The Media Development Authority’s (MDA) decision to regulate online news sites is worrying in and of itself. Any attempt to curtail the flow of information on the Internet in Singapore must be viewed with extreme caution.$CUT$
There is, however, another area of concern in this matter. The way that the regulations are crafted will easily extend to cover websites and blogs during elections.
In the lead up to general elections, Singaporeans look to alternative online portals for political news and information. This drives up traffic for the websites which can easily surpass the 50,000 monthly unique visitors mark that the MDA has set as the trigger point for regulation.
The SDP relies on this website to help us disseminate information about the SDP’s policies and candidates. In the weeks and months leading up to the polls, the number of visits to our website increases significantly.
In the 2011 elections, the number of visitors went beyond the 50,000 mark. We have every reason to expect this trend to intensify in the 2016 elections.
The requirement to put up the $50,000 bond will add to the already onerous $16,000 election deposit that a party has to make for every candidate. The playing field will be further tilted.
The decision to impose restrictions on Internet news will only frustrate Singaporeans’ desire for the development of a viable alternative to the PAP. It is regrettable that instead of abiding by the people’s wishes, the Government has instituted measures that will further stymie the progress of democracy in Singapore.
Our nation is at a crossroads. Our economy has reached a stage where it needs an open society that will foster innovative thinking and spur entrepreneurial activity. Without them, Singapore cannot compete with the best the world offers. If the PAP continues with its heavy-handed approach towards governance, Singapore will continue to remain unimaginative and conformist. These traits will not propel us forward.
For the good of our people’s future, we repeat our call for the Government to rescind the MDA regulations and leave the Internet free from Government interference.