a community of singaporeans

From blogger to politician – in Singapore?

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 12, 2008

In the recent Malaysian elections, blogger Jeff Ooi stood as a candidate for the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) in Penang’s Jelutong Parliamentary seat and won. His margin of victory was a whopping 16,246 votes. (The Star)

It was Ooi’s first attempt in an election.

Will we see Singapore bloggers doing a Jeff Ooi, entering the political fray as candidates?

The New Paper (March 12, 2008) interviewed theonlinecitizen’s writers Gerald Giam and Leong Sze Hian for their views on this. (Click here)

Gerald’s view:

If you survey the socio-political blogs in Singapore, you will find many bloggers who love Singapore and want to change Singapore for the better. I’m sure at least a few of them will be willing to take the next step to enter politics. That could only be good for Singapore.”

Sze Hian’s view:

“The strength of the local blogging community is that they are non-political. Once you have bloggers entering politics, it undermines the purity of blogging, because bloggers are supposed to be neutral.”

What are your own views? Please feel free to discuss and post your comments.


Below is the full transcript of Gerald’s interview with The New Paper, as posted on his own blog, Singapore Patriot.

TNP: Because of their highly-regulated media, many Malaysians have turned to political blogs such as Jeff Ooi’s as credible alternatives to mainstream media. Do you feel the same thing could happen with Singapore?

Gerald: The migration from TV and newspapers to the Internet is already happening in Singapore. I believe this is because there are so many ‘information and opinion gaps’ left by the mainstream media on local issues. Local media often fail to provide balanced reporting and commentary on events and issues that put the Government or the ruling party in a bad light.

Singapore‘s media is as regulated, if not more so, than the Malaysian media. Is it any wonder that many Singaporeans are increasingly turning to socio-political blogs for news, commentary and analysis? And it’s not just young Singaporeans. I know of a number of older Singaporeans who are also regular readers of socio-political blogs.

TNP: M’sian bloggers like Jeff Ooi have managed to enter the realm of politics and even raise funds through their blogs. Do you see this happening in Singapore?

Gerald: If you survey the socio-political blogs in Singapore, you will find many bloggers who love Singapore and want to change Singapore for the better. I’m sure at least a few of them will be willing to take the next step to enter politics. That could only be good for Singapore.

As for raising funds, I’m not sure if Singapore‘s electoral laws allow online fundraising. But I definitely think online fundraising should be allowed. Even Barack Obama, the US Presidential candidate, raised a large amount from grassroots supporters through the Internet, instead of relying on big businesses for his campaign donations.

TNP: How far would you go with controversial and possibly politically-sensitive comments on your blog? Where do you draw the line?

Gerald: I would draw the line on any comment that is illegal, which is not in Singapore’s national interests, or which could get me terminated from my job. This, of course, does not mean that I will refrain from expressing my opinions on policies that I feel are wrong for Singapore. I think so far I have been extremely cautious in what I write.



20 Responses to “From blogger to politician – in Singapore?”

  1. LifesLikeThat said

    Maybe Mr Brown should stand for election. Or Mr Wang. Or Leong Sze Hian. I will sure vote for them.

  2. BlackTeeShirt said

    I second Mr Brown. No more the infantile

  3. kelly said

    Mr. Brown – hands down!!

  4. jokernthief said

    Mr Brown is a good mass appeal funny complainer but no substance. Mr Wang is much better.

  5. Kaffein said

    Vote for MB! Leader of the No Ter Kwa party!

    But seriously, it was a mistake for any government to clamp down on socio-political blogs. And also on using podcasts during SGP GE2000. It’s like forbidden fruit. The more the government says no, the more the blogging community will defy the call and publish online.

    *shrug* probably this will signal new changes in socia-political blogging in Singapore.


  6. Dead Poet said

    Judging from the coverage appearing in the MSM, it definitely appears that the Malaysian election results have caused fears for the MIW for their golden rice bowls and their unquestioned capability. Now the Malaysian results are being used to reinforce the climate of fear which have always been one of the key pillars of their success.

    The drop in the KLSE is being magnified and the only reason they provide is the opposition win has undermining the economy and invester confidence. I believe this is a knee jerk reaction as there are other factors to consider as well. Many are selling off investments in BN linked companies as their preferencial position would be in question. Others have adopted the approach to study the attitude of major investers. It is far too early to make a judgement. The KLSE will rise to much higher levels as the opposition makes the government accountable and forces transparency. An open market will attract invester confidence and that would spell a no-confidence vote for the MIW given all their blunders.

  7. Expected Analysis said

    Singaporeans must thank Malaysians for their boldness and bravery in voting decisively against the BN govt.

    A govt that does not listen to the voices of the people should not be given the mandate to govern the people.

    A govt that taxes the people unnecessarily must be taken to task for the unjustified policy.

    A govt that does not practise real transparency and accountability must be legislated to do so by the people.

    A govt that uses “high cost of living policies” to favour wealth creation for the rich must be opposed by the people.

    A govt that manipulates policies to deprive citizens of subsidies such as healthcare means testing must be challenged by the people.

    A govt that does not take responsibility for its lapses or mistakes cannot justify its astronomical pay which cannot be justified in the first place.

    A govt that engages part-time MPs cannot be a serious govt. Taxpayers’ money is not spent justifiably.

    A govt that controls the mass media for its own purposes cannot term itself a democratic party. It’s insulting its own intelligence.

    A govt that is running businesses cannot be called a govt. It should be incorporated as “Govt Services Pte Ltd” and subject to shareholders’ (Singaporeans) vote and appointments. Profits have to be declared and distributed accordingly.

    A govt that expects the citizens to sacrifice but not themselves is an illegitimate govt.

    A govt that rewards ministers’ bonus based on the economic performance perpetuates policies that are detrimental to its citizens.

    Ministers and MPs who give speeches during parliamentary debates instead of raising hard questions and rooting for in-depth answers are simply doing themselves and Singaporeans gross disfavours. Their presence are simply a waste of time.

    After raising some issues and very curtailed speech, always ends with,

    “Mr Speaker sir, I support the motion.”


  8. screwtape said


    Minister Wang? Minister Brown? Minister Giam?

    Please. I said it once and I will say it again. They are gutless and fearful of losing their well-endowed lives.

  9. James said

    Sze Hian’s view:

    “The strength of the local blogging community is that they are non-political. Once you have bloggers entering politics, it undermines the purity of blogging, because bloggers are supposed to be neutral.”

    Interesting. I would like to ask Sze Hian what are his views then of Choo Zheng Xi being a honorarium recipient from a PAP Minister? Does that mean he is no longer neutral?

  10. […] Posted by The Singapore Daily on 13 March 2008 Malaysia Elections – …thrills, spills & flatliners: Possible Teething Problems? – Diary of A Singaporean Mind: See what the Opposition is doing to Malaysia! – The Maxima: Blogs & Elections – Rising political pluralism will be good for Malaysia’s economy and stock market – Singapore Patriot: Transcript of New Paper Interview – Sam’s thoughts: Pardon my “PAP supporter” face! – The Online Citizen: From blogger to politician – in Singapore? […]

  11. patriot said

    I am in full agreement with Mr Leong Sze Hian that most bloggers and commenters in the Sociopolitical Segments are neutral. There are wishes in the minds of these people that there exist an ‘ideal oppositions’, which will perform to the ‘standards’ expected by these bloggers and commenters.

    There are no doubt that many are concerned and interested in the wellbeings and welfares of the people and the country. Unfortunately, even all these kind souls have much differences in their ideas on how to go about it.

    The Malaysian Masses are far more cohesive as a people, conversely Singaporean elites(well educated/highly successful), be they in the Ruling Parties or elsewhere, are themselves fractious and incline to want to outshine one anothers. Lamentable, but the ‘show of success’, to be visibly flambuoyant(showmanship) is generally a characteristic of a typical Singaporean today. The 5 Cs of yesteryears has bred and inculcated this ‘hou lieness'(boastful/conceited) attitude. It is an attitude flaw that is not going away anytime soon but getting stronger as time goes by.

    Noticed in this piece here how some commenters imposed or insist which bloggers are better choices? Can we deny that within three commenters, there are three choices? And what if the three form or join different parties? Hey, have You not read commenters slamming bloggers and commenters mauling each other with expletives? Elites; You can unite? Ask yourself!

  12. desapar said

    I envy Tony Pua, who is an old RI schoolmate …. and I’m a little jealous that he’s M’sian rather than Singaporean.

    We could use a few more intelligent firebrands like him. How come he can come up from the same education system as us, and yet we don’t have (as many) people like that?

    Is it because our national issues are not quite as compelling as over there? Or is it because too many have been assimilated by the system?

    Mr Wang btw is a civil servant….I doubt he’d stand for office.

  13. Mun Kit said

    the IRONY!
    TNP actually can say due to their ‘highly-regulated’ media, when Singapore’s media is ranked lower in terms of freedom!

    Malaysia is ranked 129, and Singapore is 145th or around there.

  14. antz said

    Tony pua gave away a high-paying job in S’pore to pursue his political pursuit to amends his country policies that he thinks is unjust.

    He is an Asean scholar and joined DAP. I frequently visited M’sian blogs.
    M’sian blogs, to be frank is more open.Most young bloggers from comments i have read wants changes in the country system.Some I have noted almost everyday contributed comments and end up being regular.

    M’sian bloggers are more united with a kinda lingkage with each other mostly i can see is anti-govt.
    The loss of 5 states recently in my point of view is due to high numbers of M’sian households having internet connection.They do not trust M’sian medias and in turn,turn to blogs for views.

  15. Daniel said

    Can anyone (maybe from Online Citizen) explain what happen to those money that gain from public sellout of Singapore companies that are built on Singapore’s taxpayer money ?

    Imagine the profitability from these companies sellout could easily top the S$1.8 billions surplus of 40% GST hike needed to help the poor. Did the government know about this potential sellout ?

    These are taxmoney properties and why are they pumped it back to Temasek so easily and without question ? Why this isn’t return to public to help Singaporean ?

    China’s Huaneng buys Singapore’s Tuas Power for $3 bln (Singapore $4.2 billions)

    If this is the indicator, more Singapore government companies might even sellout for profitability. So where the accountability and transparency of the deal ? Give the account of how these profit is utilized for Singapore rather than for coffers’ benefit and salary.

  16. Daniel said

    Who give the government the right to sellout a Singapore companies that belong to taxpayer for profitability to a foreign country especially a strategic important company to generate electricity ? Can a government sell a utility company without accountability to a public ? Why is there no opposition party oppose such a deal ?

    Why then the government increase electricity fees some months ago while knowing that such a sellout is potential ? Is it to increase its market value for higher sellout ?

    Please don’t tell us it is for our own good again !

  17. Daniel said

    *Comments unapproved.*

    Daniel, please keep to the topic of the article. Your comments about Tuas Power being sold to a Chinese company has nothing to do with bloggers becoming politicians. Thanks. – Moderator

  18. Daniel said

    Online citizen, hope the comments I put will be placed into suitable and related topic since there is currently no topic that talk about selling national asset company to foreign country.

  19. […] Blogs & Elections – Singapore Patriot: Transcript of New Paper Interview – The Online Citizen: From blogger to politician – in Singapore? – Rising political pluralism will be good for Malaysia’s economy and stock market […]

  20. Dingo said

    I don’t know about bloggers turning into politicians, but there sure are a few politicians in Singapore turning into bloggers!

    That’s good though. At least you get to know their thoughts on matters without having to book a kopitiam appointment that either one of you will be late for.

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