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Opposition bypasses pro-government media with Internet podcast
A Singapore opposition party tested the limits of free speech by launching a “podcast” on its website denouncing the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) ahead of independence day celebrations.
Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan raised such issues as government transparency, high salaries of cabinet ministers and other issues in a nine-minute recording posted on www.singaporedemocrat.org.
“The podcast is a way for the party to bypass the state-controlled media in Singapore,” Chee said in a statement.
Chee said the website recordings — which he christened RadioSDP — will include speeches of party leaders, analysis of political developments, interviews of dissidents living in exile and, later on, call-in programs.
Podcasting is an increasingly popular practice through which audio files are made available on the web by amateurs or non-commercial organizations for listening at the users’ convenience, unlike real-time broadcasting.
“Airwaves in the country are monopolized, cable television is owned by a government-linked company, satellite dishes are banned, and the press is controlled by the ruling party,” Chee said.
“The Internet remains a medium that the government finds it hard to censor, although it has enacted many laws aimed at curtailing the use of the Internet for political purposes,” he added.
He encouraged Singaporeans to use podcasting to “breach the control of the media by the PAP government.”
The PAP, which led Singapore to independence from Malaysia in 1965, remains firmly in control of Singapore as the city-state prepares to celebrate 40 years as a republic on August 9.
It holds all but two of the 84 elected seats in parliament. The current prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, is the son of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, now a senior adviser in the cabinet with the title minister mentor.
Singapore Rebel Urges Free-Speech Podcasting
Could Mark Cuban have been–wrong? The loquacious billionaire predicted that podcasting would slip into oblivion, à la streaming content.
The linguistic portmanteaux of “broadcasting” and “iPod”–the cult status gadget from Steve Jobs‘ Apple Computer – denotes a wireless medium that is alternately touted as the next big thing and slammed as a flash in the pan.
But whether or not podcasting promises riches, it just may be the next frontier in political freedom.
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), an opposition group, tested the city-state’s authoritarianism by launching a podcast on its Web site that denounces the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) ahead of the country’s 40th anniversary Independence Day celebrations
On the podcast, SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan spoke about opaque government practices, bloated cabinet ministers’ salaries and other chancy topics in a nine-minute recording. “The podcast is a way for the [SDP] to bypass the state-controlled media in Singapore,” Chee declared in a statement. He encouraged his countrymen to use podcasting to “breach the control of the media by the PAP government.”
Singapore Opposition party launches Internet radio
A Singapore opposition party has launched “podcast” on its Web site in an attempt to bypass state-controlled media and reach out to citizens.
The Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) secretary-general, Chee Soon Juan, in a nine-minute audio recording posted on its Web site (www.singaporedemocrat.org), rapped the government over issues such as high salaries of ministers and the lack of transparency and accountability.
“Podcast is way for the party to bypass the state-controlled media in Singapore,” said Chee on the Web site.
Podcasting is an increasingly popular medium through which audio files are made available on the Internet, allowing websurfers to download files for listening at their convenience.
The SDP said it would also feature call-in programmes on its Web site in future.
“The Internet remains a medium that the government finds it hard to censor, although it has enacted many laws aimed at curtailing the use of the Internet for political purposes,” Chee said.
The government bans non-commercial private ownership of satellite dishes, publications need permits to circulate and newspapers are published by the government-linked Singapore Press Holdings.
In 2001, prior to a parliamentary poll, new laws were introduced to control the dissemination of political messages via the Internet and in text messages on mobile phones.
The Media Authority of Singapore (MDA), the city-state’s media watchdog, said podcasting comes under current media laws.
“The MDA will continue to study developments in this area and refine its approach,” said Casey Chang, spokeswoman for the MDA, declining to spell out whether the SDP would be contravening any law by podcasting.
The SDP’s podcast launch comes amid talk that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong may call for an early election to seek a symbolic vote of confidence after taking power on August 12, 2004.
The ruling People’s Action Party has dominated parliament since independence in 1965. It won 82 of 84 seats in November 2001 elections and has never lost more than four seats in any election. The SDP has no seats in parliament.
In January, Chee, a free-speech activist, lost a legal battle against defamation charges brought by Singapore’s founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and his successor Goh Chok Tong for questioning their use of public funds during the 2001 poll. Chee was ordered to pay S$500,000 in damages.
In May, Amnesty International criticised Singapore’s human rights record, saying that control on political expression in the wealthy Southeast Asian city-state remained tight despite Prime Minister Lee’s repeated calls for more openness.
The government says a high degree of control over public debate and the media is needed to maintain law and order.
Singapore Democratic Party Adopts Podcasting as Tool for Freedom of Political Speech
The Singapore Democratic Party has announced the launch of RadioSDP, the first political “podcast” in Singapore. (While SDP characterizes RadioSDP as a podcast, we were unable to find a podcast newsfeed.)
SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan has given the inaugural address, in which he highlights the Party’s manifesto and raises issues regarding transparency and accountability.
The podcast is a way for the party to by-pass Singapore state-controlled media.
RadioSDP plans to distribute speeches of its leaders, analysis of political developments, interviews of dissidents living in exile and feature call-in programs for citizens. Where necessary or feasible, the messages will be podcast in the four main languages of English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil.
“We encourage Internet users to play the podcasts to the older generation of Singaporeans such as your parents and grandparents who may not have the necessary computer and literacy skills to read our website,” notes the SDP. ” The SDP would like to encourage Singaporeans to use Internet podcasting to breach the control of the media by the PAP Government.”
Singapore Democratic Party launches political podcast
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has launched RadioSDP.
It’s believed to be Singapore’s first political “podcast.”
Podcasting is a way of broadcasting sound over the Internet, allowing users to subscribe to a feed of MP3 files.
In a media statement, SDP’s Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan said RadioSDP would webcast speeches of the party’s leaders and analyses of political developments.
SDP’s podcast aims to bypass Singapore’s mass media, to change the way political messages are communicated.
So under what circumstance is political podcast allowed in Singapore, if at all?
A spokesperson from the Media Development Authority tells Channel NewsAsia that it will continue to study the latest developments in the area and refine its overall approach.
She adds that MDA has instituted a “light-touch approach” to its Internet regulatory framework.
But MDA says an Internet content provider is required to abide by the terms and conditions of the current Class Licence Scheme and the Internet Code of Practice.
SDP’s Chee Soon Juan takes his message to the Internet
Derrick A Paulo
He has tried to do it through his books. He has tried to do it via his party’s newsletter. Now, opposition leader Chee Soon Juan intends to reach out to Singaporeans by turning up the heat – and the volume – on the Internet.
Yesterday, the Singapore Democratic Party became the first political party in the country to get its voice across, literally, to voters by launching a dedicated online audio relay service on its party website www.singaporedemocrat.org.
The party calls it RadioSDP, except it is not “broadcasting”, but “podcasting”, which is the practice of making audio files (most commonly in MP3 format) available online in a way that allows software to automatically download the files for listening at the user’s convenience, according to one definition.
Singapore’s first “political podcast” was a denunciation of the ruling party by SDP secretary-general Dr Chee, who raised issues about the lack of transparency and accountability in government, among others, in a nine-minute recording.
In a statement on the website, he said that the podcast is a way for SDP to “bypass the state-controlled media in Singapore”.
The statement added: “Airwaves in the country are monopolised, cable television is owned by a government-linked company, satellite dishes are banned, and the press is controlled by the ruling party.
“The Internet remains a medium that the Government finds it hard to censor, although it has enacted many laws aimed at curtailing the use of the Internet for political purposes.”
The last time legislation was introduced to control political advertising and e-campaigning was four years ago, prior to the 2001 General Elections. Then, the Parliamentary Elections Act was amended to govern the dissemination of political messages, including via email and SMS, at the hustings.
Currently, political parties use their websites to feature candidate profiles, announcements, manifestos, party posters, the party’s position on issues and moderated chats and discussion forums.
The Media Development Authority confirmed that podcasting does come under the current regulatory framework. It is still studying developments in this area, it told Today.
On his podcast, Dr Chee said “there is no better time” than the nation’s 40th birthday period to launch RadioSDP.
The SDP plans to upload recordings of the speeches of its leaders, analyses of political developments, interviews with dissidents living in exile, and call-in programmes for citizens in the future.