Government should withdraw actions against bloggers

Singapore Democrats

The SDP is concerned about recent legalactions or threats of legal action issued by various Governmentdepartments.$CUT$

Websites such as EDMW Loves Singaporeand The Real Singapore that had commented or carried comments on theoutcome of the courts were ordered by the Attorney-General’sChambers to remove the offending posts.

The Council for Private Education hasthreatened a 21-year-old blogger with a defamation lawsuit forcomments related to the Council.

Cartoonist, Mr Leslie Chew, wasarrested for sedition and questioned for almost three days over hiscartoons.

Freelance journalist, Ms Lynn Lee, hasbeen warned that action may be taken against her for filming SMRT busdrivers who were convicted for going on a strike.

Freedom of expression is not onlyguaranteed under the Singapore Constitution but also an importantavenue where the people provide feedback, often on public policy andservice. Such commentary come in various forms, some in a moreserious tone and others in light-hearted satire.

Citizens who critique matters of publicinterest help to contribute to good governance. A bold and outspokenpublic will help to encourage independent thinking which will, inturn, foster innovation and enterprise – qualities that will help toregenerate our economy and make it more competitive.

If the Government and its agenciesdisagree with the views or finds them not in order, they should issue responses and, ifnecessary, engage the writers in a debate. These are opportunities toeducate the Singaporean public of how the Government works. Throughpatient explanation and persuasion, the authorities will gain theconfidence and respect of the people – even though differences inopinion may remain. Ultimately, Singaporeans appreciate reasonedargument.

By taking legal action,however, the Government may silence its critics. This will breedresentment and misunderstanding among Singaporeans which is nothealthy for our nation.

The PAP Government must accept that asour country matures Singaporeans, unlike in the past, areincreasingly concerned about the public policy and want to speak upin our country’s decision-making process. Their voices are becominglouder with the Internet age. They should be welcomed, not silenced.

For the reasons cited above, the SDPcalls on the Government to withdraw its legal actions.