Defamation laws are rightly there to limit the freedom of speech and protect reputation. Cyberbullying laws if they are ever enacted in Singapore and they should, are to limit people’s right to harass. Sexual harassment laws, I presume there are some in Singapore, are to redress sexually intimidating speech. The Sedition Act has become the law in Singapore to deal with hate crime, limits what one can say about another’s race. The Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, is a law to limit what one can say about another religion.
What is the fine line between objectionable, inappropriate or insulting speech and threatening, intimidating or harassment speech is very subjective. Some victims are more thick-skinnned that others. Some offenders are smarter than others by packing hate speech as satire or parody, veiling harassment or hate with humour, sarcasm, mimicry or metaphor.
So in an obtuse nutshell, there are already many laws to deal with content in the Internet that harass or harm. Let the court deal with irresponsible and unlawful expression in the Internet. There is no need for the type of MDA licence of popular news sites that the government pulled out of his drawer.
The other question is whether the press should be “free” in Singapore? Yes it should be. There should be a WP-backed paper or station to compete with a PAP-backed media machinery, something like what is happening in other democracies like the UK where it is usually clear which paper supports Conservatives or Labour and readers can decide which biased view they want to read as the ultimate indisputable truth.
Which is same yet different right now in Singapore’s media. The situation now is that if one wants biased anti-PAP views, they can read content in the Internet. On the other hand if one wants biased pro-PAP views, they can read the ST. That is oddly proof of a free press already in Singapore considering that the Internet press has overtaken the papers.
Filed under: Media