[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

[Of blogging and censorship views]
1. Words matter. Words said to your face matter. Words overheard also matter. Kind words can lift our spirits. Cutting words can be demoralizing. For this reason, all communication in human society is regulated to a great or lesser degree.

2. I showed the ST article on Wee Shu Min to my daughter this morning. She assured me with a smile that she did not blog. I was taken aback by her reply because it was certainly not my intention to stop her from blogging. Sooner or later, what Ephraim wrote about in his last blog must be confronted. I never believed that the Internet or the blogosphere represented communication without frontiers. In a sound-proof bathroom maybe. But then it's not communication when no one can hear you.

3. Let's go back to common sense. Since words matter, the utterer has responsibility. If you defame someone, he can sue you. If you cause a riot, you may be arrested. If you shout 'fire' in a cinema when there's none, you can be thrown into jail. If your father or your principal takes offense, well, you're going to hear from him. If you are anonymous, you will not be credible, and the Police may still be able to find out who you are. The issue is therefore not whether there should be regulation, but what kind of regulation is sensible. Good regulations facilitate communication making civilized society possible. What we need in Singapore is a good balance between freedom and responsibility in this new age of globalisation and narrowcasting.


Blogger sei-ji rakugaki said...

I believe in this case, it was not just words,but the fact that she is an MP's daughter as well, and obviously, the public is going to wonder where she gets her ideas and influences from...like it or not. there is a chinese saying that says "shang liang bu zhen, xia liang wai"...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 6:06:00 pm

Blogger black feline said...

well said sei-ji...it will be interesting to know what a veteran MP here can impart precious advice to our newbie MP from the AMK GRC...hopefully it's not another "let's move on" ending.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 7:48:00 pm

Anonymous PJL001 said...

I am most flabbergasted by the nonchalant way her father responded. What violation of privacy when she knew fully well the consequences from blogging in the internet. And the attitude, I quote, "Some people cannot take the brutal truth and that sort of language", is exactly the same attitude the daughter has towards her society.
And I think it is rather unfair that just because she is somebody's daughter, she is let off with just counselling. Other bloggers found themselves charged in the courts, or worse, even jailed because of their insensitive comments on their blogs. Does it mean to say that Singapore does practise double standards?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 10:05:00 pm

Anonymous Speranza Nuova said...

There is a very interesting article in the latest journal of Science. It shows that exposure to different theories of underachievement can affect a person's math performance in differing ways.

I was surprised by this -- it is a scientific study with implications for how we use the power of words and speech, both in what we say, and how we frame a discussion.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 11:12:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

George Yeo Sir,if possible, I hope that you can outline how the Government can address the issue of ageist discrimination in the workplace and concrete steps for them to seek reemployment. In my opinion, I feel that Derek Wee's burning issue was lost in the Wee Shu Min saga. I am sure that a good concrete plan of employing retrenched middle-aged workers will appease derek more than a formal apology from MP Wee

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 12:37:00 am

Anonymous Desmond Lim said...

Time and time again the PAP keeps drilling this "fact" into us, "If you are anonymous, you will not be credible". The joke about it is that any name you read, on the newspapers or online are more or less anonymous as we don't know the person personally.

Furthermore, most bloggers or people who participate in online discussions don't deal with hard core news. They usually give their own opinions on things that are happening in the world. Opinions need not be credible as they are opinions. Of course I draw the line at slander and discriminatory blogs/posts. Reading about different opinions to the same situation allows a person to broaden his/her knowledge and opinions. I might read a blog that states that the casinos that are opening are no good for Singapore because for these reasons. I don't necessary have to agree with them but it does allow me to understand why some people agree with this statement.

There are a lot of blogs out there where intelligent people write about things they are interested in. Their opinions are there for the world to see but a lot of them remain anonymous. Does it matter? No, because an opinion is based on a person's thoughts and not on facts and figures. So if a blog/post is constructive does it mean it is not credible just because it is anonymous?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 7:45:00 am

Blogger Whispers from the heart said...

I agree. I am inclined to think that those who equate anonymity with less credibility should not be talking about the power and influence of WORDS.

Exacty, Mr Yeo. George Yeo has no more credibility than any bloke on the street unless he says something sensible, dude.

As for Ms Wee, I am requesting for the Scholarship board to refute her entitlement to the HUMANITIES scholarship.

She is obviously wasting good taxpayers' monies. Such audacity from an 18 year-old! I would suggest to Mr Wee to let her live with the bereaved family of Mr Tan to learn some hard facts of life.

As for brutal truth in life, I think most ministers forgot one important aspect of civilisation - yes, we form villages and groups to help and care for each other so the group can survive. Even animals do so. We also learn to elect leaders to take care of the weaker ones. PAP seems to be forgetting the reason for their existence.

I am utterly flabbergasted by those who think it damn righteous to spew nonsence like "the brutal truth..."

The brutal truth is PAP can be voted out too, if you have more idiots who think like that.

I am a Singapore citizen and yes, I am damn unhappy how Singapore has become.... a dead man's family received more help from fellow singaporeans. Where is the government?

Stop clutching to million dollar salaries and feel, for once.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 8:12:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brutal truth? Let's talk about being competitive.

Our old - send away to jb or batam.
Our poor - more MRT suicides?
Declining population - import FT
lossing votes - redraw electoral boundary
traffic jam - raise ERP
less tourists - build casino

I think I can be a minister too.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 8:44:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, it takes a certain level of insensitivity and possess a certain scumbag mentality to be a minister.

We are just lowly people of a certain economic class who should not be allowed in a casino, remember?

Words have long lasting effects and memory, Mr Yeo.

In case you really are clueless.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 11:21:00 am

Anonymous Liu said...


Although I am just 16, I would like to participate in this unique session like an adult. However, I find some commentators rather distorting the truth and not looking at the long term.

"Our old - send away to jb or batam."

--> When did our elders being send away to other countries?

"Our poor - more MRT suicides?"

--> Not all MRT suicides are related to the poors. Some happened to fall onto the track by accident. Some resorted to suicide due to their personal problems.

"Declining population - import FT"

--> FT were here to increase our KBE. However, importing too much FT might cause unhappiness among many Singaporeans as the FT seems to take away their jobs, which is a brutal fact.

"traffic jam - raise ERP"

--> Please make way for public transport to be efficient. Please let the goods to be transport as fast as possible without stucking in jams.

"less tourists - build casino"

--> Distorted point. Tourist arrivals to Singapore, has been increased over the years. The Casinos are there to ensure our yearly revenue to be doubled and push our economic forward, so as to competiting with other countries in the long run. It also aim at providing jobs for the locals, but FT seems to be seizing those jobs as well.

"I think I can be a minister too."

--> You are not fit, unfortunately.

Wee Shu Min has overshot her boundary, saying harsh things towards a commentator. I expect top notch student from top notch RJC, would show some maturity and discipline in herself. However, I felt that, hiding behind an annoymous nick, using vulgarities and distorted truth, are more "scumbag" than Wee Shu Min.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 12:03:00 pm

Anonymous liu said...

"As for Ms Wee, I am requesting for the Scholarship board to refute her entitlement to the HUMANITIES scholarship."

--> Forgive and forget. Everyone make mistakes before.

"I am utterly flabbergasted by those who think it damn righteous to spew nonsence like "the brutal truth..."

--> Some brutal truth are just brutal truth. Those brutal truth has becoming part of our life and we have to accept it no matter how cruel they can be.

"The brutal truth is PAP can be voted out too, if you have more idiots who think like that."

--> You are being offensive to call others an idiot, just because you dislike their opinions. If you address others as idiots, you are essentially the same as Wee Shu Min or even worst.

"a dead man's family received more help from fellow singaporeans. Where is the government?"

--> How can you said such a biased and wicked opinion?

"Stop clutching to million dollar salaries and feel, for once."

--> To cut down down corruption. To attract more people to take up government jobs. Believe it or not is up to you.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 12:11:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The long term truth is - we are all fucked up.

Also a liu .... why don't we announce IC numbers?! Haha

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 1:01:00 pm

Blogger Azmodeus said...

With all due respects Mr Yeo, I would have to respectfully agree with your statement that indeed, certain regulations would have to exist to ensure that the parameters of civilized discussion or debate would be possible.

Yet, it is of my immediate concern that should that kind of regulations be raised. Whom shall set the regulations, the standards of the regulations, or the kind of discussion or debate which is permissable? There are alot of questions left unanswered with your post. And undoubtedly are the burning questions within our minds.

While you showing your daughter of the ST article on Ms. Wee had been prudent. With her reply to you of her non-participation in the online community to assure you that her views are kept to herself. We would have to look at things from a broader perspective, would that had been a good thing? Had Ms. Wee had not pronounced her views to the world, would she had realised that her opinions are actually insensitive to the average Singaporean? It is the myriad of views which existed within the diversity of the internet community that allows us to explore through discussions upon its forums to precipitate debates, and from there, you'll know if your opinions truly hold water and stand the trial by fire against the torrents of views on the net.

It perhaps isn't a bad thing to blog, yet it is truly an art to commit to entries which are prudent and responsible to yourself, your fellow Singaporeans, and of course the netizens within the internet community.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006 2:29:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To liu:

Another product of the uniquely singapore education system. Not one iota of idea he is brain washed.

Rethink the issues raised from an economic, statistical and profit seeking point of view. Pay attention to PAP ministers testing water before they roll out policy.
These things you cannot get from books and teacher's spoon feeding.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 3:11:00 pm

Blogger Whispers from the heart said...

16 yr old Liu,

I am 40 yr old. Opinions have nothing to do with age, by the way. If you want to act like an adult, stand by your opinions, then.

Yes, I judged all who have this "brutal truth" mentality as idiots, who have yet to go through life's tribulations and cycles to feel real pain and joy. What it feels to be part of the human race that embraces compassion and tolerance.

From their words, they did not show me their capability of being otherwise.

Yes, I question the government's efforts and sincerity. I used to watch those charity galas from Hongkong in the 1980s. Someone from Hongkong told me the sadder truth about such gigs was that, under the British rule then, the Hongkong people knew they had to fend for themselves because government help was scarce. He told me Singaporeans were luckier.

A decade later, we are having endless NKF and Presidents' charity shows. It's a slap on the government's ability when people put in more effort than the leaders.

If I judge wrongly on words, let them prove me wrong by their actions. I don't connect with hip-hop dancers.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 4:34:00 pm

Blogger chrischoo said...

liu: Actually I think critics in the blogosphere are very much aware of the counter-points you have raised. I'm not saying that you're completely wrong, but I'm fairly sure that reality is not quite close to what you make it out to be. There are always counter-arguments for the points you put forward, but you'll soon be able to verify your world view once you step into the working world or have discussions with working adults. Things are not as black and white as they seem to be.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 4:43:00 pm

Anonymous CandyFloss said...

With all due respect to Mr Yeo, I'd like to raise up a few points regarding your post;

1. Words matter. I get your point. However, the use of 'regulation' belies a more sinister agenda behind the government's actions, 'regulate' has been degraded to the more common "moderation of views" that when it clashes with the interests of the government, they are silenced. Do not deny this fact, this is evident in most Singaporean media- SPH, CNAForum and especially so in the case of Mr Derrek Wee. As much as I applaud Singapore for not following China in its authoritarian stand against online anonymity, I still think there is much room for improvement for both Singapore and its Government, so as to achieve a better, more caring state. And the first step to achieveing that is to stop silencing people's views.

2. Regarding the Wee Shu Min incident, many citizens, including myself, took offence at her blatantly arrogant words, as they reflect immaturity and an elitist chauvinism that I am sure is something that wasn't born within her, but cultivated over years from a vile and poisonous source. The points she makes regarding 'life kicking one in the balls' is certainly something that is valid, yet, I believe it is not something that someone of her caliber should carelessly comment publicly on, as YES, what DOES she know? The fact that she's smart and the daughter of an MP appeals more to people of the *quote* "sadder class" cos its nice to slam someone higher than you when they mock your efforts. It doesn’t matter to one person, cos many people are the same as him and therefore are considering themselves to be on the same boat as him.

3) Do you know why, dear sir, people write either anonymously or under a nickname, esp when it comes to matters like these? Its because they are scared of the consequences that will befall them. I'm not talking about people hiding behind the mask of anonymity to write vulgarities about the government, but genuine people who have a problem with the government! Their ricebowls or something else of importance are possibly threatened when they mention things that clash against the government's views or policies. One cannot deny the fact that they are unhappy. Unhappy citizens = less productive country. What the govt is doing is trying to suppress people's views as long as it does not follow the same tune of 'supposed meritocracy and incorruptibility'. This plan to hush things up are not, IMHO, going to work in the long run, and may lead to more problems in the future, not to mention backfire like hell. What the government needs to do is to be honest with the people- and let people at least be allowed to LIVE. Singapore is a country of people. From the way things are going, it looks set to be a place where people work, not live, for everyone who comes here is out to gain some profit for themselves, government or not govt.

And lastly… countries should be ruled by fair people. Not dictators. If we wanted dictators, we would have gladly invited Saddam to take part in the elections.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 5:22:00 pm

Anonymous CandyFloss said...

And the point that Mr Derrek Wee brought up, i.e ageism that is taking place under the very noses of Singaporeans- that is something that should be addressed as well.

We can't keep making out plans for Singapore to prosper at the expense of our people can we? Singapore wants to be the best in everything- WHY?

Whatever for?

Why be so greedy? Mr Yeo, you speak of balance and regulation; I think before views of the people are regulated, the govt should regulate some of its policies to balance out the lives of Singaporeans. We trust you to take care of our future, together we will work to success. Why forsake the needs of the people to gain a higher status?

It won't work that way. Stop trying to aim for higher ground, instead, lower thy gaze to the citizens who are struggling trying to keep up, and help them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 5:29:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymousity = incredibility?

let's see, during the jap occupation, many important people remained anonymous in their actions.

are they less credible people?

the logic is obviously flaw.

mr yeo, where did you get the logic?

Thursday, October 26, 2006 4:06:00 pm

Blogger kelvin said...

The last non-anonymous writer who published a critical article in a nation wide daily lost role as a columnist in that publication.

Perhaps it is time to review the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act to allow greater press freedom seeing how we are 147th on the list.

still above N. Korea though! Optimism!

Thursday, October 26, 2006 5:59:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

talking about mr brown being stopped from writing in Today.... the reason being a national newspaper shld not engage in reporting rumours to confuse the public......

was appalled by a report in the nst recently on the relationship between susilo and jiawei.... somemore with big title on the first page, and then the whole of 2nd page....... does this kind of 'rumour' warrant this kind of reporting?

wonder what kind of stardard the newspapers here are adopting?

Friday, October 27, 2006 6:46:00 am

Blogger kelvin said...

what a crock of rubbish.

it was a clear opinion piece that is in no way meant to be objectively factual but a reflection of sentiments on the ground.

And whoever suggested that a national newspaper has no place in political discourse and analysis?

It seems to me that it has a place largely when the political issue favors the incumbent and no place when it doesn't.

those standards are enforced because they can't really talk / analyze anything of real value since it is likely to be crossing the ever-shifting OB markers.

Friday, October 27, 2006 9:53:00 am

Anonymous Edwin said...

Prostitution, Drugs, Gambling.

I am not attempting to classify Internet discussions in the same category as these vices as such. But Governments all over the world have had to face virtually the same type of dilemma: Over-regulate and you create a black-market that totally runs out of control, and out of sight of the authorities. Before u know it, it becomes a huge problem. And then you spend billions of dollars trying to do enforcement which turns out snapping a few heads over the gallows, but leads no where nearer to the ideal world.

De-regulate and then you run the risk of things going wild. Recall that it was Mr George Yeo himself who presided over the movie ratings policies that gave rise to R-rated and then subsequently R(A) rated movies. We learned our lessons there.

In an ideal world, everything should be de-regulated because supply and demand will find an equilibrium point (arbitrage) and the equations will balance itself on its own - over time. This is how "democracies" have developed over time. Societies have been allowed to mature on its own, at its own pace.

Question is: Can Singapore do the same - can we afford this luxury? According to the PAP government, the answer is No. Because so much has been achieved in such short time that no one wants to see our country degenerated into a chaotic (albeit vibrant) mess and then have it slowly re-evolve again all in the name of freedom, democracy and the American way.

Therefore, the government needs to, again, thread carefully and strike a very difficult balance. And when you strike an artificial balance (as opposed to a real arbitrage situation), you are going to piss someone off. In my opinion, either way, you (the government) lose. The only winner can only be the public at large in the long run, hopefully.

I don't envy the Ministers' work - but that's what they are paid to do.

Viva Singapura!

Friday, October 27, 2006 10:40:00 am

Blogger limyengchuan said...

Why words matter more in some situations:Priming.

During cadet training, I learnt that explosives do not go off unless there is a primer present.

In psychology, I learnt that reaction to a word depends on priming beforehand.

Though not desired no engineered, there is a divide, which serves as a primer. For the people living upstairs, is is prudent not to throw scorns downwards, or in slang: when shit hits the ceiling fan, everyone below it gets really upset.

Friday, October 27, 2006 12:31:00 pm

Anonymous mr cow said...

I'm awaiting for Mr George Yeo's response. Are you still there Mr Yeo?

Friday, October 27, 2006 11:28:00 pm

Anonymous doink said...

you know, i wonder if my yeo reads all this comments....

Sunday, October 29, 2006 9:51:00 am

Anonymous jac said...

i believe that this blog has achieved its objective. to attract readers (youths in particular) to come forward and express their views on politics or issues happening in sg. I'm surprised by the extremes views that we all have to the same issue. we shld reflect on the views and asked why would it happen instead of just slamming the government on how they are not helping the community. e.g. if the gov can reach out to all poor and needy. why do we even need ngos? why do we even have volunteers? all singaporeans will then become snobs and live in their own luxury instead of coming forth to be volunteers n helping others. its all about own initiatives and how u can contribute to shape our very own home.

Friday, November 03, 2006 10:15:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

does BG yeo ever read and respond to these comments? I wonder??

Sad man

Sunday, November 26, 2006 2:33:00 pm


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