SDP Website Wins Hitwise Public Popularity Award For Politics Friday, Apr 4 2008 

Click here to see the Hitwise media release (PDF) on the 2007 winners. SDP’s website won the award for “Politics” under “Lifestyle”. Here’s what SDP had to say…….

SDP website wins public popularity award, Singapore Democrats, 4 Apr 2008

The Singapore Democrats were awarded the Hitwise Singapore Online Performance Award for 2007 for our website.

Hitwise, an Australian-based company, informed the SDP of the results in March this year. The organisation announced that the award was a recognition of No. 1 websites across a variety of industries in Singapore.

It said: “This unique awards program recognises excellence in online performance through public popularity.”

The award was given based on internet usage of approximately 1.5 million Singapore Internet users visiting over 9,300 local websites during 2007.

Hitwise added that it measured “the largest number of websites and local Internet users of its kind throughout the course of the year.” Its methodology is audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The award ceremony was held yesterday.

The SDP thanks all of you for your support. We hope you will continue to do this by helping us publicise this website with your family and friends.

You can start by clicking on the “email” icon on the top right corner and sending this message to as many of your relatives, colleagues and friends as possible.

Help us spread the word of democracy and awaken the people of Singapore. This award means nothing to us if we cannot further our cause of speaking up for our fellow citizens.

Singapore Democrats’ New Look Wednesday, Apr 2 2008 

Its not an April Fools Day joke. πŸ˜‰

Welcome!, Singapore Democrats, I April 2008

…to our new home. You can even smell the fresh paint, can’t you?

We’re really pleased and excited to present to you our new website. As you can see, we’ve enhanced existing features and introduced new ones to make your visits here just that little bit more worthwhile.

Our top priority of bringing you important political news and analyses remains. The enhanced aesthetics is icing on the cake or, in more homely terms, the chai por on the chwee kueh. Equally important is that the website remains easy to navigate. All in, we hope you like it.

As with all good hosts, allow us give you a quick tour around the place. Our top menu carries the regular features of the party, our manifesto, archived material, etc.

Please note that on the left, you can access the page for financial contributions. For a party to grow we need funds. We need to keep our operations going and the only way that we can do this is if our supporters chip in. Please give generously. We thank those of you who have given in the past but the truth is that we need more finances just to cover our basic operations.

We’d also like to bring your attention to a new feature called Perspectives. This segment contains the more serious discussion pieces in our Vantage and Special Features sections as well as light-hearted snippets in Political Hors D’oeuvre. We’ve also added Feature Blogs where we will highlight well-argued essays from our talented blogging community.

We’ve also got a new Gallery section to house our photographs and videos that are multiplying by the week.

For those who are nostalgic, our Classics I and II will take you back to the older versions of the website. There’s much archived material there for those of you doing research.

For our younger readers, we encourage you to visit our Young Democrat page. In there you will find the YD’s Facebook. Come on in and be a friend.

Several of you have asked that we provide a News Feed service where you can be updated on SDP’s news and events. So here it is (bottom of the left column).

And if you wish to email a post to a colleague or friend, print it, or save a PDF format just click on one of the icons on the top right corner. And what about leaving a comment at the end of each post? Mi casa su casa. (Pseudo: That’s spanish for “my house is your house”)

Enough already! We’ll leave you in peace to explore the website.

Just one last word: Our new address is www.yoursdp.org. Please bookmark this and tell as many people as you can about us. This website is our only line of communication with Singaporeans (unless Dr Tony Tan has a change of heart). Our new email address is speakup@yoursdp.org. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it although the old one still works.

Thanks for your support all these years. We press on. Again, welcome.

Malaysia Opposition Win Shows Power Of Cyberspace Monday, Mar 10 2008 

By Bill Tarrant

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s weak opposition was up against a hostile mainstream media and restrictive campaign rules, but it can chalk up much of its stunning success in Saturday’s election to the power of cyberspace.

Voters exasperated with the unvarnished support of the mainstream media for the ruling National Front furiously clicked on YouTube and posted comments with popular bloggers about tales of sex, lies and videotapes in the run-up to Saturday’s election.

Jeff Ooi, a 52-year-old former advertising copywriter who made his name writing a political blog, Screenshots, won a seat in northern Penang state for the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP).

Elizabeth Wong, a human rights activist and political consultant who runs a blog, won a state assembly seat in the central state of Selangor.

YouTube, the phenomenally popular video Web site, did as much damage as any opposition figure could hope to inflict, after netizens uploaded embarrassing videos of their politicians in action on hot-button issues.

One YouTube video in January showed ruling party MP Badruddin bin Amiruldin causing a ruckus in parliament over whether Malaysia was an Islamic state. “Malaysia is an Islamic state”, he declared. “You don’t like it, you get out of Malaysia!”

Muslim Malays form the majority in multi-racial Malaysia, but ethnic Chinese and Indians account for a third of the population and they deserted the ruling National Front in droves, partly in outrage over the religious debate.

Sex, Sleaze, Corruption

Another YouTube video that got wide distribution shows a rambling and incoherent Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin, in a live interview with al-Jazeera, excitedly defending a police crackdown against peaceful protesters calling for changes to the electoral process in November.

Zainuddin was one of several “big guns” in the National Front that fell to the opposition’s onslaught.

Sex, sleaze and corruption were election issues and they all had video soap operas on Web sites.

Malaysia’s health minister resigned in January after admitting he and a female friend were the couple in a secretly filmed sex video uploaded on YouTube. That cost some votes.

“We were concerned about the morality of our leaders,” said Maisarah Zainal, a 26-year-old teacher in Kuala Lumpur. “It didn’t help that Chua Soi Lek was involved in a sex video.”

Loh Gwo Burne, who secretly videotaped a phone conversation, allegedly showing a high-profile lawyer trying to fix judicial appointments with Malaysia’s former chief judge, was elected to a seat in parliament from a seat in suburban Kuala Lumpur.

The grainy video hit a nerve in Malaysia, whose judiciary has been under question since the late 1980s.

Malaysia’s blogging community offer alternative views in a country where the government keeps a tight control on mainstream media. The government said last year it might compel bloggers to register with the authorities to curb the spread of malicious content on the Internet.

Government backers doubt whether bloggers turned opposition politicians could make their presence felt. “Beyond the major cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang, there’s not much the bloggers can really hope to accomplish,” says Mohamad Norza Zakaria, a leader in Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s UMNO party .

The Chinese-backed DAP, by contrast, appointed blogger Ooi to head the party’s “e-campaign”.

Even a barely literate 89-year-old grandmother running for parliament with little money and only a bicycle to get around on, hopped the cyberspace bandwagon with a Facebook profile and her own blog, courtesy of some Internet savvy supporters. Maimun Yusuf , however, lost. It wasn’t clear how many of her potential voters were hooked up to the Internet in northeastern Terengganu.

(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

Singapore Faces Blogging Ire Over Militant Escape Friday, Mar 7 2008 

By Melanie Lee

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s state-controlled media and government have come under fire from critics and Internet bloggers for failing to give the public important answers on the escape of a suspected Islamic militant.

With a cynical eye cast on local newspapers such as the pro-government daily, the Straits Times, critics say media coverage has skirted key issues and so more people were turning to alternatives such as blogs for a differing viewpoint.

“The mainstream media did its job of trying to play down the most shameful part of the incident. It is a blow to Singapore’s image as being efficient,” Seah Chiang Nee, a political commentator and former Singapore newspaper editor, told Reuters.

“The more Internet savvy would not depend on the mainstream media for news of what’s happening in the country, they would go to the Internet,” said Seah.

Mas Selamat bin Kastari, the alleged leader of the Singapore cell of al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah, a group blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, escaped on Wednesday last week from the toilet of a detention centre.

Security experts said the escape was embarrassing for a country that prides itself on tight security. The escape sparked an unprecedented manhunt in the small island and a rare apology from the government, who blamed a “security lapse”. But few further details of his escape have since been released.

Cherian George, an ex-Straits Times journalist and media lecturer, wrote on the Internet that the Singapore media had not answered the “immediate” question of how Kastari escaped.

“The question is so natural and so obvious that you’d think anyone barely paying attention would ask it. Unless, apparently, one worked for the national news media,” George wrote.

Loss of credibility

George said the absence of this question was due to media management by the government and that the main result would be a loss of credibility for the national media that would push readers to other sources.

Letters to The Straits Times have also poured scorn on the government’s handling of the crisis and flow of information.

“I am disturbed by the security lapse … more explanation is required,” wrote Rosemary Chwee Keng Chai in a letter.

Patrick Daniel, editor-in-chief of the Straits Times, told Reuters by email that the paper took its responsibility to readers seriously and that George was “utterly wrong” in his conclusion or that its journalists had never asked questions on how Kastari escaped.

“If Cherian had checked with us, we would have told him that we asked that question, and many others too, many times,” he said, adding the paper had run an article exploring the issue headlined “How did he manage to escape?” on Friday.

Reuters, a global news and information provider, repeatedly asked the Ministry of Home Affairs for more details on the escape but was either referred to its initial five-line statement or was unable to reach its spokeswoman by telephone.

Singapore retains a tight grip on its national newspapers through a comprehensive legal framework that requires, among other things, a publication permit to be granted at the discretion of the minister. A substantial shareholder of a newspaper company must also gain approval of a minister.

“I think that there was tacit understanding between the government and the media,” Catherine Lim, a prominent local author and political commentator, told Reuters.

“It’s a good working relationship. Local media would never be as inquisitive, probing or rambunctious as the Western media.”

Some bloggers had a field day, morphing Kastari’s face onto a poster for TV series Prison Break and saying even students doing examinations in the city-state were accompanied to the toilet.

MSK-funny poster

“We are not like those free-wheeling and chaotic governments from Western democracies that make their leaders accountable for every little thing,” wrote Lee Kin Mun, better known under his online moniker ‘Mr Brown’, Singapore’s most famous blogger.

(Editing by Neil Chatterjee and Alex Richardson)

SDP Website – A Case Of Information Sabotage? Tuesday, Feb 12 2008 

SDP website problems: Systems error or mischief-making?, Singapore Democrats, 12 Feb 2008

We reported yesterday that visitors to this website were automatically re-directed to an “Insurance” blog. We were unsure as to the cause of the problem and left it open to the possibility of a genuine computer-network anomaly.

However, deliberate mischief-making seems increasingly likely. Yesterday evening the Insurance blog popped up again, only this time the title read “SDP”.

A singular message was posted on the blog with titles that changed every time the blog was accessed such as “Interested in sdp?”, “Here are some my favorite sites about sdp”, and “The collection of sites about sdp”.

Below the title was the message: “Particulary (sic) I like the first site but other sites are informative as well, so if you have interest in sdp you should check all those links. I hope you’ll like them.” This was followed by a few comments.

While we would like to refrain from being alarmist, we are also reminded that PAP MP, Ms Denise Phua, had said in the aftermath of the last elections that the Government would have to “manage the Internet.” Minister Ng Eng Hen was subsequently reported to have sent PAP members to respond to its critics.

There is little doubt that the PAP is trying to ameliorate the overwhelming negative sentiment against it in cyberspace. The question is whether it tries to do this under disguise or in more blatant ways. The answer is probably both.

In this regard, we call on our supporters and friends on the Internet to be extra vigilant and to jealously guard the only space that we have left in Singapore where information and discussion can flow without obfuscation and censorship by PAP gate-keepers.

Previously, the SDP has been held hostage by the mainstream media. We depended on them to disseminate our news. But they have censored our information with a vengeance – and still do. A quick comparison with what is going on in this website with what has been reported in the newspapers and TV tells you the whole story.

Not only that, the newspapers have repeatedly refused to give us the right of reply when they write reports about us that contain half-truths and outright lies.

But with the Internet, the equation has altered. We now use this website not only to provide information about the party and our platforms, but also to build-capacity and organise our activities.

This website is, with few exceptions, updated on a daily basis. We have made use of new technology to make our communication with our fellow Singaporeans more effective and will continue to look to improve on this.

In fact, we are in the process of enhancing the capabilities of this website to further spread our message of democracy and political reform in Singapore. We will announce the changes in the coming weeks.

The one thing that cannot be said about the Singapore Democrats is that we come alive only during election time and hibernate during the interim.

Given all this, however, it would be surprising if we also did not attract attention from mischief-makers in cyberspace, especially those of the autocratic kind.

These encounters, and there have been a few, only proves to us that the SDP is pushing in the right direction and that we need to crank up a notch in our fight for justice and freedom in Singapore. In the meantime, we will monitor the present problem and rectify it.

We therefore ask you, our cyber-supporters, to help us spread the word about this website and to encourage your family and friends to visit us here.

Democracy, onward march!

{FOI} – Bloggers Want In On Panel’s New Media Study Tuesday, Nov 27 2007 

They plan to gather feedback, submit a paper to the govt-appointed council

by Jeremy Au Yong, Straits Times, 27 Nov 2007

WORRIED that a study on new media would be too focused on expert views, bloggers are getting together to make themselves heard.

Bloggers from two popular websites – yawningbread.org and theonlinecitizen.com – are calling for a meeting of Web ‘practitioners’ to gather feedback on how the Web should be regulated.

Notices posted on both sites say this of the government-linked study: ‘So far, those being consulted appear to be the elite – the experts.

‘There is a need for ordinary bloggers – and filmmakers who intend to put video material on the Internet – to get together and organise a submission to the relevant bodies, putting across the perspective of practitioners.’

Their plan is to have a small meeting of 20 to 25 bloggers on Dec 4 at The Substation in Armenian Street.

The study that triggered this move is conducted by the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society, or Aims.

The council was appointed by the Government in April to study the social, ethical, legal and regulatory impact of interactive and digital media.

Aims is still gathering information for a report that is due for release for public consultation in the first half of next year. As such, the conclusions are still up in the air.

Although Aims has invited some bloggers for roundtable discussions, it is not enough for bloggers like Mr Choo Zheng Xi, a law undergraduate at the National University of Singapore.

Said the 21-year-old who owns theonlinecitizen.com: ‘We thought a submission paper would be more impactful than five or six bloggers sitting with a whole lot of other people.

‘This is bloggers stepping up to bat. We want to take the lead in crafting the direction legislation will take. We don’t want to just provide feedback.’

Mr Alex Au, who runs yawningbread.org agreed, added that while Aims was the trigger for the meeting, it will not be the sole focus.

‘I don’t want to narrow it down. People may want to submit their feedback to other bodies or even get another parliamentary petition.’

Media researcher Tan Tarn How of the Institute of Policy Studies, who has been invited to the bloggers’ meeting, said the move is a win-win proposition.

‘A written submission, which will be debated by the public and blogged about will make the process of the study more informed and extensive.

‘For the bloggers, it’s useful to put out their views like this, as it is unfiltered.’

On the part of the council, chairman Cheong Yip Seng welcomed input from the meeting and stressed that Aims ‘intends to seek input from a wide cross-section of society, not just experts’.

He said: ‘We will be happy to consider submissions from anyone who believes he can help the development of interactive digital media and at the same time manage its ill-effects.’

Open Call For A Bloggers’ Meeting Sunday, Nov 18 2007 

Source: Yawning Bread

Background:

A government-linked body has embarked on a review of the regulatory framework over the internet. While the focus of the review seems to be “what to regulate and how to regulate”, there is a sense from those currently being consulted that the aim of this exercise is not liberalisation.

So far, those being consulted appears to be the elite – the “experts”.

There is a need for ordinary bloggers – and filmmakers who intend to put video material on the internet – to get together and organise a submission to the relevant bodies, putting across the perspective of practitioners.

This call for a bloggers’ meeting should interest those who often discuss politics and society in their work.

Date, time and venue:

Tuesday, 4 December 2007, 7 – 9 pm
At the Substation, Classroom 2. Armenian Street

This first meeting is meant for brainstorming the key issues; then to organise into teams to draft various parts of the intended submission. The teams have one week (till the second meeting) to work on their respective parts.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 7 – 9 pm
At the Substation, Classroom 2. Armenian Street

The second meeting is for the various drafts to be brought together and stitched/reconciled into a joint submission.

What to expect:

* Participants should be open about their identity; you may not remain anonymous.
* You should already be operating a blog, or producing content that is meant for uploading (e.g. videos, writing regularly for someone else’s blog)
* We should be able to accommodate up to 20 – 25 persons; we do not need a large crowd as that would be unwieldy.
* The meeting, once begun, will be “closed door” i.e. not open to reporting. No journalists allowed.
* Please get something to eat before the meeting starts; bring your own drink.

Background reading:

Participants are requested to familiarise themselves with the legal and regulatory background beforehand. We do not intend to waste time at the meetings just recapitulating the background.

Suggested reading (do a websearch):

1. Broadcasting Act
2. Media Development Authority of Singapore Act
3. Internet Code of Conduct
4. Internet Class Licence Scheme
5. Films Act
6. Parliamentary Elections Act
7. Election Advertising Regulations
8. Penal Code, Sections 298, 298A, etc
9. Penal Code, Sections 499, 505, etc
10. Sedition Act

Please help spread the open call for this meeting.

Bloggers Remove Blog Post On PM’s Son Saturday, Jul 14 2007 

A few days ago, Lim Yee Hung had a post titled PM’s son’s army gaffe and why we have to worry on his blog HUNGonline. As you can see, when you click the link, the post has been removed. Its about an e-mail written by 2LT Li Hong Yi (Prime Minister’s son) to his superiors in the SAF and the Minister of Defence. You can read about that here and here.

Hung’s original post has been replaced with this: The media has run it in the press. There’s nothing here now. To those who provided me with support these few days: a big heartfelt thank you. I’m very glad it all came to light, that I was able to effect something. I frankly believe that everyone came out the better for it. But the episode is over – it’s time to move on.

Why remove the post when updating it with new information would have been enough? Was he pressured or intimidated by his employer to remove it since, according to his profile, Hung’s a journalist with the Straits Times, a pro-PAP government newspaper? If not his employer, maybe MINDEF, or some other government department or agency? I had a feeling something like this was going to happen. So I had saved Hung’s original post along with the links in the post. (See below) The other interesting (or disturbing, depending on your point of view) thing about the original post: it provides a link to another blogger who has also removed his post on the same topic.

################

PM’s son’s army gaffe and why we have to worry

Read this from the HardwareZone’s forums and confirmed the story with a friend in the military. A few bloggers have blogged about it too.

2LT Lee Hong Yi, better known as PM Lee’s son, had fired off an e-mail within the military network lambasting the “quality of leadership” in the SAF to the top brass, including the Minister of Defence and the Chief of Defence Force.

He had done it after being punished for an error that was largely not his.

What was his fault, however, was involving just about the entire military force of Singapore in this one small matter of his, by addressing the e-mail to entire battalions of people. Committed by an ordinary serviceman, the offence would have warranted a formal military charge – and in an officer’s case, his rank may be stripped.

Nothing so far (or so I hear) has been done to 2LT Lee, save that the Commanding Officer of his unit gave a speech to the entire unit the next day about “following the chain of command”.

While one might argue that the e-mail comes from the military intranet and should not have been circulated in the general public (i.e. in HardwareZone), 2LT Lee surely could not have expected the matter not to leak out when he addressed it to so many people, most of them National Servicemen rather than full-time regulars.

If you looked through the thread, what’s worrying is not the blatant abuse of family ties, by a person who is highly likely to take up an important position in our society in future.

Neither is it the fact that he is being given favourable treatment on two counts: first, the lack of punishment for his offence, and second, his pending disruption from the army (which he mentioned in the article), despite not being bonded under a government scholarship, which, as far as I know, is the only official way of obtaining disruption.

And of course, it’s definitely not the “quality of leadership” in the SAF that 2LT Lee questioned that worries me.

No, it is the perceptible sense of fear in the Hardwarezone thread where the topic was discussed. No one dared to give the full details: one had to sieve through several pages of the thread before getting the full picture. Nicknames like “Bored Dragon” and “Golden bar” were given to the persons involved. There were even warnings given by concerned forum members about the ISD and MSD surveilling the thread.

If it were in other democratic countries like the US, such an incident would have been a scandal and generated a media frenzy. Questions would be asked about his conduct and his suitability for an important position in future. The public would have a field day airing their views on his actions.

What would have been the effect? 2LT Lee would learn a painful lesson in humility, and the transparency of the government would be highlighted, because they did not shield even the son of the most important official when he had done wrong.

The resulting fire of the public would simmer and die down, and the public would have been satisfied that their views were heard and their indignation expressed. That fire would have been a cleansing one.

Instead, the entire deed is hushed up. The original thread on HardwareZone was deleted. But perhaps the worst thing of all is that the public is censoring itself. People dare not to speak up about the topic.

Instead of fire, the incident is met only with self-defeat and fear. The public has lost its voice and its own opinion, and surrendered its position as the main critic of the government. And as we know, the local media surrendered its own position a long time ago.

It shouldn’t be this way.

Governments should fear people, not the other way round.

It’s just a minor incident – after all, there’ve been worse offences committed by officers in the SAF – but it speaks of a larger, darker, and insiduous problem.

“It does not do to rely too much on silent majorities, Evey, for silence is a fragile thing…one loud noise, and it’s gone…Noise is relative to the silence preceding it – the more absolute the hush, the more shocking the thunderclap.- V, V for Vendetta

Errata: Li Hongyi does have the PSC Overseas scholarship, my bad.

Somebody’s Watchin Me! Friday, Jun 15 2007 

First, a famous song by Rockwell featuring guest vocals by Michael and Jermaine Jackson. It was a big hit when it was released in 1984. The songwriters probably had some inspiration from George Orwell’s famous novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. πŸ˜‰

Recently, I read an article on Internet Service Providers (ISP).

Either directly or indirectly, the Singapore government owns or controls the ISPs here: Singtel’s Singnet; Starhub’s Starhub Internet; Pacific Internet and M1 .

I’ve written before about privacy in a police state.

Last year, Privacy International and EPIC launched a global study on privacy & human rights. As you can see from this table, Singapore has a score of 1 or 2 in almost every category surveyed, eg. constitutional protection; statutory protection; privacy enforcement; democratic safeguards, etc. 1 being “extensive surveillance/leading in bad practice” and 2 being “few safeguards, widespread practice of surveillance“. Its final score of 1.4 makes it one of the leading surveillance societies in the world. (Click here for the PDF version of the table and here for the briefing paper on the ratings table)

I leave you now with a link to a 2005 country report by Privacy International. The section on Singapore starts at page 599 to 609 of the document (pgs.44-54).

Magazine Names Local Blogger One Of Top 20 Asian Progressives Friday, May 18 2007 

Top 20 Asian progressives
Words by: Michael Backman, Asia Editor, World Business
Published: 09-May-07

Who are the modernisers and reformers steering the region towards good business practice, transparency and management excellence?

Other publications list Asia’s most influential, or its most powerful or richest, but World Business is more forward-looking than that. We have spotlighted the individuals driving Asia forward – those that are helping to bring about rules-based civil societies, or who are advancing the cause of better governance, be it in business or government. One of the greatest guarantees of freedom is the free-flow of information, debate and commentary, and so our list includes several who are integral to promoting debate where governments of the region seek to restrict it. Included are several prominent bloggers who risk their livelihoods to bring to the people of Asia commentary and opinion that is a matter of course in the West.

We have included some of the region’s prominent businesspeople, notable not only for their forward-looking approach but also for their philanthropy, which remains essential in Asia where governments for the most part lack sufficient resources to do all that should be done to take care of society’s most vulnerable. And there are some prominent legislators: Asia is home to some of the world’s most repressive regimes, but others, such as Vietnam’s current leadership, have shown a preparedness to ditch ideology in favour of improving their people’s welfare.

Some of the names will invite controversy: as administrator of Tibet, Hu Jintao was responsible for a crackdown in 1989 that saw hundreds of Tibetan protestors killed; Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad did not use his period of power to introduce greater transparency in government tendering or stamp out corruption in Malaysia’s police force; and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known as Prachanda, leader of the Maoists in Nepal, led a bloody decade-long war against the Nepalese government. But it is our contention that these individuals are now helping to reform Asia, so that in future the region’s citizens will enjoy greater freedoms than in the past.

###########

16. LEE KIN MUN (ALIAS MR BROWN), SINGAPORE

Singapore has some of the world’s tightest media restrictions. Little genuine public debate is permitted and investigative journalism is largely non-existent. The role of the media is to report government announcements rather than to hold the government to account. And so Singaporeans are fed a bland diet of lifestyle articles, world news often slanted to show Singapore in a good light by way of comparison, and news about government policy. Not surprisingly, Singapore has one of the world’s most active blogging communities. Genuine debate, opinion pieces and news appear on many Singapore-related websites.

Lee Kin Mun has become one of Singapore’s most widely read and influential bloggers through his social and political commentary website. Lee also produces a satirical podcast called the Mr Brown Show, which averages 20,000 downloads a day. It is sophisticated and hugely funny – and a stark contrast to what is available on local government-controlled television.

Such is the popularity of Lee’s blog that he was given a column in the government-controlled Today newspaper in a measure designed to demonstrate that the government could tolerate a measure of public debate. However, the experiment ended abruptly after Lee wrote a column on rising living costs. A government official complained that Lee had distorted the truth and Singapore’s prime minister claimed that Lee had made wild accusations.

Lee continues to publish and broadcast his satires and commentaries, providing Singaporeans with a vibrant and diversified media otherwise denied them.

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