[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

Monday, May 19, 2008

[Double-edged sword]
I've been thinking about blogging about this for some time but an article on Lee Kuan Yew on The Online Citizen prompted me to swing into action. The article is about a video titled One Nation Under Lee by Seelan Pillay. From the title it is clear what the film is about.

The Internet is a double edged sword. Firstly, one is able to find information that is not widely reported in mainstream media. For example, I find NTU Prof. Cherian George's analysis of newspaper articles interesting. You get a critical analysis of what was deliberately played down or omitted from mainstream media.

I digress.

A project that I did last term was about the Internet and Internet regulations. Our team evaluated the different acts (such as copyright acts) and argued why some were necessary. Censorship of the Internet was definitely out of the question. Why? Because of the fact that the Internet was built for multi-networked sharing with the content owned not by one single individual - it is the notion of shared resources which can be used by all and modified by all (think shareware). Therefore, we argued what right the Government had to censor the Internet. However, we also realised that there were instances which the Government should intervene for example pertaining to sensitive issues but not restricted to covering up on the flaws and/or improper Governance (which I will not elaborate on).

The next important issue then is the issue of credibility - what information should you take at face value and what should you take as the truth? An example was this talk about how some individuals and big bosses in Today newspaper were reprimanded in a session with Minister Mentor Lee. The issue was with regard to how MM Lee had managed to find aid for Mrs Lee in a London hospital by asking for help from 10 Downing Street. Such stories are not reported in mainstream media and are interesting nuggets. But do we just take them as rumours or as the gospel truth?

The notion of censorship of the presses is not something new. In the past, in England, Kings sentenced commoners to the gallows for challenging authority. This then evolved through the years and the four theories of the press were developed. Needless to say, one such model was the authoritative model. The others include communist media, libertarian model and the social responsibilty model.

The libertarian model according to John Milton is based on the phrase "marketplace of ideas" where citizens choose what they wanted to read about just like how a shopper is like in a market - well, in a sense, different strokes for different folks.

In the authoritarian model, there exists four thrusts - censorship, licensing, bribery and repression.

I feel that countries select their theories of the press in accordance with their models of Government. Some may be inherited because of the nature of how the country evolved (path dependent). While others think such a model is best for their people (this I am not quite sure). The notion of what is "best for the people" would always be challenged.

The benefits of libertarianism and the social responsibility model could well be the best out of the four theories but it takes two hands to clap - the Government and the people. For libertarianism to replace authoritarianism in the world is idyllic but not impossible. As countries move from communist ideologies to democractic ones because of the benefits that can be reaped thought the market economy, systems and theories of their countries' presses can and should change.

One cannot imagine having a first-world nation with a third-world press. That, in itself, would be jarring.

3 Comments:

Blogger black feline said...

what an anti climax..so much rhetoric..bottom line..what's your take on the video? that's what we r keen to know after throwing out all the bones!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 11:33:00 am

 
Blogger Ephraim Loy said...

It seems that protests reap little efforts and even implicates and harms individuals. I am all for the use of new media but censorship of the Internet does exist but worth the try. The video is touching and I wanted to post it here but it is not a good idea.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 8:43:00 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> I wanted to post it here but it is not a good idea.

--> You will offend MM Lee, should you post your thoughts on the video. Am I right?

Monday, June 16, 2008 11:40:00 pm

 

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