PAP’s disguised attempt to control dissent on Internet

November 12, 2003
Singapore Democrats

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It does not come as a surprise that the Singapore government has given itself yet more powers to monitor and crackdown on Internet users here. The latest amendment to the Computer Misuse Act sends a chilling message to the people that the Government can on any pretext arrest and imprison anyone whom it suspects to be a hacker.

Given the appalling record of the PAP and its use of the Internal Security Act to detain without trial its political opponents and civil society leaders, the introduction of the new cyber-law will curtail the development of democracy and freedom of speech in Singapore even more.

It is a sign that the ruling party is growing increasingly concerned about the spread of information and dissenting views though the Internet. Already there is precious little as far as intelligent life in Singapores mass media is concerned the country ranked 144 out of 166 countries in a recent survey conducted by Reporters Without Borders on governments’ respect for press freedom.

This new law means that the Singapore Government can now turn its attention on the Internet which has been at the forefront of disseminating news and dissenting views of Singaporeans who want to see democratic and economic reforms in this country.

The excuse to prevent cyber-terrorists from wreaking havoc in Singapore is just that an excuse. Unlike conventional terrorists who have to physically come to Singapore to plant explosives, those who want to send computer viruses can conduct their work from any part of the world. If these hackers are not based in Singapore, is the Government going to arrest and bring them back and detain them without trial? If not, whats the use of implementing such a law when hackers, who by nature are not unintelligent, can operate from the safety of an undisclosed location outside of Singapore?

While the Government waxes lyrical about Internet security it refuses to take action on several cases of hacking of opposition party websites and Internet newsgroups. To date the Government refuses to remove pornographic material found on the Singapore Democrats previous URL (www.singaporedemocrats.org) even though it has full knowledge of the matter. The SDPs present website www.singaporedemocrat.org was again hacked into recently and the PAP Government has again refused to do anything.

This new law must be exposed for what it is another disguised attempt by the ruling party to control the use of the Internet by Singaporeans and to curtail the spread of discussion and dissent in Singapore’s cyberspace.

Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party