My mother, when I told her about MDA's new online licencing scheme: "Gahmen so free ah? Why they don't do something more useful?"
Mom has a way of not mincing her words. But Minister Yaacob "Freak Events" Ibrahim says, to the BBC in this video:
"I think it is important for us to ensure that they [ordinary Singaporeans] read the RIGHT thing…"
Siew Kum Hong says on Facebook about this quote from Yaacoob, "There will of course be claims that those who quote this sentence, are taking it out of context — because he goes on to say that "the right things" really means accurate reporting. To which I say — this quote probably betrays what the gahmen is truly seeking to achieve. And if the goal is to ensure that falsehoods and inaccuracies are not reported, then why not limit the power to order content removal to only the content that is false or inaccurate?"
To which I say, yup, what he said.
I told AP, in this piece entitled, Singapore to require news websites to be licensed:
'"This is censorship, plain and simple," said Lee Kin Mun, a Singaporean social and political blogger who is more popularly known by his Internet persona, "Mr. Brown."
"Trying to regulate the Internet is like trying to grab jelly; the tighter your grip on it, the faster it leaks out of your hand," he said.'
Which then reminded me of a scene from Star Wars, when Princess Leia said something similar to Darth Vader. Except the jelly part.
Here is a round-up of other news coverage on MDA's licencing regime:
1. ZDnet, Eileen Yu: Singapore's online licensing rule a sign of more to come:
"…in 2011, during his opening address at the 7th Ministerial Forum on ICT, Yaacob said governments worldwide were starting to recognize the online community as an important group which they need to reach out to. He said this was changing the way governments interacted with their citizens.
I'm guessing the new licensing regime is how the Singapore ruling party has chosen to interact."
2. mUmBRELLA, Siew Kum Hong: Why Singapore’s crackdown on online news reporting is a mistake:
"While the Media Development Authority has sought to frame it as establishing regulatory parity between online and offline news outlets, the details available to date show otherwise.
Most notably, the MDA now has the power to order online news sites to remove purportedly illegal content within 24 hours, failing which the site stands to lose its $50,000 bond.
But there is no equivalent to this for newspapers, for example; if the Straits Times publishes an article that is prohibited under MDA guidelines, the Straits Times is not obligated to recall all unsold copies within 24 hours.
More fundamentally, the power to compel content removal is simply the power to censor outright. If the intent was to ensure responsible or accurate reporting, then surely the MDA should have chosen to include the power to order the publication of an update or correction as well. But this does not seem to be the case, at least based on the MDA’s own announcement."
3. xinmsn: Singapore defends Internet licencing rules:
"Should any licensee experience difficulties in meeting their licensing requirements, we welcome them to discuss their concerns with us," the MDA said.
"It's hard not to see how this is another attempt to control media—local and international—by the Singapore government," said Bob Dietz, Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, a U.S.-based journalism watchdog. "Its justification used in the past that strict media controls are necessary to squelch violent political dissent is simply no longer valid," he said. "It's hard to argue with Singapore's economic success. But the disconnect between its economic freedom and media freedom seems to be growing too large."
5. Yahoo! (soon to be renamed Yaacob!): Activists, bloggers call on MDA to withdraw licensing scheme