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03 Feb 07
Members of Singapore’s long-ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) are posting anonymous messages in Internet forums and blogs to rebut online criticism of the party, a leading daily reported on Saturday.
The postings were an initiative driven by two sub-committees under the PAP’s “new media” committee chaired by Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen, the pro-government Straits Times said, citing unnamed sources.
A government spokeswoman contacted on Saturday declined to comment.
The two sub-committees, made up of politicians and some technology-savvy party activists, were formed after the May 2006 general election, the Straits Times said. The PAP’s share of the vote slid to 66.6 percent last year, from 75.3 percent at the previous election in 2001.
The panels had been set up to express the PAP’s views online where there were few pro-establishment voices, the newspaper said, quoting a member of parliament who heads one sub-committee.
“The identity is not important. It is the message that is important,” Baey Yam Keng was quoted as saying.
The Straits Times quoted Baey as saying that the messages were only effective if they were not “too obvious” lest they resemble “propaganda”.
A PAP activist involved in posting the anonymous messages was quoted as saying that he tracked popular blogs and forums to “see if there is anything we can clarify” on controversial issues such as the impending hike in the goods and services tax.
The PAP, which has ruled Singapore since independence in 1965, has been criticised by human rights groups such as Amnesty International in the past for its curbs on freedom of expression.
Party leaders say tight regulation of public debate and the media in the city-state is necessary to maintain law and order.