said

    For them who aspire to be centrists and defend to their bones the virtue of their centrist stands, there is a “sage belief” given by the founder of our land, as reproduced in this ST article that hopefully are still etched deeply by the blogosphere:

    *********************************************************
    April 20, 2006
    TELEVISED DIALOGUE WITH YOUNG S’POREANS
    Not all young people think like those at forum, says MM
    By Lydia Lim
    Senior Political Correspondent

    THE man in the middle of the controversy that followed his televised forum with a group of young Singaporeans has said he is not surprised by the polarised reactions.

    But Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew says he would be wary of believing that the views of the 10 young people he met represent those of their generation.

    All 10 who took part in the one-hour forum televised last week, were graduates aged 30 or younger.

    Seven were journalists, two were Singapore Management University undergraduates and one was a publications manager in the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce.

    Mr Lee told The Straits Times yesterday that he believes, over time, these ‘radical English-educated young’ will re-order their priorities.

    ‘They will realise that a large majority of Singaporeans are steeped in their respective Asian cultures, whose core values will not be easily displaced,’ he said in an e-mailed reply to questions.
    *********************************************************

    In the light of this belief, kindly check how “centrist” your views really would be .. or .. unknowingly your priorities or views could have been re-ordered over times and along with tides like a floating block of wood .. ,… you may like to dig in deeply and ponder how solidly-sound your centrists beliefs are..!..:-

  27. Anaughtymous said

    Sarek: The balance of the blogosphere is about the neutrality and the objectiveness of the blogs, not whether the blogs are associated with any members of any political party.

    Very interesting. So it seems that “neutrality and objectiveness” is not necessarily connected with “association with political party” after all. This reminds me of something… oh yes:

    PAP MP Baey Yam Keng: The identity is not important. It is the message that is important

    So why are we supposed to be so worked up that there are anonymous comments out that supposedly written by Pappies, or Wookies or Cheesies? Why not just assess the content to see if it speaks with reason and makes a good case?

  28. Anaughtymous said

    noraA15_lB2’s argument restated:

    The Great Sage–greater than Kwanyin–Kuan Yew says that over time, even the “radical English-educated young” will “re-order their priorities”, therefore, the views of the self-proclaimed “centrists” could also have been re-ordered over times “along with tides like a floating block of wood”; O Great is His Wisdom.

    I think that’s called an “argumentum ad verecundiam” (google for it); probably of the fallacious variety too.

  29. Anaughtymous said

    My third comment already and still nothing is appearing yet…

  30. psascholar said

    You all notice or not, this deepthroat coward only picks on people who cannot defend themselves, they seem to stay well clear away from people like the brotherhood who hammered the crap out of sochi and others. I wonder why dont you go and point your smelly crooked finger at those people and see what happens to you.

  31. Machiavelli said

    Deepthroat.Sg has the intention of intimidating the site authors.

    In this comment and this comment, they show their maliciousness and glee in revealing the exact address and personal particulars of the OnlineCitizen’s authors on Mr Wang’s blog as well as this site. A rationale, mature and responsible commentor would not commit such acts in public web space. Their juvenile comment also reveals the glee in publicising the personal information:

    “By the way, since both of you registered theonlinecitizen.com, you will realise that your full contact info would be up for public viewing as well, right?”

    Yes, the site authors did not use ‘privacy protection’ for their domain Contact Particulars. They should have done so. But this isn’t the fallacy Deepthroat should hope to use as subterfuge, no?

    If this is the path that Deepthroat wishes to take, is this necessary?

    Finally, in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London in 1666, Charles II had the opportunity to rebuild the city to his desire.

  32. Aaron said

    Do I smell a PAPanon in the pretense of the famous Watergate whistleblower? :p (ok, enough of conspiracy theories)

    In anycase, I did deal with the idea of whether identity is at all important in a debate between people and the perils of over-focusing on identity. In this case, it seems to me that my analysis of the negative aspect of identity has been proven true with the insistence of the commenter Deepthroat.sg to base his conclusions solely on the background of a person, and not also taking into account the content/messages put out by the site.

    If anyone is confused about what I’m talking about, read my entry titled “The medium is the message”.

  33. Hi Aaron,

    That was a very well written post about identity.

    But perhaps what I would say is that it might be different for a blogsite which contents are contributed by various people?

    Theonlinecitizen is such a website – where the content is contributed by various members of the public who comes from varied backgrounds, most of whom have no political or party-political affiliations.

    But even for those who have such affiliation, their contribution is in their personal capacity.

    So, how does one ascertain ‘identity’ in such a case?

    I would think – and agree with Sarek – that in such a case, the content itself would be the indentity which readers should use to ‘judge’ the site.

    It would be great to have your views on this.

    Regards,
    theonlinecitizen

  34. Sarek said

    Anaughtymous Says: So why are we supposed to be so worked up that there are anonymous comments out that supposedly written by Pappies, or Wookies or Cheesies? Why not just assess the content to see if it speaks with reason and makes a good case?

    First, I am not worked up on the anonymous comments from PAP. They can be identified easily. Some people have pointed out that they are just repeating the same old views from the mainstream media and it is a silly move from PAP. So why should I worked up?

    Second, are people really worked up on the anonymous comments from PAP? Here is a case of PAP flip-flopping on the anonymous comments topic and some people just like to use this to pick on PAP. Others are seeing this as another attempt by PAP to manage the public with this “counter-insurgent” move and that give them good reason to be angry.

    TheOnlineCitizen and many other blogs out there are working on giving the public alternative views and alternative channels to express themselves.

    How do you feel if someone with a monthly income of $900 and a billionaire both donate $1000 dollars to a charity? Pappies, Wookies and Cheesies are different, people are wise to factor in those differences.

  35. Damn,will this Deepthroat chap get a life and stop his baseless insinuations. There are people here who want to just be informed and not brow-beaten into taking sides.

    So what if there are two camps? Can’t live with it eh? So much for an education system(or not).

  36. Lai CF said

    Well, after GE2006, it looks like the PAP Charm Offense is in full swing.
    Knowing that it is a natural tendency of youths, especially the Millenium Generation tendency to be anti-establishment, it is natural for PAP to start to woo them back to the fold.

    I wonder if the YPAP Discussion Forum had been deliberately reduced from previously serious discussion to the present-day diatribes being posted there…especially a certian Upyrstuk had been monopolizing it without any action whatsoever from the Moderators.

    I perceived Upyrstuk’s strategy at YPAP Forum as follows:
    1) Deliberately reduce the standard of forums to guttersniping and silent that “85% anti-PAP” postings there.
    2) Flaming and deliberately distortion of facts to drown out whatever anti-PAP postings there.

    We may see more and more of this kind of flaming on all the popular blogspots as it is just a war of attrition to wear one’s down.
    E.g. by reducing any serious discussions to the level of guttersniping, it will drive away serious forummers; and serious forummers will have a reduced outlets to ‘voice” their frustrations.

    I am cynical and foresee this 2-prong Cyberspace Warfare:

    1) Reduce all serious discussions like at YPAP Forum to guttersniping and character assassination. It will certainly drive out all seriosu forummers and any hard-hitting anti-PAP psotings will be snow under piles of diatribes.

    2) Start serious discussions and postings like George Yeo and P65; and side-step any flamings or arguments like Goh Meng Seng had the misfortune and forgot how to side-step them like a politician.

    ———————————————————————-

    Anyway, in this era of “Consensus and Open Discussion”, I am surprise at the ineptness of the Opposition to start their very own forum like YPAP Forum and go on the offensive.

    DO one better and start engaging all comers.
    Criteria – actual names msut be psoted to aprticipate in the forum.

    And then we will really know how many forummers are actively participating in CYperspace political discussions:

    Are anti-PAP netizen int ehir hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands?

    My feeling is that we are merely in our hundreds…hence no threat to PAP as we just tolerable, like ant-bites on elephant hide.

  37. Richard said

    A few more commenters (*not* just deepthroat.sg) on Mr Wang’s blog have spoken out regarding The Online Citizen:

    http://mrwangsaysso.blogspot.com/2007/02/leaks-squealers.html#comment-855799163722121600

    http://mrwangsaysso.blogspot.com/2007/02/leaks-squealers.html#comment-4438177361013389123

    They have raised questions about whether TOC is disclosing important conflicts of interests, or information that might lead to that perception.

    It would be good if The Online Citizen can respond to them. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong if (as one of the commenters says) “the WP management will take control of the entire project”. But please don’t hide it — otherwise people will think there is a reason for hiding.

  38. Sarek said

    Richard,

    If some people who participate in an organization (like a church, a temple, a clan association, or a club) network with each each other and decide to go out to do something, like setting up a business or start an action group, does it make sense to speculate that it has anything to do with the organization where they come from? Such kind of networking and new operations are common and people don’t associate the operations with the organization. If some people don’t want to see things as simple as this, explaining to them is unlikely to do any good at all.

    Regards.

  39. Dear Richard,

    Thank you for the heads-up. We are aware of the discussion going on in Mr Wang’s blog.

    We have responded to it here.

    Thank you and happy new year… 🙂

    Regards,
    theonlinecitizen

  40. Richard said

    TheOnlineCitizen, I am a bit confused by your response. Is it possible for you to clarify further?

    Sarek, I think the issue is one of declaring conflicts of interest. If I own shares in a company, and then report on that company in a newsletter, should the share ownership be declared?

    I think it is okay if Workers’ Party members are running TheOnlineCitizen. But this should be declared, especially since they are covering WP events (e.g. the Penal Code forum) and events by WP’s competitors (e.g. PAP P65 GST forum).

  41. Sarek said

    Richard,

    Yes, some people have issue with disclosure topic. It would be appropriate we consider this topic in the context of the neutral nature of TOC and its referencing other articles on the blogosphere to give public a diverse views of current issues.

    Regards.

  42. KuKuBoY said

    “But even for those who have such affiliation, their contribution is in their personal capacity.”

    TOC, the fact that the people running this website have chosen an affiliation, demonstrates that they hold values and political views sympathetic to a certain party. yes, u may claim that essays written by WP members on the website are not endorsed by the WP, u may even claim that the essays themselves are completely unbiased.

    But a statement like “TOC is non-partisan and is not affiliated to any organisation – political or otherwise” is a rather disingenuous claim u make towards your readers.

    If you will admit to being part of the WP, then u should come clean with your political affiliation and defend it with pride. There is no shame in shying away from declaring ur political allegiance – in fact, it can be a source of strength.

    For instance, many top blogs in the US are known to explicitly support political parties. and they do well because they have a consistent, easily identifiable voice.

    there is no such thing as absolute unbiasedness. don’t fall into the trap of thinking that TOC can be an unbiased site.

  43. Dear KuKuBoy,

    Thank you for visiting theonlinecitizen and giving us your views.

    To be honest, this is an issue which we have discussed – quite thoroughly, and one which we had pondered on for a long time before we went online.

    We honestly appreciate the many views – both supportive and not supportive of TOC – regarding this issue.

    Theonlinecitizen will consider all views and act accordingly – if necessary.

    Regards,
    theonliniecitizen.

  44. Markus

    It was quite useful reading, found some interesting details about this topic. Thanks.

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