Thursday, 12 November 2009

Applied for your Singapore blogging license yet?

Blogging is a hapless business. Content is served up free for anyone who visits the site, either by chance or intentionally. Often, hours of work is summed up in a few moments by busy readers.
That is, unless you happen to court controversy. Then you pay the price, good and bad, for doing so.

Blogging is part of today's media. It is still finding a viable corner for itself in the media landscape but it is trying hard. Just as the word has entered our dictionary for good, bloggers are here to stay.
Blogging will not go away anytime soon.
Courting controversy as a blogging 'marketing' strategy is dangerous business, especially in strictly controlled societies. Consider the example of 'celebrity' Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez.
Last week Ms. Sanchez and a colleague were allegedly assaulted by Cuban security agents while walking to a rally. It is believed the objective is to intimidate Ms. Sanchez and fellow bloggers from criticizing the Cuban government.
If you want to help spread an idea then arrest someone. I am sure visitors to Ms. Sanchez's blog have skyrocketed since the assault.
Singapore, of course, is a more civilized society. There is no need to assault anyone. The recourse is via legal means and will uphold the rule of law. Exactly the approach one would expect in any enlightened society.
Singapore's famous Internal Security Act (1963) and laws pertaining to defamation are the weapons which bloggers should fear. Ask the Wall Street Journal or the now defunct Far Eastern Economic review about the efficacies and intricacies surrounding Singapore's defamation laws.
Still, I seem to have missed some dramatic changes in Singapore in the last five years. Singapore's blogosphere is not just vibrant but at time venomously hostile to the establishment. To date, I am unaware of any person sued into bankruptcy for their writings.

My apprehension is that some irresponsible site will cross the government's (unknown) line in the sand. Subsequently, Singapore's super efficient state apparatus will initiate close supervision of even the most obscure domestic sites.
No doubt a licensing regime of some sort will be implemented.
Once that happens many Singaporean bloggers may have to find another pastime. Their raison d'ĂȘtre is habitual government and PAP bashing. Surely, the axe will fall on many bloggers.
Me, I like to think that I can look MM Lee in the eye if he questions me about this site's content. We may not agree on some of my opinions but that is healthy, I hope!
MM Lee talked about the necessity of US engagement in SE Asia. The balance of power has to be maintained in Singapore's blogosphere too. At the very least, we can rely on the US State Department condemning the arrest of an 'innocent' blogger, on human rights grounds.
Still, I wouldn't stand around waiting for citizen journalism to be rescued by US diplomacy; Free trade and APEC diplomacy might just be more important to the US-Singapore relationship?


  1. You scared me. For a moment I thought we now had to apply for a license to blog! LOL

  2. Hi Jezebella,

    Nice of you to drop by again - I hope it was not just the title that enticed you back to the blog?!

    Have a nice day and hope to hear from you again soon.

    Kind regards,


    PS - My apologies for one of my earlier replies in which I mispelt your name - it was a typo.