Nano Technological University (NTU), one of the city's premier universities, recently issued a circular to all students stating that "those who create web pages or blogs containing information regarding politics and religion must acquire proper licences from the Media Development Authority and the university's written approval."
University students waiting to receive blog registration forms
Not surprisingly, the edict has created controversy among NTU students. It is learnt that bloggers have started 'going underground' to avoid detection. Safe houses have spontaneously sprouted across the city.
A safe house typically comes equipped with 'anonymous' computers, i.e. untraceable IP addresses. At such venues, bloggers create and publish posts to their hearts content, regardless of the topic.
In a bizarre twist, bloggers are congregating based on subject matter. Religious bloggers are collecting in neighbourhoods on the Western shores of the Republic, while political bloggers are massing in the East.
Moreover, the crackdown on bloggers has resulted in an unprecedented show of solidarity. Bloggers are joining hands across party and religious lines.
Safe houses are being shared by atheists and fundamentalists. City Harvest Church (CHC) supporters take cover behind IP addresses normally reserved for CHC detractors.
On the East Coast, the picture is no different. Pro-foreign talent and anti-immigration Singaporeans have buried differences and issued joint statements condemning the registration requirements.
Unfortunately, the otherwise peaceful student civil disobedience movement has a more sinister side. Residents of many neighbourhoods have reported an alarming increase in the number of suspicious persons carrying laptops.
The new threat has prompted wi-fi hotspots to upgrade security. Many are hiring specialized security guards while others have ordered a fresh examination of existing corporate security policies.
A spokesperson for Moonbucks, a popular coffee chain, stated, "Management is alert to the increased risks of illicit use of Moonbucks hotspots. We have recently hired several security experts who are empowered to monitor all wireless devices used on our premises. Any suspicious keyboard activity will be reported immediately to the authorities. Patrons should know Moonbucks operates a zero tolerance policy. Genuine customers must feel safe while enjoying their usual aromatic blends in our comfortable, relaxing environment."
SK, the owner-operator of a franchise of cafes, stated that all customers between the ages of 17-25 will be voluntarily requested to certify that cafe facilities will not be used for any political or religious discussions. Within a few weeks, the written declaration will be replaced by an irrevocable 'opt-in' clause automatically carried on all receipts issued by the establishment.
Meanwhile, printers report that a large order for website registration forms was placed recently. The document will not be ready for some days as revisions required deletion of the telex information item and inclusion of a 'cell phone number' column. Cellular phones were not in widespread use when the original form was drafted.
It is believed the document was last used in 1991. Students of Singapore's modern history are ascertaining the exact date through a combination of scientific dating methods, including modern DNA technology.
TK, a prominent blogger, speaking from an undisclosed location said, "I have established contact with bloggers in Cuba and North Korea. Bloggers in those environments are familiar with such rules. In Singapore, we will adopt best-practice methods for dealing with the new perils facing NTU student bloggers."
Unconfirmed reports suggest that TK has since moved to a safe house in a neighbouring country, in order to avoid detection.
The above article first appeared in "The Singapore Fictional Times," September 10, 2010. The article and the daily are figments of the author's imagination.