a community of singaporeans

Bloggers’ group proposes sweeping changes in Internet regulation

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 18, 2008


For immediate release

By Choo Zheng Xi and Alex Au

18 April 2008

Bloggers’ group proposes sweeping changes in Internet regulation

A group of committed bloggers will submit recommendations to the Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts within the next few days, on the subject of Internet regulation. This open letter, which will be released to the public at the same time, will call for sweeping changes to bring Singapore in line with international norms and the reality of the new technology.

Its key proposals include:

1. All regulation of speech should be platform-neutral, given the steady convergence of various platforms as a result of the digital revolution. There should not be different rules for different media.

2. Platform-neutral regulations should be harmonised to be as minimal as the current freest platform, if not even freer.

3. What rules there need to be should be narrowly tailored and should serve clear social purposes.

4. Rules should take the form of unambiguous laws, and in extremis, violators prosecuted, rather than take the form of licensing, bureaucratic discretion and administrative penalties as currently is the case. The various licensing schemes and the Media Development Authority’s powers to fine and ban should be dismantled.

5. Shielding a government from criticism is not a legitimate social purpose. Restraining political content is unjustified in principle and unrealistic in practice, and the attempt to do so impairs Singapore‘s maturity as a nation.

6. The group notes that there are plenty of laws that need to be amended or repealed to give effect to the recommendations, such as the Broadcasting Act, the Parliamentary Elections Act and the Films Act. As this may take time, the group proposes that in the interim, there could be an Internet Freedom Act that sets out clear guarantees for Internet freedom, over-riding the multiple (and sometimes conflicting) restrictions in all these other laws, regulations and codes of practice.

7. The group advocates a much bigger role for community moderation and in fact sees an ongoing trend wherein site owners themselves ensure a responsible use of their digital space. To further this process, the group suggests that an Internet Community Consultative Committee (IC3) be set up comprising one-third independent content providers, one-third persons familiar with rapidly evolving digital technologies, and one-third regular consumers of Internet content (i.e. regular surfers). They should not have any legal powers, but serve as a regular meeting point for citizens concerned with the free and responsible use of digital media.

8. Controversies relating to Internet speech should as far as possible be resolved via community moderation. Only when public safety is at serious risk should the law and prosecution be invoked.

The group of 15 persons was led by Choo Zheng Xi from The Online Citizen and Alex Au of Yawning Bread, and started work in December last year.

Alex Au says, “The government often posits freedom and responsibility as trade-offs. We disagree. It is the exercise of freedom that nurtures a sense of responsibility, so if we want Singapore‘s digital space to be mature and responsible, we must give it the freedom to grow.”

Choo Zheng Xi says, “Internet technology is borderless and every day, people learn new ways of getting around our petty rules. The trend is towards the unenforceability of MDA’s rules. In the long run, it will damage the credibility of the law to have all sorts of meaningless rules that are unrealistic and largely seen as illegitimate. It is urgent that we trim the thicket.”

Alex Au says, “The technology is such that as things stand, individual bloggers find it easy to ignore the rules; they are not going to be deterred by them. The people who are going to be deterred are those considering making a significant investment whether in film, online or other expression. The arbitrariness of administrative control and the absence of clear avenues of appeal to independent courts of law, provide no legal certainty. The present system is perverse, contradicting our aim of being a vibrant media hub.”

For more details,

Choo Zheng Xi,

Alex Au Waipang,



37 Responses to “Bloggers’ group proposes sweeping changes in Internet regulation”

  1. inspir3d said

    nice work. i look forward to the official release

  2. Dr Syed Alwi said

    I would really like to see what LKY and LHL thinks about this ! I suppose CSJ will jump with glee and deservedly so.

  3. Elfred said

    Internet is like this…

    It concerns the UN charter in a way such as…

    If MM wants to tekan Andrew for posting in WordPress server, and the ‘by-right’ location of the server or WordPress group is in USA, then USA lawyers and courts will have to question Singapore’s courts for bankrupting Andrew where the money should go to USA.

    After all, USA spent so much to training and feeding the judges, the lawyers and wordpress teams n the server is the publisher and claims an unique copyright in this.

    It’s actually more than that. Hahahahahaha… Hence when Singapore wanna regulate internet, n justice must be justified, this must not be overlooked.

    Besides, if you write a diary be it keeping your book at home, left it on the streets, or… online, it’s only natural justice it is a private entity, unless so declared as an journalistic effort.

    I suppose the gahmen’s main concern is still about opposition’s site. Malaysiakini has done a great job… What if SDP’s site is as wonderful? Hahahahahaha…

  4. joehancl said

    NO way, people. You are my children, I have taken care of you since you were babies. What am I going to do? I cannot simply retire and die. I live in the glory of governing you. I excel in it. Leaders of other nations come to me for advice. I would not know how to spend my time in retirement. So NO freedom in cyberspace. I have spoken. Your FATHER, lky.

  5. macktheknife said

    me too looking forward….press on!!

  6. Darkness said

    We weren’t even consulted.

    Darkness 2008

    If you censor this, we can more or less consider it a declaration of war. Dont say I never bothered to inform you.

  7. Darkness said

    I hope this will not take 10 days to be posted.

  8. Darkness said

    I asked a very reasonable question.

    Darkness 2008

  9. Internet Newbies. said

    Well done chaps. Go ahead. Full support from us.

    Laws should be used to protect the weak from the strong. It should never be used to protect the strong (especially those who have powers) against the weak (the common citizens who are powerless). If it is so, then the laws are perverse and illegitimate.

    The voices of the people should not be drowned or shut by the use of cunningly engineered laws to serve the selfish interest of the ruling political party alone.

    A political party is never bigger than the nation and the sum of its people combined.

    A ruling political party, elected by the people of the land, should be subordinated to the people and not the other way round. If it is so, then the ruling political party is in contempt of its people and therefore going against the nation.

  10. Aidil Omar said

    Timely good news. We must press on. You have my unconditional support.

  11. […] See: “Bloggers’ Grop Proposes Sweeping Changes In Internet Regulation,” by Choo Zheng Xi and Alex Au [media release]. theonlinecitizen, 18 Apr 2008. […]

  12. ngejay said

    Very good work. I love it already.

  13. ordinaryman said

    GREAT, thump up….full support.(with condition)hahahahah…

  14. joker said

    Online citizen says:

    8 “Controversies relating to Internet speech should as far as possible be resolved via community moderation.”

    Lee Kuan Yew says:

    “there’s no such thing as Singapore culture”

    Suggested amendment to proposal eight: “Controversies relating to Internet speech should as far as possible be resolved by community modulation.”

  15. Fever Guy said

    Hey Darkness,

    Why must TOC consult you? You from Underground Society is it? Coming here to threaten who?


  16. Gerald said


    Regarding public consultations, there was a general invitation put out (in December, I believe) to all socio-political bloggers to be part of this committee. The group that came up with this proposal consists of the people who responded. We don’t claim to represent all bloggers, but only ourselves.

    Having said that we are planning how we can better get the rest of blogsphere involved in this. There is still much work to do to expound on and debate the issues/proposals we have raised.

    Any suggestions from fellow bloggers on how we should best do this would be much appreciated.

  17. Clarification. said

    Isn’t this exposure part of the whole consultation process?
    If anyone has got anything to add or refute, he can always write to the emails provided in the above article directly to seek for the details and then to give his inputs. It is not too late. It is only just the beginning. I don’t see a problem here.

    P/S: I understand that there was an open request in Nov 2007 for anyone interested to come forward at a meeting in Dec 2007. It was published by TOC as well. Whoever interested in this should have turned up then, isn’t it?

  18. Darkness said

    You know what FG, you’re 100% right. You know what? I am going to take your recommendation and retract everything I just said, stick a dummy sign on my back and get back in my car and drive back where I came from. How’s that?

    You ppl can do what you like.

    [There’s no way I can possibly have a decent conversation here; it takes over 12 hours for what I write to be posted here. You go and ask the folk in TOC why? – bye bye]

    Darkness 2008

  19. CelluloidReality said

    There is a Singapore culture. But it is being undermined.

  20. Elfred said


    There is no Singapore culture, yet. I said this before, even argued recently in YPforum with Panter. Hahahaha…

    It’s not yet, so it’s for creation. Mr Lee said he not expect it till hundreds of years… but maybe other people see it possible faster, like myself. Hahahahahahahahaha…


    Internet’s 江湖大事 should remain in cyberspace. Who is Singapore to try set a regulation in cyberspace which is shared by the world, right? So I hope the new law minister no be the scapegoat for this intervention.

  21. CelluloidReality said


    To each his own, lah.

  22. Weijia said

    Who are you darkness? the anger is great in you, i sense… lol.

    why don’t u introduce yourself before you “drive back where you came from”. i’m sorry but i must confess the name that you hide behind (darkness) is not familiar to me.

  23. Elfred said


    Yeah~ But… the message was not targetted at you, inspite your name is mentioned.

    You have got to get more used to this kinda ‘communication’.

    Nice day~

  24. Fever Guy said

    I believe you too wants the best for singapore. Same as well.

    It is never too late for a new proposal if the first one fails. I mean you can still participate in it with u chairing the event. I don think the current proposal will be taken lightly by the gahment but i am sure nothing concrete will come out of it as you know GE2011 is still far away. The gahment wont endorse anything yet which may disadvantage them too soon, Remember most of the MIW are not internet savvy and they themselves are fearful of being under the spotlight of their stupid policies and failings they created are to be discussed by bloggers 24hrs a day. They will not try to hang dirty linen out too soon for the netizens.

    Cheers to the G15 bloggers!

  25. CelluloidReality said


    Then tell the person you disagree with, without this kind of disambiguation.

    *rolls eyes*

    …Liao si kang hai yah.

  26. To Alex and Zheng Xi, my sincere appreciation!

    Keep it up guys!

    If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well!

    As always, there’ll be those who would try to sabotage a good thing going.

    To the wet blankets and eLeetists who feels threatened or neglected for not being consulted I, like Aaron of, would say, “Pleeze get your uncaring elite faces out of mine!” Elite faeces are nothing more than faeces or are the aka shit face? 😉

    The times, they are a-changing . . .

    For the better!


  27. patriot said

    Hi all;

    May I say that I do not see a need to pre-empt the Issue of Internet Regulation.

    It is indeed possible for Bloggers to react after the Regulations are made public by the Authority. It appears that the Blogging Community sees itself as having some bargaining powers, personally I agree. But why not bargain after a price is quoted or made known? What is the Reason(s) for the Rush?

    I do not see the Authority having the audacity to ‘totally contain’ the Blogging Community and cripple it and make it totally impotent. If the measures are too restrictive and unacceptable, I believe the Internet Community will not accept them and counter measures including bargaining shall then come in. A little patience will yield better result, I think.

    Yours sincerely:


  28. guojun said

    Studying overseas lah. No wonder i couldn’t make it…anyway, i’m waiting for your official release too!

    guojun/the truth

  29. Liyuen said

    It may be a good idea to look at what this Darkness or Darth Vader character is saying. I am not saying I agree with him or Yawning Bread etc. I have not decided, but I have been to Aaron’s blog recently and what he says seems to stick in my brain like chewing gum.

    However I dont believe this guy will stick around, from what I see, he even seems to be fighting with his own ppl who want him to shut up, these bad boy types are usually very tempremental, like Italian sportscars, a bit bo gham, they will just take off, thats a real pity as blogosphere really needs every bit of grey matter to see itself through these challenging times, otherwise how do we go beyond settling differences?

    Oh well, for what its worth 3 cheers to the G15 bloggers! Keep up the good fight!

  30. Ong Lei Kit said

    Good initiative, but how inclusive and participatory and representative was it?

  31. Ong Lei Kit said

    As much as I support the G15. I dont agree they are wet blankets or eLEEtist just bc they highlight something as obvious as wat was mentioned, if you cannot take the heat of debate, then get out of the kitchen or go set fire to yourself, but pls dont stop ppl from airing their views or try to threaten them with WSM type mob lynching threats just bc you have a different view from them. It will not work with this bhpress idiot, his grass root support is too strong, have you ever considered how many lonely and dysfunctional ladies typically read the rubbish he passes off as novels?

  32. Awesome dudes!

  33. […] by The Singapore Daily on 21 April 2008 We Don’t Need No Regulation – The Online Citizen: Bloggers’ group proposes sweeping changes in Internet regulation – Singapore Patriot: Bloggers to call for bold changes to new media regulation – Hear Ye! Hear Ye!: […]

  34. […] couple of days and, coincidentally, I read that our local bloggers have taken it upon themselves to propose sweeping changes with regards to Internet regulation to the Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts. I’ll be the first to admit that […]

  35. […] Don’t Need No Regulation – The Online Citizen: Bloggers’ group proposes sweeping changes in Internet regulation – Singapore Patriot: Bloggers to call for bold changes to new media regulation – Hear Ye! Hear Ye!: […]

  36. I think it’s time for me to clarify some things.

    First of all, we never said that our proposal was meant to be representative of all views. That, frankly, is impossible. The nature of the Internet has made it so. We made an open call in November 2007 to get as many people as possible; the 15 people who showed up for the first meeting were the ones who were involved in the paper. The fifteen of us worked out what we thought was best for Singapore’s Internet community, knowing full well that we couldn’t possibly represent every view. That being said, we tried to be as democratic and inclusive as possible, hence the release of the open letter. We have never closed the door on anyone, but only fifteen people walked in. Now, we look forward to your support and suggestions, to compensate for this.

    Secondly, we were unable to check back on this piece on a regular basis. Most of the bloggers are working adults, each with his blog to tend to. The others are mostly students, who had to study for upcoming examinations. I’m serving National Service. The demands on our time preclude checking on this article to reply to anyone’s comments. If anybody had felt slighted by our lack of replies, I apologise on behalf of the group.

    Thirdly, thanks for all your support. We hope that our proposal would be considered, and maybe even accepted, by the powers that be.

  37. joehancl said

    “Thirdly, thanks for all your support. We hope that our proposal would be considered, and maybe even accepted, by the powers that be.”

    The powers that be, you think after having this power since the breakaway from malaysia, we are giving it to inexperience nincompoops. We have every law in place. We have tuned you to making money. We have the money in our hands. YOU asking us, the powers that be, to give all this up? THINK again.

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