a community of singaporeans

Wee Shu Min, Li Hongyi…nothing is sacred anymore with the net

Posted by theonlinecitizen on July 24, 2007

By Yeo Toon Joo

Does the internet and its speed and openness change the way we communicate?

Of course, the internet has drastically altered the norms and practices of open communication, and even private conversation. It opens a pandora’s box! Anything you wish to disseminate or promulgate, idiotic or edifying, can be done instantly by just hitting a button.

It has changed forever the channels through which we communicate, and the way we communicate, and say things.

Anyone can have his soap box to cast his pearls or spew garbage. No blog, and even email between friends and associates, is considered private. Nothing is sacred anymore.

Everything, even with the laws on defamation and libel, can be aired and exposed, which to a large extent is also good: oppressive, dictatorial regimes will find it more difficult to cover up misdeeds, at least to a literate, internet savvy/accessible society.

What is credible?

The dictum, however, remains unchanged: misinformation and disinformation travel faster than information.

Now with the mushrooming of blogs, you open the floodgates to the “publish and be damned” group as well as those who have sensible and beneficial things to say, and who know how to say it sensibly and sensitively. The problem for most who log on is which is a credible blog?

Many bloggers who are serious people with meaningful things to say, and who have an interest and stake in society’s good, are normally more measured in what they post on their blogs. Unlike those who do not have much to say, but say it anyway: they publish what they like whether true or false, useful or hurtful; who cares!

The blog following public can tell, over time, which worthwhile blogs to go into. Of course, there are many others who go into mischievous or titillating blogs for a flutter, a cheap thrill. They help these blogs to flourish for a time.


Some blogs (e.g. TOC), though not a majority, exercise a great deal of care and are circumspect in what they write and publish.

So social-political blogs believe in the cause and good of society, and strive to help it be better informed and more reflective on the goings on of and in our Singapore society – governing and governed – and matters that are to the good of society in general.

TOC considers carefully before publishing an article. Every item, even if controversial, must have merit before it is cleared for posting on TOC’s blog. Of course, visitors’ comments are not vetted the same way, except when they give cause for serious offence or risk breaking the law.

Hazards of blogging

Two examples of the hazards of blogging and emailing are the recent furore over the protest letter/email by prime minister Lee Hsien Loong’s son, Li Hongyi, and the less recent Wee Shu Min controversy following her offensive response to Derek’s lament about job opportunities in Singapore.

We still need to know the fuller facts behind Li Hongyi’s action, even with all the postings and comments flying over the blogosphere; things do not always meet the eye!

But both cases provide evidence that nothing is private or sacrosanct on the internet. So, if you write anything on your (private?) blog or send/circulate an email, be prepared to see it disseminated to all and sundry.

In the case of Wee Shu Min: if she is as intelligent as she should be, then the controversial, vituperative piece she penned on the job opportunity moanings by Derek, betrays a lack of not only sensitivity and good judgment, but may also indicate certain character flaws.

Certainly, for me, it rings some alarm bells for Singapore over our young generation of privileged Singaporeans.

A platform for all

We have people of all colours and creed, and different ilk. The internet gives a platform to all, including those who would have made ready recruits for Hitler’s Nazi Youth arm and the Ku Klux Klan of America‘s rabidly racist South. The internet places almost unbridled power in their hands to publish whatever they wish, including views detrimental to society.

Because there is no immediate censorship, bloggers or internet correspondents are definitely emboldened to say more, and with less restraint. Few realise that the wise are people with fewer words. Many bloggers definitely do fit this description.

You can publish almost anonymously, though anyone who persists in publishing rubbish or misleading and harmful information risk being exposed sooner or later. I believe internet policing, though not that slick, is not all that slack.

A blessing

Overall, the internet is a blessing in so many ways. Blogging was a natural progression or outcome, even if few had envisaged that.

Its impact on the world has been phenomenal. But, as stated earlier, the majority of Singaporeans are not yet using the internet or hooked up to the furious debates flying over the blogosphere.

It would be a mistake for some to think that what they read on the internet represents popular opinion, or for others to ignore the views aired as those of an insignificant minority.

This article was written as a reply to questions from the Straits Times.



13 Responses to “Wee Shu Min, Li Hongyi…nothing is sacred anymore with the net”

  1. Lai CF said

    Its impact on the world has been phenomenal. But, as stated earlier, the majority of Singaporeans are not yet using the internet or hooked up to the furious debates flying over the blogosphere.

    I think there is only a few hundreds of us active in Cyperspace; not even a thousand.

    And it is “gnat-bites” as compared to mainstream broadsheet.

    And our impact is still minimal, hence the freedom we are enjoying over here….unrestraint..till another Philip Yeo – A*Star episode or Mr. brown TODAY Column “firing a shot across the bow” kind of warning, indirectly saying “TONE DOWN OR ELSE!!!”

    Enjoy while it lasts as technology exists that can cut-off “unwanted website” like when I was in DUbai…and I can’t access one of the “Sammyboy”..because it is on the “unwanted list”…

  2. Robert HO said


  3. Lai CF said

    Robert, don’t you think that on the other side of the coin, you are “otracise”?

    A non-person, who didn’t exist, let the memory be wiped out from public record, let his name be not mentioned.”..(A ROman senator who ahd been ousted in Imperial Rome.)

  4. mrbiao said

    Internet policing is not as slack as many believe it to be. Our internet surfing activities are all logged and should there be a need, authorities can pull up records anytime to find out our online activities. How else can they track criminals? If they can track criminals, then they can track anybody.

    I was once told by an industry insider that even our searches on search engines are tracked.

  5. Numb Already said

    “How else can they track criminals? If they can track criminals, then they can track anybody”

    In our very well “behaved” and “control” Singapore internet universe, there is a positive to this. As Mr Biao puts it, this has allowed our law enforcment agencies to track criminals down quickly. However, many will argue that the flip-side is whether this will engender the “police state” fear. No wonder, many internet savvy users remain, at best, surfers or passive “participants”. But we are a young “internet state” and we’re maturing, and hopefully, credibly. Keep up the good work, TOC!

  6. thinking out loud said

    a chief scribe talks about chasing rodents. these rodents are evil and can infect communities with fatal diseases, so he said. therefore, let’s use legislation and kill them before they kill us with their diseases. wow. that’s deep.
    now let’s see. can we apply this same logic to lies?
    lies come in different form and weightage.
    a lie coming from a retard does not pose as much harm as let say…a lie coming from pharisaical leaders with much greater responsibilities over lives?
    what can such lies potentially do to a community if not rectified?

    cause destruction to lives? families? suicides? bankrupts? false imprisonment? wars? environmental destruction? etc?

    now how about those who knew about these damaging lies and not do anything to correct it?

    should they turn to legislation to wield out all these evil doers and evil ignorers because….wow, they are ‘criminals’ and accessory to crimes?

    robert, are sure they are liars out there? because, it sounds very serious base on scribe’s logic you know.

  7. No worms please said

    If laws are so freely used to curb what perceived as obstruction to one’s ‘order’ and ‘morality’. I hope, the same legistrative powers will also come up with laws to punish people who lie on official duties or to the masses too.

    Lies in fact, are more fatal than any known disseases in the world.

    I hope this country can implement this as soon as possble for the sake of businesses and society!

    All books opened to be fair, and the world can learn from us of course.

  8. social observer said

    yeah, those who teach the masses like at national level hor and not practice what they preach should be punish jail fine!

    hypocrites are the worse corrupters in the world so say a good book.

    and i like

  9. wondering said

    talking about laws for every damn thing under heavens.

    imagine, if your mother scold you, and you not happy hearing, you slap your mother or say things like, you say thing i dont like and very disrectful so now it gives me right to kill you or lock you up in your home so you can’t come out and see the world.

    tsk tsk tsk, the kind of wicked people who justify wrongs and even crime. who give them the right hah?

  10. hellooo said there a book of life or lies written somewhere? anyone care to educate and enlighten?

  11. Clarence said

    I agree that nothing is sacrosanct on the Internet anymore. I learnt it the hard way when some people outside the regular community of my readers of my own “private” blog started yakking about me. Now that blog is passworded, but then I think it is still unsafe. I had a “really private” blog (unsearchable by Google and having a really long nonsensical name which doesn’t make sense) but have since deleted it.

    I think people are better off penning their thoughts in a notebook if they want them to remain truly private. Just my two cents’ worth =)

  12. LifesLikeThat said

    Anyone who blogs and lets his blog be public but who thinks his blog is private obviously has a screw loose in his head.

  13. domtheclown said

    SO… Wee Swee Kim sorry or not? He again stated that his daughter’s blog was quoted ‘OUT OF CONTEXT’ and a maelstrom was kicked up not because of her fault! He’s now denying his second apology!!!!

    WHAT THE F***???!!!!!

    *Comments edited by editor

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: