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Below is an interview The Straits Times (ST) recently conducted with Internet news group The Optical(O)
ST: What is the number of users/visitors now?
O: We have close to 2000 subscribers to our mailing list.
ST: Do you think yours is a political website?
O: It is mainly the mailing list that is being utilised and yes, one can say it’s political even though our newsletters do carry reports/opinions on social and economic issues.
ST: Do you have the the Internet laws on electioneering at the back of your minds at you are doing this, even though elections are unlikely to be some time yet?
O: These laws are unfair. If one takes into consideration factors like the ruling party’s tremendous influence over and through the local media, it is easy to see why such laws benefit the ruling party. To answer your question, The Optical’s not going to be cowed by such laws.
ST: What happens if you get a message from MDA asking you to stop putting up political content during the elections. How will you get around it?
O: The Optical’s not doing anything wrong and if the MDA thinks we’re breaking the law, then, it is an unjust law administered in a way to benefit the ruling party. The Optical will continue with what we’re doing.
ST: Do you think they are on to you, and that they can trace who you are if they want to? Are you afraid of that?
O: We don’t care even if they’re on to us or are trying to trace us as we’re not doing anything to the detriment of Singapore. We would suggest they worry more about the problems of terrorism, child and adult pornography and other worse things that abound in the cyberworld.
ST: What do you think of those laws?
O: An Independent Elections Commission (IEC) must be set-up and the Elections Department must be removed from the jurisdiction of the PMO. Such laws can then be reviewed, amended or new ones implemented by the IEC. Parliament does not fulfill it’s role in this regard as the PAP has an unfair majority.
ST: Do you think sites like yours, in isolation, or in total would have an effect on voter opinion?
O: We can only hope so.
ST: How would you characterise the ‘political’ stance of your site: pro-PAP, anti- or something else?
O: We do not wish to be categorised but we’re not perturbed if our newsletters seem to be anti-PAP in nature as we’re more concerned about the country. The PAP’s not S’pore and S’pore’s not PAP.