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For Every Baby Step Forward there is… July 26, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

3 steps backwards! After reading the article Today and feeling abit optimistic about the future relationship between New Media and Mainstream Media, I must say I am bitterly disappointed to see the following article which was on the Straits Times. And I am even more disappointed to read from Gerald’s blog that though he was asked for his views, the ST article did not even mention it. And here Ned thought that the Today Article was a harbinger of better things to come.

Thus when one reads the article one would be forgiven if one leaves with the impression that the bloggers are a bunch of bungling jokers who are always sticking their hands into the fire and spreading gossip and misinformation. Since Ned has said much of it before (I think its all pure bollocks) Ned will try his best to restrain his comments to those raised in the article:

1) The article uses the example of the Lee Hong Yi incident, ostensibly to show case the lack of discretion of bloggers. The following quote by MP Charles Chong is particularly telling, especially when he goes on to say that he receives letters which are CCed to people of all positions, including but not limited to the President, the PM and MPs and so on. Firstly, with regards to the former, the Lee Hong Yi incident was indeed a cause of public concern for it highlighted salient facts about the military system which affects the lives of a very large proportion of Singapore male citizens (not those newly converted kind); in fact some males too have lost their lives or livelihoods due to the system. Thus Ned fails to see why there is a need to sweep everything under the carpet. And this incident does benefit society as a whole.

Secondly, with regards to Singaporeans broadcasting complaints beyond relevant recipients, perhaps we should go back to the aforementioned case of Lee Hong Yi. Assuming that his actions were commensurate with one who wanted to create greater awareness among the Army, the same can also be said of the youth who CC practically everyone under the sun. True, it gets tiring, but then again better a foolish idealist than an apathetic opportunist eh?

2. With regards to Dr Cherian George’s point, it is valid in so far as persuasion is concerned. However the question is, who is the person trying to persuade?  And will persuastion work in all cases? Just take a look at the current debate on homosexuality, it is evidently clear that unless the government takes the step of repealing the law the homophobes will never step down. To borrow one of Mr Wang’s phrases (though he was using it in the context of TAR), you can bring the donkey to the water but you cannot force it to drink. Furthermore the burden cannot always be on bloggers to act like moderates, the people need to learn to think for themselves by comparing the various views on the Net. Perhaps the Dr Cherian’s sentence was predicated on the fact that bloggers are generally ranting lunatics who are out to smear the establishment. As said time and again, that is a misconception

3) The use of Wee Shu Min and the blogger featured in the first paragraph could paint a negative picture of the blogosphere in general. To recap, the Wee Shu Min incident highlighted a rather disturbing lack of empathy which could have been prevalent among those from top schools thus making it an issue of public interest. Furtheremore several bloggers did step up to the bat in this instance, condemning her views but refraining from making smear attacks; a fact whith the ST has not highlighted, rather they chose to quote Wee Siew Kim’s lament that his daughter was misquoted (though I fail to see how she was misqouted, but then Ned is no MP and thus does not have the helicopter vision).

4) The use of Goh Meng Seng. While Ned does not know what comments Goh Meng Seng made online, the fact is Goh Meng Seng was from a political party and thus has to be even more careful given the public stance of his party. Many bloggers do not belong to political parties and thus are able to express their personal views. Of course that does not mean that we shoot our mouth for no reason what so far. And that we do not exercise discretion. In fact a perusal of the posts of bloggers would allow us to see that bloggers generally exercise discretion and are willing to acknowledge mistakes made during posting.

But notwithstanding that, Ned agrees with the conclusion of the article. There is no need to be fearful or anything of the Net for there is no doubt that the Net is here to stay. People should not abdicate their personal responsibilty to think for themselves and parents should likewise teach their kids to think critically.

* Singapore Angle has also done an interesting write up on this.



1. Piper - July 26, 2007

“Furthermore the burden cannot always be on bloggers to act like moderates, the people need to learn to think for themselves by comparing the various views on the Net. Perhaps the Dr Cherian’s sentence was predicated on the fact that bloggers are generally ranting lunatics who are out to smear the establishment.”

This phrase of yours made me think of a little incident that happened over at ScienceBlogs where some were upset at the militant nature of Pharyngula when speaking of religion and his daughtermade a very interesting comment:

“It’s moderate atheists’ job to speak nicely to theists and get them to hear the message, but it’s the militant atheists’ job to get the moderates out of the closet and active.”

Similarly, I think in a way we need bloggers who are passionate and maybe “ranting lunatics” to get Singaporeans who are more moderate to actually do or feel something. If all bloggers were careful and moderate, then (a) the blogs won’t be very interesting and (b) no one will be moved to care really.

On a side note, the letters about homosexuality in the ST recently scares me. :S

2. Ned Stark - August 2, 2007

Yeah, and now we have the YPAP guy spouting such stuff. Actually what makes it scarier is that apparently there are those who are in a position of power who actually think the same way.

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