The first online protest organised by Singaporeans to blackout their blogs and websites ended today at midnight. The one-day blackout, organised as part of the “Free My Internet” movement against a new Internet regulation, surprised even the organisers when it drew over 160 local bloggers and websites from diverse backgrounds within 24 hours of being launched on June 6. This was no mean feat given that there was hardly any publicity on the blackout given by our local mainstream media.
But who needs MSM when we have the Internet. Well-known participants in the historical blackout included The Online Citizen, Public House, TR Emeritus, the Substation, Pinkdot.com and respected bloggers like Alex Au, Andrew Loh and Kirsten Han. The organisers were delighted to see a diverse list of netizens taking part in the blackout (click to view full list) . There were many surprises including media commentator Cherian George who posted a sign with the cheeky words “Free My Internet (and our other media, while we are at it)” on his website journalism.sg.
Indeed, our government needs to free up its overly controlling grip on all our media and not tighten it. As it is, we have already reached a new low of 149 in the latest world press freedom ranking. How much lower does our government want us to sink?
Personally, I think FMI is a good way for everyone and anyone who has a voice and who wants to use it to bring about positive changes in the way Singapore is being governed. Through movements like FMI, we can show the government just how much we object to their attempts to muzzle us by using regressive laws and regulations like the Media Development Authority’s new Internet licensing regime.
Change however, will take time and a great deal of unity and effort. Patience and perseverance is key.
Meantime, the world is watching how we Singaporeans react to this unprecedented Internet regulation (first in the world again for the wrong things). I am glad many Singaporeans have and are speaking up against it. We can also hold our heads up high for taking action through the FMI movement. Many of us are also not fooled by the empty assurances made by ministers Yaacob Ibrahim and Tan Chuan-Jin that the government will rule with a “light touch” when the reality is that it wields a hefty stick through draconian laws and regulations.
It is also heartening to see that various international media have reported on the FMI movement including AFP news agency, the Jakarta Globe, CNET.com, gobalvoicesonline, BBC and South China Morning Post to name a few. The world media will continue to monitor how Singaporeans will respond.
Today’s blackout may have ended but our quest to protect our right to freedom of speech has only just begun. An online petition has been launched by FMI (click here to sign it), and there is a protest event this Saturday 8 June from 4-7pm at Hong Lim Park. Several of Singapore’s leading activists and bloggers including Leong Sze Hian, Andrew Loh and Visakan and Heart Truth blogger Roy will be at the event.
So, do give it some thought and support this worthwhile cause if you value your freedom to speak up on and offline.