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The recent online attacks on Mr Siew Kum Hong and his reputation is unworthy and cowardly. They come in the aftermath of the Aware imbroglio where Mr Siew spoke up against the “new ex-co” for taking over of the organisation. The message accused Mr Siew of being funded by foreigners and that he is a mole of the SDP.
But as nonsensical and distasteful as these slurs may be, making reports to the police, which Mr Siew did a couple of days ago, is not the solution.
In the first place, the attacks were written and passed around on the Internet. The writer chose to remain anonymous which is what the overwhelming majority of Internet users do. This ability to hide one’s identity is both good and bad.
Good because many stories which would not otherwise see print in the state press are reported on the Internet. Without the cover of anonymity that the Internet provides, much of such information would not get into the public domain as its sources would be too afraid to reveal their identities.
Bad because people can write scurrilous things about you and get away with it.
Of course, we want to keep the good and get rid of the bad. But that’s not possible with the Internet because this is the nature of the beast. We have to take the bitter with the sweet.
But that’s not to say that those attacked are completely helpless. The best way to stop these attacks is to take the accusations head on like what Mr Siew did and refute them. Challenge the accuser to produce the evidence to back up his or her claims, and even offer to reproduce them on your blog.
Then proceed to demolish these allegations with reason and facts. In other words take the fight to the accuser.
If the attacker refuses to take up the challenge, there is only one of two things he or she can do: Shut up or step up with the ad hominem attacks. Either way the silliness of the attacker will be made plain for all to see.
By going to the police, however, we send the signal that we want the identity of the perpetrator revealed so that action can be taken.
If the police launch a probe and uncover the individual, what happens to the Internet? Would it not lose its usefulness as a alternative source of news and analysis? Will not users start to look over their shoulders every time they post a message especially one that is unflattering of the powers-that-be? What will that do to the cause of democracy where a free flow of information is crucial?
Get the police involved and we destroy the promise that the Internet offers.
For those of us who are involved in the political and social spheres where public debates and taking sides are the norm, there will always be attacks against our persons and reputations. Get used to it.
But good leaders should not seek to take action, even though we can, against those who speak ill of us. However venomous and hurtful the words may be, we should rise above the attacks and seek dialogue and debate with our opponents.
The Singapore Democrats have been called all sorts of names and attacked in all sorts of ways. For us, the best way to deal with these attacks is to use this website to expose these lies with reasoned confrontation and in so doing show up the silliness and emptiness of such people.
Through the years, we have had to endure not just words but punitive actions as well. We have no recourse to the police because sometimes they are our accusers. In such instances, what do we do? We hold on to the truth and speak it at every opportunity we get.
We refute their allegations with reasoned argument and we let the force of logic be our weapon. We may be on the receiving end of the PAP’s oppressive tactics presently, but things will change because history is on our side and the truth will ultimately prevail. It always does.
As for the comment that Mr Siew Kum Hong is a mole of the SDP, we wish to state for the record that the Singapore Democrats have little or no contact with the NMP. In fact, we are opposed to the NMP scheme because it is used by the PAP to undermine democracy in Singapore. As such, as highly as we may think of the individuals selected as NMPs, we have no interest in asking them, Mr Siew included, to speak on our behalf.
We wish Mr Siew the very best in all that he does.