The Young Democrats deplores the latest move by the Government to impose new rules for campaigning on the Internet (Straits Times, July 26, 2001).
This new legislation is yet another sorry attempt by the PAP to prevent the Opposition from effectively reaching out to voters during elections. With the local media in the hands of the ruling party and the continued restrictions on the foreign media, the Internet is the only other avenue for the Opposition to conduct its campaign activities.
The PAP’s efforts to control the dissemination of political information on the Internet indicates not only its insecurity in open debate, but also its lack of faith in the people’s ability to make up their own minds. These are not signs of a Government confident of the people’s support.
The discretionary powers given to the Government, as with many other laws in Singapore, is an abuse of the rule of law. Legislature should be used for the good of society, not just the ruling party. As such the Government must be specific in what it allows or prohibits. Merely indicating that “election advertising” is not allowed gives the minister unchecked powers to hamper the efforts of the Opposition during elections.
The efforts of the PAP to deny Singaporeans their voice is doomed to fail. The prevention of a free flow of information will hurt Singapore in the long run. As recent events in Asia have shown, authoritarianism in any guise will ultimately come to grief.