theonlinecitizen

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Demonising the Internet – and bloggers

Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 28, 2008

Andrew Loh

With so many shenanigans and so much bad press, is it any wonder that bloggers here are gaining a reputation as irresponsible netizens?

The above quote is from Clarence Chang of The New Paper in an article titled, “Why are S’pore bloggers clueless and careless?” (2005).

Also in that article, Chang says:

They slime, ‘flame’ and take potshots at others. The more outrageous the comments, it seems, the better. In Singapore, bloggers appear to think that anything goes.

Three years on, it seems that the attacks by the mainstream media (MSM) on the Internet, and bloggers in particular, haven’t let up.

In the past month or so, these have taken the form of outright disparagement of bloggers – most of them at how bloggers have reacted to Mas Selamat Kastari’s escape from the Whitley Road Detention Center and the aftermath.

In a Straits Times article titled, “Mas Selamat wins in blame game”, on March 15 2008, Paul Jacob described blog postings as being full of “sarcastic comments”, “speculation, innuendo and finger-pointing”, and bloggers as “detractors” who are “baying for blood”, and engaging in a “blame game”.

Jacob goes on further:

The rants in cyberspace take pleasure in knocking Singapore‘s firm and nononsense (sic) reputation.

And, oblivious to his own complicity in doing exactly the same, Jacob ends his piece with:

This is not a time when others should be given room to take potshots and sow seeds that, in some cases, appear designed to cause discord and to cast doubt on and undermine the work and reputation of individuals and institutions.

Phew! That’s a lot of accusations to hurl, eh?

Jacob is the Deputy Political Editor of the ST, mind you.

And he talks about ranting. Rather funny, isn’t it? Ironic, for sure.

I guess “the more outrageous the comments, it seems, the better”, as Chang said.

In that same spirit of trying to better one another in demonizing bloggers, in steps the Chuas – Chua Mui Hoong and Chua Lee Hoong.

Chua MH subtly lumps “anonymous bloggers” together with “grandstanding kopitiam rabble rousers” in a piece titled “Beyond witch-hunts to sanctions for lapses” (ST, April 23 2008). In dissing some bloggers’ calls for Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng to resign, Chua MH says:

There is a difference between comments made to ventilate emotions and hard-headed comments meant to be acted upon. The ‘heads should roll’ and ‘minister must go’ comments belonged more to the former than to the latter category.

Bloggers are “emotional”, and “emotional” equals “irrational”. That’s what she’s saying.

The next day, April 24, the Straits Times Forum Page published a letter by a certain Colin Ong Tau Shien. Referring to what is being posted on the Internet about the escape, he said:

There are many unfounded snide comments and even YouTube videos about government inadequacy. Many of these biased views are left unanswered.

Unfounded. Snide. Biased. Did you catch that?

But of course, that is nothing compared to what came next – Political Editor of the ST, Chua Lee Hoong’s piece of emotional ranting directed at those whom she says “seem to feed on one another’s vitriol, and try to outdo themselves”. (“That escape: Crucial issues aplenty, so let’s move on”, ST April 26 2008.)

I am sure Chua LH has Jacob in mind when she was writing that piece – “the more outrageous the comments, it seems, the better”.

She begins:

Reading Internet postings often makes my blood boil.

Uh oh.

Then she goes on:

[Too many netizens] Have no sense of perspective, seeming to think the escape of one detainee is sufficient cause for an entire government to be thrown into flux by sacking a minister.

Netizens have no sense of perspective. I recall MM Lee using those very same words not too long ago about Singaporeans in general, did he not?

[Too many netizens] Obviously have not read the full account of what Mr Wong said, yet think they are in a position to pass judgment.

Netizens are lazy or ill-informed and are not qualified enough to pass judgment.

[Too many netizens] Seem to feed on one another’s vitriol, and try to outdo themselves in calling for punishment.

Feed on one another’s vitriol. Wow. I really don’t know what to say to that, honestly.

(Empty Vessels has a rather good rebuttal, word for word, to Chua LH’s rants. I highly recommend reading it for therapy.)

What actually made me wonder if Chua LH knew what she was writing even as she typed on her keyboard was this paragraph – about the “commando death”:

Not only was there a death, but the ministry initially did not state exactly how he died. It was only two months later – after newspaper reports and Internet postings by friends of the commando – that the minister appeared before Parliament to answer questions on the death.

The crucial part is this:

… after newspaper reports and Internet postings by friends of the commando…

Ahh… it was only after some “Internet postings” that the minister appeared before Parliament to answer questions about his death.

No wonder reading Internet postings makes Chua LH’s blood boil. They make ministers appear before Parliament!

And as if to convince everyone that the escape is not such a big issue, Chua LH says:

I concur fully with unionist G. Muthu Kumar, who said there are far more important concerns for workers, like rising food costs. ‘People don’t bother about this Mas Selamat… they’ve got no time to think about this.’

Yet her ST colleague Chua MH had said just the day before, in the article, “Ministerial responsibility: The UK example”:

SINGAPOREANS this week are seized over the issue of ministerial responsibility when things go wrong on their watch.

Hmm… either one of the Chuas must be out of touch. You cannot say Singaporeans “got no time to think about this” while being “seized over the issue” at the same time, right?

Anyway, back to discrediting bloggers and netizens. What has the man at the top got to say about new media? TODAY reported Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as saying:

Mr Lee expressed concern on how Singaporeans are using the new media to disseminate news and information without sufficient understanding of the political motivation of the sources.

“PM Lee on Internet lessons”, TODAY, April 14 2008.

‘Political motivation of the sources’? Hmm. One wonders if that includes George Yeo and the P65 gang.

What should one make of all these unkind words about bloggers, blogs, netizens and the new media? Are the accusations true? Or is the MSM on a mission to disembowel those of us who inhabit cyberspace?

One aspect of all the reports, articles and write-ups in the local press may give us a clue. In all those publications, virtually none mentioned any particular blog or blogger whom the reporters seem to find distasteful.

I think that says something. Perhaps the strategy is to paint – or taint – everyone with the same soiled brush.

I cannot speak for all or even most bloggers but I will say this about theonlinecitizen. Most of us here, in fact, the majority of us here on TOC, use our real names and are ready to defend what we say in our articles.

There are also other socio-political bloggers who do the same – Siew Kum Hong, Catherine Lim, Goh Meng Seng, Alex Au, Chia Ti Lik, Ng E-Jay, Melvin Tan, Yaw Shin Leong, Perry Tong, Chee Soon Juan, Chee Siok Chin, Gandhi Ambalam, Tan Kin Lian, the folks over at Singapore Angle, etc.

We all know the real name of Mr Brown too – Lee Kin Mun.

Many have and are using their real names to blog, and are not anonymous “rabble-rousers” with no credibility.

Funny thing is, when you paint all with the same brush, does that not also include those like Minister George Yeo, PAP MPs like Baey Yam Keng, Lam Pin Min and their P65 colleagues?

That the mainstream media has a vendetta against the Internet, and bloggers in particular, is regrettable. How does this help the Government’s oft-repeated claims of wanting to engage younger Singaporeans, who increasingly surf the Net and use it for self-expression?

Isn’t the mainstream media suppose to be “nation-building”? Why be tearing down instead?

But I guess if you’re going on a crusade to disembowel and discredit netizens, the more outrageous the comments, it seems, the better.

Read also: “Of angry journalists, anger and the evil Internet again” by Xeno Boy Sg.

——————-

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36 Responses to “Demonising the Internet – and bloggers”

  1. Fever Guy said

    Andrew,

    A solid piece of article and too intelligent for the Chua sisters to ever write it. They are not even near your level of understanding. I hope more sinkies can read TOC more often and less on ST. Spread the word !

    FG

  2. no news is good news said

    Theres a major disconnect between the govt related papers and the people on the ground, and I thought the Stale times was suppose to bridge this gap, by putting views that they gather from the web and putting them forward to our Elites.

    with this small step, I would then think people will start reading the papers. if not its best that they go online and save the trees 🙂

    No point writing something that people cannot relate to.Its just like kampong gossip.

    What will they think of next ?

  3. Lola said

    “No point writing something that people cannot relate to.Its just like kampong gossip.”

    I just arrived in the office, someone posted me this;

    http://intelligentsingaporean.wordpress.com/2006/09/21/why-i-would-like-to-leave/#comment-33828

    The Empire Strikes Back! Hehehehe. One things is for sure. You will never get this from the shit times!

  4. nuts & bolts said

    I lost my bearing of meaning
    The reality sets in
    Distortion of proportion,
    is what I read
    Hard copies wasted,Time spent
    disconnecting reality,you are far behind.
    open your mind and you will see
    deny not and you will understand

  5. Andrew Loh said

    If you watch how the local press – and media – behaves, it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that they dance to the tune of the PAP govt.

    On Saturday, Chua Lee Hoong had a piece urging everyone to move on.

    On Sunday, Goh Chok Tong came out and said exactly the same thing.

    This is the cue for the local press.

    Stop all reports and write ups about the accountability issue.

    And as if like magic, the local papers are suddenly absent of such articles. Quite an amazing thing to observe, really.

    One other interesting thing:

    It was SM Goh who came out to urge everyone to “move on”. No other minister said anything at all.

    It was also MM Lee who first spoke about the Mas Selamat escape.

    What does that tell you?

    That PM Lee has lost the plot.

    He spoke 11 days after MM Lee.

    He needed SM Goh to gently tell everyone to “move on”.

    I seriously think PM Lee has a leadership problem.

  6. inspir3d said

    why bother with what the ST journalists write any more?

    the more the internet grows, the more the journalists become irrelevant to Singaporean society.

    They had their chance to use their monopoly over the Singaporean press responsibly. But they abused their privilege; and now it is the netizens’ opportunity to lead the discourse.

    “Lee Hoong’s anger is ultimately an incommensurate anger. The Net moves on. The world moves on. The people whom Lee Hoong is trying desperately to connect with have moved on. Perhaps, this is the reason for her anger. No one cares what she writes anymore. No one bothers. It is incommensurate anger because the thinking Singaporean now has choice, has the ability to choose, to respond, to voice.” – XenoBoy

  7. Forget me not said

    Stand up for Singapore, do the best you can
    Reach out for your fellow man,
    You’ve got to make a stand
    Recognise you can play your part
    Let it come right from your heart
    Be prepared to give a little more
    Stand up, stand up for Singapore

    We have a vision for tomorrow, just believe, just believe
    We have a goal for Singapore, we can achieve, we can achieve
    You and me, we’ll do our part, stand together, heart to heart
    We’re going to show the world what Singapore can be
    We can achieve, we can achieve

    We’ve built a nation with our hands
    the toil of people from a dozen lands
    Strangers when we first began, now we’re Singaporean
    Let’s reach out for Singapore, join our hands forevermore

  8. VM said

    I did notice more and more articles devoted to badmouthing alternative media like the Internet and blogs. And I wondered, why are they spending so much time badmouthing, when simple ignorance will do?
    They’re threatened, and they should be.
    Any publicity is good publicity. If their rants get more people online (and away from the propaganda) to see what the fuss is about, all the better.

  9. Jack said

    Why do people still read the ST when we all know these so called “journalists” are actually more of sycophants who don’t understand the ground but only seek to bootlick their masters because they know where their bread are buttered

  10. ireadpapers said

    funny… the TNP taking a political side? isn’t it mainly a football newspaper? if the ST chooses to demonise bloggers for being political, well that’s pure and simple hypocrisy; the TNP doing that, however, is a farce.

  11. my80ctsworth said

    Good article, TOC, these so called “journalists” should get a taste of their own medicine..SPH not getting my 80cts everyday from today onwards…
    then if SPH readership drops, editors like the Chua sisters get the flak lah..
    then we all say ,”what to do?it happened.”..lol

  12. Andrew Loh said

    My80centsworth,

    That would be my response to ST Journalists who decry the postings of bloggers: “What to do, it’s happened. Lets move on.” 🙂

    Inspir3d,

    The socio-political blogosphere is, to be honest, a small place. It will be a long time before the MSM becomes irrelevant. They are ok when it comes to non-political stuff. But when it involves politics, they abandon their conscience and sense of fairness.

    Having political editors and writers from their Political Desk write disparaging articles about bloggers is telling. Obviously, their articles have a political agenda.

    That’s my reading anyway.

    Regards,
    Andrew Loh

  13. Dr Syed Alwi said

    The only time when the ST and the Govt is satisfied – is when you unabashedly praise them for a job well done. Never mind whether they actually deserve any praise to begin with !

  14. Panties in a bunch said

    Hi all,

    Please dont get your panties in a bunch, I am sure Mr Chua knows what he is talking about and his intention is very clear from his manly views.

    We got other issues to focus on so lets move on ok ? oh sorry I mean move Blame to where it cannot be appointed

    FYI, heard the magician David Blame is coming to town. I think his gonna try and make MSK appear, as WKS could not make him appear.

    I think humpty dumpty had a great fall and he landed on a rose thorn

  15. Logicalman said

    Andrew,
    I stopped subscribing to ST years ago, and I am no less well-informed. As for the free Sunday Times, well, that’s laughable. They might as well start giving out Straits Times free on certain days.

    The fact is, ST’s content on home issues is suspicious at best, and biased at worst. Whilst I have seen more objective and critical pieces in the past, especially in the 80s, these days, editorials, viewpoints, & even forum letters seem orchestrated for the menu of that day. Perhaps one day, even ads will spout public-education messages.

    ST will do well to reflect honestly on what journalism is all about, go back and set their home in order, before attempting once again to inform.

  16. Internet is good said

    In the internet, everyone has a chance to be heard – other users get to decide on the credibility of the content. Qualification, status and identity are not important. It is the content that matters. No one needs any permission to pen down anything unless the site is controlled and moderated.

    In the mainstream media and in our context, only the privileged and lucky lot will decide what gets heard.

    This privileged status is now becoming a common commodity in the internet domain and that is why blood of privileged few starts to boil. As internet is here to stay for ages to come, it would be best that they control their own temperature so that their blood will not over-boil.

  17. i like straits times said

    Straits times is useful , you all don’t always condemn it !!! at least my dog at home read & pee at it. and when frustrated with the propaganda, i can draw and add black eye / moustache / hair etc to the person in picture. not happy, somemore can throw darts at it. i waiting for some prominent personnel in full page so that i my darts would not miss it….. obituaries column !!! ha ha ha

  18. Darkness said

    Why was Harphoons post censored?

  19. Darkness,

    Is this the comment you are referring to? It’s in another post:

    Comment no. 42.

    Regards,
    Andrew Loh

  20. Darkness said

    huh… ok, bye bye


  21. Let barking dogs lie (both definitions of the word apply).

    Seriously, if these ‘political correspondents’ choose to destroy their reputations by resorting to such a mockery of journalism, then so be it.

    Let them carry on in this vein and one day, we can look forward to reputable press services rejecting such ‘journalists’ who seek greener pastures by the virtue of their former employment with the ST. If that day were to come, I dare say the very ‘despicable bloggers’ would be the ones sought after for their impartiality and courage instead.

    As was mentioned in another comment, for less than a dollar a day, we get X cubic centimetres of reasonable quality paper for various uses such as wiping mirrors, wrapping glass items, collecting dog poo – with standard information on movie show times, comic strips, lifestyle news, and oh, insanely comical perspectives on Mas Selamat et al that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Err, you mean there are still people who are subscribing to READ ST? Wow, guess pre-65ers are still alive and kicking. Not for long though…

  22. Tang Li said

    People who are losing their power will always make it a point of slagging of those who are their biggest threat. It’s like when MM Lee sues a foreign publication and suddenly that publication becomes even more credible. Look at who he’s sued – Asian Wall Street Journal, Far Eastern Economic Review, Asia Week, Bloomberg and The Economist. Not all of these publications have survived intact but very little of it has to do with making MM upset. Most of them became even more credible – particularly the Economist and Bloomberg. So, my fellow bloggers, we are on the way to becoming more credible when ST starts slagging us off. Blessed by the CHuas.

  23. …………..I do not know if I “feed on other netizen’s vitriol” as stated by Chua Lee Hoong of ST (which I found out to mean feed on sulphuric acid or bitterly abusive feeling or expression) but I do know that Xenoboy is right. This angry woman cannot defend her ex-boss and she is bitterly scathing and caustic (vitriolic?) to bloggers because exasperation and hopelessness has set in and blind faith and balls carrying is losing out to the light of truth!

    Satisfaction lies with the fact that an ‘O’ level Kopitiam Ah Pek like me (who needs to look up dictionary so often) can make the ST’s political editor’s blood boil! I feel my “outrageous, snide, rabble-rousers” rants finally pay off! I feel validated. I feel good!………………………..

    feedmetothefish

  24. family man said

    for the hell of it, shall we start a ‘stop buying ST’ campaign, maybe for a day? and ask all bloggers to post it and remind everyone?? I know sometimes we buy it for our parents / kids etc, but we can try right, to send a message to ST. Or get households to terminate the subscription for a month. TOC, would you like to lead this.

  25. Logicalman said

    As the Govt becomes more disconnected from the ground, so has ST. If ST were an independent press, if she reports & analyzes objectively, I think the reverse would be true; unfortunately this is what happens when you choose to sing to the Govt’s tune, and when one goes out of tune, so does the other.

    Actually, I don’t blame ST. Foreign publications have frequently found themselves on the receiving end of costly legal action by some of our leaders. How much more threatening it is, for a paper that’s based on home soil? If the journalist reports objectively and gets onto the nerves of certain leaders, will ST risk life and limb to defend them unswervingly as in the case of Ching Cheong, or will the offending journalist simply be asked to go? Even if ST were to make an exception once or twice, she cannot afford to do this all the time when her journalists don’t toe the line of the Govt. It just doesn’t work in the long run. That’s why ST is what she is. Either that, or she’s steers away from politics, as far as home issues are concerned, or she cease to exist altogether.

    Coming back to internet bloggers. While there are credible views and opinions, there’s room for improvement.

    For starters, if we can express our views without uttering vulgarities, that will go a long way towards establishing and maintaining the credibility of web journalism. Let’s not demean ourselves by speaking like hooligans, even though the object of our discussion attracts wrath, or to quote ST “makes our blood boil”.

    Secondly, even if we do not agree with a certain viewpoint or policy, let’s state our views objectively and disagree amicably, instead of having the equivalent of trading punches, as what happens in parliamentary sessions elsewhere. Let’s not be biased, though that’s an easy route, and give credit when due, even if it’s to the Govt or ST.

    In all fairness, the Govt has done a good job in many areas, particularly in raising the standards of living over the decades from the 70s, but in the most intimate aspect, that is, the heart of the people she leads and represents, she has fallen short as she listens more to what her head tells her than what her citizens are saying. The Govt will do well to take heed and do what is right for the citizens, who have an equal if not greater stake in the future of Singapore and her future generations.

    Many families break down not because the head of the household is not bringing in enough, but because of the lack of communication and understanding amongst family members, and the gradual drifting apart over the years, as each gets intoxicated on his or her own pursuits. Move on? Sure, we must, but do the right thing before it’s too late.

  26. Gary Teoh said

    I am very worry abt the election dept under PM office.What happens in Zimbabwe can happen here, because election dept is not independent.

  27. […] – A Xeno Boy in Sg: Of Angry Journalists, Anger & the Evil Internet Again – The Online Citizen: Demonising the Internet – and bloggers – The Daily Backtrack: Nyeh – Sheep City: We love you Chua Lee Hong – A L V I N O L O G Y: Mas […]

  28. otterman said

    I guess they want to sell papers, so talking about an anarchic rabble out there makes more sense than pointing to the existence of well reasoned articles and sites.

  29. KT said

    Lee Hoong’s blood wasn’t boiling – she was attempting to incite mainstream readers’ blood to. Why did we fall into her gambit?

    Bloggers should respond to these pathetic diatribes with dignity and an even tone – that’d quite show them.

    Re bloggers with revealed names, it’s fine if they do but not a must – see Molly Meek, Xeno Boy – a voice without a name is still a voice. We may choose to remain anonymous, the laws can still catch us as they can.

  30. JDread said

    Haha good one. George Yeo must be an “irresponsible citizen” too. LOL

  31. my80ctsworth said

    well, let Lee & Co. continue suing every paper writing against him…one day he might end up suing Rupert Murdoch of News Corp(media tycoon..i checked, he owns FEER & WSJ amongst many other papers & TV networks)..then we see who sues who…haha

  32. Jacob said

    I’ve been out of blogging for about 3yrs and i must say its come a long way and become a positive force with blogs like TOC’s and metablogs like Singapore Daily.

    Wait a sec…before somebody thinks it, i’ll just say i’m not paul jacob from ST. 🙂

    As for the mainstream media, the blogging community’s giving them a run for their money and making them sweat so much that they’re prone to write such negative things to try and portray us as if we were the media arm of al-qaeda or something…hahaha!

  33. […] one of our most famous local writers, Catherine Lim. I really do especially recommend this and this as must-reads on the case by theonlinecitizen, which is fast becoming one of Singapore’s […]

  34. laicf said

    I am curious as to why PAP wnet into damage control immediately over a dinosaur of an Old Gaurds in conjunciton with its pro-MSM; and did not take it on the chin like a man over MSK.

    I clearly remembered MSM went righteous over a condominium MC for alleging “not employing Indian security guard.” And the Chairman was more or less so demoralised that he had no desire at all to continue for another term.

    In contrast, MSK Escape made SIngapore a laughing stock in global world; and yet there was no rihteous condnemnation bY MSM for “heads must rolled and someone must be accountible”.

    The keyword is “accountibility” or as Truman said: “The buck stopped here!”.

    Again Andrew Kuan Saga……and there was no forgiveness.

    Again Gomezgate at Election Dept Counter (I would say it is dumb and stupid of Gomez to behave such)…there was no “forgiveness” and Low Thai Khiang was taken to task.

    Again that ill-advised Micropolis S$750-million loss….no “The buck stopped here!”…lesson learnt…all forgiveness.

    Again that S$380-million tax loss to Singtel….”an honest mistake. No the buck stopped here”…all forgiveness.

    Going to that poor sap of a MC Chairman, he made an honest mistake in the best interest of the Condo resident, and yet there was no “forgiveness, only righteousness” from MSM..and I would suggest that he was literally houndned from the “offcie”. He is a retired civil servant, all sincere, a religious man, deligent in discharging his thankless task (unpaid too) as MC Chairman….and all he got was ridcules and righteous condemnations from MSM.

    I stayed at that condo.

    Who committed the bigger mistake?

    A MC Chairman who was alleged to inform managing agent not to consider Indian security guard (and mind in, that condnominium manager “resigned” as well)…and his case was reported in all MSM for a few days.

    And DPM Wong Kan Seng?
    With all MSM clamoring for “forgiveness” and Bloggers got scorns poured onto them for daring to comment: “hey, the Emperor is butt-naked! Why the f**k are you all praising him for the fineries he is NOT wearing?”

    Where is Social Justice in Singapore?
    She is a Whore at Geylang?

    I see Internet as a sweet young thing, fun to be with, an exhilirating experience with all its risks…fickle, whole range of emotions, lies, half-truths, facts, and you can’t live without her, and you can’t live with her…

    MSM?
    A frigging whore, with a Sugar Daddy…pray it is not sufferring a fate akin to that prisoner of that incestuous Austrian monster locked away for 24 years in a cramped and sunless basement..with her three “off-springs never see the sun before”.

  35. […] Sg: Of Angry Journalists, Anger & the Evil Internet Again [Recommended] – The Online Citizen: Demonising the Internet – and bloggers – The Daily Backtrack: Nyeh – Sheep City: We love you Chua Lee Hong – A L V I N O L O G Y: Mas […]

  36. kevin said

    Was this article ever emailed to CASE?
    Frankly speaking,a lot of people have been feeling weird that companies like Shop & Save,and Sheng Shiong,can actually sell some items cheaper than NTUC.
    Baffling.

    As for Case,i think 80% of the population here believe that its a gone case.

    Kevin

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