Govt’s handling of recent cases erodes trust in public institutions

Besides the obvious campaign against the online community which the government (and the government mouthpiece, the mainstream media) is engaged in, there are several pressing matters which seem to have been given little attention by the authorities, the media and the public these last few weeks.

In the same period, we heard ministers extolling the virtues of “good politics”, of “integrity” in governance, of upholding public confidence and trust in our public institutions. The last of these has been a matter of great concern to the government, given how articles in its mouthpiece, the Straits Times, have urged the public to well, have trust in our public institutions.

The blame for the perceived erosion of this trust has been laid squarely – again – on the online community.

Kishore Mahbubani, for example, the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, wrote in the Straits Times in April:

“I am extremely worried about the cynicism that the Singaporean blogosphere is developing towards…public institutions. Over time this cynicism could act like an acid that erodes the valuable social trust accumulated.”

2 months later, Straits Times “opinion editor” Chua Mui Hoong echoed Mahbubani’s sentiments.

“I understand the instinct to protect and uphold public institutions. I also agree with diplomat Kishore Mahbubani … that Singaporeans should support the nation’s public institutions.” Continue reading “Govt’s handling of recent cases erodes trust in public institutions”

WP “turned its back on a scrap”?

Zuraidah Ibrahim, who incidentally is the sister of Minister Yaacob Ibrahim who wants to censor the Internet, wrote a piece in the Sunday Times.

It’s titled:

stzi

It would take much time to rebut the things she said. So, I won’t. (Jentrified Citizen has rebutted her here.) But to show you the carelessness and laziness with which she wrote that piece, I’ll just point out one of her assertions.

She wrote:

“This is not the first time that the WP has turned its back on a scrap. When the Aljunied town council’s finances were debated in May, clear evidence was presented to show that the WP did not go through a tender process when it appointed its managing agents, who happened to have close party ties.”

I don’t know where Zuraidah has been but if she had just done some simple research, she would realise that WP did not “turn its back on a scrap”, not the one she mentioned, anyway. Continue reading “WP “turned its back on a scrap”?”

Attention: shoddy reporting damaging “high standards”

Picture from mrbrown.com
Picture from mrbrown.com

“Were they helping to clarify and reject online rumours, or were they helping to spread them or even create them?” Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim asked on 9 July 2013 in Parliament.

He was referring to what he described as “prominent members of the online community” and some online postings during the period when S’pore was covered by the haze. (See here.) He cited several examples of “rumours” being propagated online to justify the government’s introduction of new Internet censorship regulations.

I wrote a piece to rebut the minister. Read it here: “Yaacob Ibrahim’s opportunism and cheap shots“.

Taking pot shots at the online community has been quite the norm, compared to the government’s attitude towards the mainstream media. As far as the mainstream media are concerned, ministers heap praises on them. Former minister for Information and Communications, Lui Tuck Yew, described the mainstream media as “a trusted source” which is “accurate, timely and balanced in its reporting”. (See here.) Continue reading “Attention: shoddy reporting damaging “high standards””

Being a (superhuman) blogger

super-hero-blogger

This is not going to be a proper blog post in that I’d put too much thought into it. I am just going to write what is in my head regarding this. So, here goes.

I was just pondering on the 7 years or so which I have been blogging. And I observe how even back then – in 2006 – bloggers were already being criticised and smeared, both by the government and the government-controlled mainstream media. This is by now a well-known fact.

What is also interesting to note is how expectations of bloggers have changed throughout these years. Well, some expectations have changed while others haven’t. And by ‘expectations’, I mean those from the government.

I remember back in 2005/2006, the main criticism was that bloggers were anonymous. And indeed, many and most were. This gave the government and the mainstream media the opportunity to try and discredit bloggers based on this. Oh, you’re anonymous, and thus you’re not credible.  Continue reading “Being a (superhuman) blogger”

Ravi Philemon spreading rumours? Or ministers trying to score political points?

responsible

It is a bit strange to accuse others of causing panic when it is one’s own action (or lack of) and other circumstances which are the real cause.

When the Pollutants Standards Index (PSI) breached the 300-mark for the first time on Wednesday, 19 June, it was the worst reading in Singapore’s history. That level of pollutants in the air also brought S’pore’s air quality into the “hazardous” zone. The PSI was 321.

The next day, Thursday, 20 June, that record-high mark was again breached when the PSI rose to 371.

The Ministry of Health had to reassure the public that there was enough masks to go round. On the same day, the Government announced that it was setting up a Haze Inter-Ministerial Committee (HIMC), to be led by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

The next day, Friday, 21 June, the air quality was a stunning PSI of 401. Continue reading “Ravi Philemon spreading rumours? Or ministers trying to score political points?”

Muddle-headed minister

400afp_yaacobSome of us had expected that he would do it – and he did.

Minister for Communications and Information (MCI), Yaacob Ibrahim, accused “prominent bloggers” of not speaking up against what he described as false information being propagated online during the recent haze episode in Singapore. He gave some specific examples, including the incident where a screenshot of the PSI of “393”, for which NEA was accused of removing from its website, went viral. He also pointed to how Ravi Philemon had posted about how the masks were not going to be distributed to the public.

[Read Ravi’s reply here. It is worth noting that the Health Minister, Gan Kim Yong, revealed – in today’s Parliamentary sitting as well – that the 9.5 million masks were not meant for the general public, but that they were meant for healthcare workers, if the H7N9 should hit S’pore.]

The minister, understandably, would grasp at straws to hold up the set of MDA Internet regulations which have been found to contain many holes in it. And thus, we had expected that he would use the recent haze episode to prop up his arguments and justification for tighter Internet control. Continue reading “Muddle-headed minister”