By now, some of you would have heard or read that a group of leading Singapore bloggers and activists have banded together to organise the Free My Internet movement which will kick off with a protest this Saturday 8 June 4-pm at Hong Lim Park. There is also a petition (click here) calling on MDA to withdraw the licensing regulations for online “news” sites. You can find all the details at the official event page set up on Facebook (click here). You can also follow and comment on Twitter at #FreeMyInternet.
This movement was set up as a coordinated response to the shocking new ruling announced by the government recently that effectively gives it sweeping controls over who and what it wants to go after online if they perceive that “prohibited” news or comments have been made. Read my previous blog “Why is the government treating us like the enemy” for background on the ruling and why netizens are enraged enough to do something about it.
Why Join the Movement?
Why should Singaporeans consider joining and supporting this movement? I know there are some people who think it is a waste of time to protest as they say we can’t change anything because the government holds all the power and makes all the laws. I disagree strongly with such a negative and defeatist view.
If you think we can’t change anything by holding and attending peaceful protests, signing a petition, writing about the government, etc., then let me ask you two questions:
1. Do you think anything will change by doing absolutely nothing?
2. Do you think our government can and will become even more tyrannical if it sees no objections being voiced by the people to its oppressive actions?”
Think about it. Change takes time. Change takes a great deal of effort. And Change needs support from as many people as possible. Even if we are not be able to convince the government to rescind the new licensing regime, at the very least we have to show them that the people care enough to do something about it and that we will not tolerate the government making and changing regulations and oppressive laws as it likes without getting any reactions from us when it violates our civil rights.
Speaking of civil rights, many people are very surprised when they hear that we actually have the right to freedom of speech which is enshrined in our country’s Constitution:
- (a) every citizen of Singapore has the right to freedom of speech and expression;
- (b) all citizens of Singapore have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms; and
- (c) all citizens of Singapore have the right to form associations.
BUT because the PAP-government has almost unfettered powers, our rights have been increasingly stomped on by a variety of oppressive laws that they created over time. For example, the right to free speech is limited on the ground of the security of Singapore by the Official Secrets Act (Cap. 213, 1985 Rev. Ed.), and on the ground of public order by the Broadcasting Act (Cap. 28, 2003 Rev. Ed.) and Newspaper and Printing Presses Act (Cap. 206, 2002 Rev. Ed.). There is also the Sedition Act (Cap. 290, 1985 Rev. Ed.), and restrictions on the right to freedom of association imposed by the Societies Act (Cap. 311, 1985 Rev. Ed.). And of course the latest is the licensing regime introduced by the MDA to control the Internet. You get the picture.
If you value your right to speak up and to have a say in the way our country is being shaped, do think about why your active support for movements like Free My Internet can have a cumulative effect to achieve our goal of having a democratic society. Such support can also have a ‘cooling’ effect on an overly-controlling government as it will have to eventually realise that the law of the universe holds true – “Every Action has a Reaction”. Piss off one Singaporean, they couldn’t care less, piss off 100, it’s a non-issue to them. But piss off many, many more Singaporeans, they know it will cost them votes.
So, my fellow Singaporeans, I urge you to set aside your doubts and consider whether it is action or apathy that will achieve what you want for yourself, your family and your country.
Remember, when a bully kicks you, you have the choice to be kicked some more or to stand up for yourself.
MEDIA STATEMENT on Free My Internet Movement – 1 JUNE 2013
The blogging community — collectively called Free My Internet, will be organising a protest and online blackout next week against the new licensing requirements imposed by the Media Development Authority, which requires “online news sites” to put up a “performance bond” of $50,000 and “comply within 24 hours to MDA’s directions to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards”.
We encourage all Singaporeans who are concerned about our future and our ability to participate in everyday online activities and discussions, and to seek out alternative news and analysis, to take a strong stand against the licensing regime which can impede on your independence.
We urge Singaporeans to turn up to send a clear message to our elected representatives to trust the Singaporeans who elected them.
Singaporeans can support us in three ways:
1) Join us at the protest.
Date: 8 June 2013
Time: 4.00pm – 7.00pm
Venue: Speakers Corner, Hong Lim Park
2) If you are a blogger, join us in an online blackout by closing your blog for 24 hours, from Thursday 6 June, 0001 hrs to 6 June, 2359 hrs. You can choose to create your own blackout notice, or use http://www.freemyinternet.com we have created for your convenience. When you reopen your blog, write your account of the protest, about the new regulations and censorship, or anything related to media freedom in Singapore. Share your thoughts. Share your hope that the light that free speech provides will not go out on us.
3) Sign our petition and read our FAQ at this link to call for the Ministry of Communications and Information to completely withdraw the licensing regime.
We invite media to cover the protest at Hong Lim Park. To indicate media attendance and other media queries, please contact Howard Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Signed off as: Free My Internet