Alex Tan wants us to share news articles to raise fellow citizens’ current affairs awareness

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In a Facebook post yesterday afternoon, former Reform Party candidate and self-exiled Singaporean living in Australia, Alex Tan, wants Singaporeans who want to see change in their country to share news articles, even those from Straits Times and CNA, to ‘grow an interest in current affairs’.

He also urged readers to “ask your friends and family members for their opinions (on these issues) without passing any judgement – and avoid arguments.”

Probably because the Govt is unlikely to block or censor news already published in the mainstream media, or flag them as ‘fake news’ (quite the contrary, they have hailed SPH and MediaCorp News as the ‘provider of truth’), he wants us to “increase the outreach of the government newspapers and propaganda, share their news on Facebook and post a short opinion of what you think in the sharing.” Minister Shamugam has earlier said that the Govt will only go after fake “news”, not “opinions”.

“If you are already sharing my articles on your Facebook page, please share more articles from Straits Times instead,” he urged.

Read his full post here:

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Govt can order Facebook to take down any content, and appoint ‘anyone’ as enforement officer under ‘fake news’ Bill

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It is as if 1984 is reborn in Singapore, when the provisions set out in the PAP’s Bill on “Online Falsehoods and Manipulation” can, for example,

  • Order you to put up a notice—as dictated by the government—saying that a “statement” (be it a Facebook post, blog post, tweet, SMS, MMS, message on WhatsApp/Telegram/Viber, etc.) you communicated is false [Part 3, 11(1)(a)]
  • Order you to put up a correction—as dictated by the government [Part 3, 11(1)(b)]
  • Order you to put a correction on whichever online location they want [Part 3, 11(2)]
  • Order you to place the correction in proximity of the “false statement”, or any other statement that is “substantially similar” [Part 3, 11(3)(a)]
  • Order you to publish the correction notice in a specified way in a particular newspaper or print publication with a presence in Singapore—and make you pay for it [Part 3, 11(3)(b) & 13(6)]
  • Order you to remove your post and/or stop making statements that are “substantially similar” [Part 3, 12(1) & (2)] (compiled by The New Naratif)

But most crucial of all (and underreported by the mainstream media), is their ability to (not before this law):

  • Order social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter (or other services like Google, WhatsApp, or YouTube) to push to their users in Singapore a notice—as dictated by the government—that a statement on their platform is false [Part 4, 21(1)(a)]
  • Order social media platforms to publish a specified correction to all their users in Singapore [Part 4, 21(1)(b)]
  • Order social media platforms to disable access to content [Part 4, 22(1)]
  • Order social media platforms, print publications, broadcasters, websites to issue a notice—as dictated by the government—to all users/in the print publication/audiences [Part 4, 23(1) & (2)] (compiled by The New Naratif)

Also, they would be able to:

  • Appoint a public officer before an election period to act as an “alternate authority”—this authority will be able to exercise powers including issuing Part 3 and Part 4 directions (see above) and declaring online locations [Part 8, 52]
  • Appoint a public officer to be an “alternate authority” during any other period [Part 8, 53]
  • Appoint police officers, public officers or statutory board employees as authorised officers to administer the law, subject to the Minister’s directions [Part 9, 55]
  • Allow authorised officers to exercise powers related to police investigations as specified in the Criminal Procedure Code as set out in the Schedule (even if they aren’t actually police officers, which means they could be untrained and not subject to internal codes of conduct that govern the police force) [Part 9, 56] (compiled by The New Naratif)

And lastly, of course:

  • Exempt anyone they want from this law [Part 9, 61]
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FILE PHOTO: Figurines are seen in front of the Facebook logo in this illustration taken March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

We are reminded that just last year, Facebook refused to remove States Times Review’s facebook post on LHL’s alleged involvement with the Najib 1MDB scandal, even after the said website, States Times Review has been blocked by IMDA.

Economically we prefer China, but politically, China is an authoritarian system: Dr M

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In an interview with South China Morning Post this week, Dr Mahathir of Malaysia who led the first change in government for the last 60 years, said Malaysia now ‘close to China’ as US is kind of ‘unpredictable’ now.

But he did not fail to mention the wariness in aligning too close to China, especially politically, due to the latter’s government system being one that is authoritarian rather than democratic.

Watch the video here:

323,097 foreigners applied for ‘self-exclusion’ from Singapore casinos last year, a jump from 288,917 the year before

The latest figures released by govt agency, National Council on Problem Gambling, have revealed some shocking facts.

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There are so many people in Singapore – foreigners especially – seeking help and requesting ‘self-exclusion’ (names registered with authorities will not be able to enter casinos, just in case these sufferers of gambling addiction can’t keep the urge!)

And while Govt newspaper TNP tries to put up a totally misleading headline saying “More locals seeking help”, the truth is quite the contrary, because there are just far, far more foreigners seeking help for problem gambling, as the numbers clearly show.

 

CNA Thai correspondent: Elections coverage should start months before

If, it is other countries’ elections, that is.

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CNA in its morning programme today featured Thai correspondent Saksith Saiyasombut conversing with CNA programme hosts on ‘the experience of covering the Thai elections’.

He responded: “Covering elections is not just covering the polling day itself, it’s not covering the campaign itself, it actually starts weeks, if not months before that, ever since we know when those dates were..Well.. (albeit the fact that) they have been delayed by the military government repeatedly, but..

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“We have various journalists covering the elections in all aspects.”

And then after that, also asking the correspondent on the ‘haze and smog’ in Thailand.

It would be ironic if anyone doesn’t see the sharp contrast on how CNA does not give elections happening in its own country, Singapore – similar ‘full coverage’ – way before polling day (although, for benefit of doubt, between Nomination Day and Polling Day, there are only 9 days, probably one of the shortest campaign period in the world, not counting Cooling-Off Day, another unique feature in our Singapore elections.)

And while the Thai military government ‘repeatedly delayed’ on elections, Singapore’s equivalent administration keeps elections days a ‘secret’ to be ‘suddenly revealed’ (usually when you are most unprepared) under the absolute discretion of a dubiously-independent Elections Department that comes under the Prime Minister’s Office itself.

Watch the segment here:

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=307078633538491

Pritam quotes 1989 White Paper on religious harmony: Govt must remain neutral to all religious groups

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In a post entitled “Hate Speech, Racial and Religious Harmony”, Mr Pritam Singh, Sec-Gen of the Workers’ Party, revealed that in the coming week, a Ministerial statement titled “Restricting Hate Speech to maintain Racial and Religious Harmony” will be debated in Parliament.

He then goes on to say how the term “hate speech” is actually a “relatively new addition to the public discourse, both locally and internationally.”

He added that there is “no reference to it in the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) (UN: 1965), a convention Singapore ratified in 2017.”

“The ambit of hate speech extends beyond the racial and religious. It can be directed – not only against racial or religious individuals and groups but persons or a groups on the basis of attributes such as ethnic origin, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

“Minister of Law, Mr K Shanmugam in comments to the media recently spoke about the upcoming debate as a platform for a new generation of Singaporeans to consider where they stand on issues of race, religion and hate speech, and where lines should be drawn.”

He then goes on to say that in late 1989, a “White Paper on the Maintenance of Religious Harmony (hyperlinked to this post) was tabled in Parliament” which he calls on Singaporeans to “please read it and consider the impact of new circumstances on our generation – terrorism, radicalization, social media, immigration, culture wars, amongst many others,” and how Singapore society should “deal with issues that ferment outright violence or create significant insecurity amongst communities here.”

He called upon readers to “share your thoughts and comments and I will try my best to accommodate your views in my speech which will seek to promote a reasoned centre where all of us focus on reducing temperatures and encouraging conversations with one another, amongst other points.”

This was what he quoted from the White Paper:

“Racial and Religious Harmony

Singaporeans belong to different races, languages and religions. All the great religions in the world are represented in Singapore – Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and many denominations of Christianity. In such a context, religious and racial harmony are not just desirable ideals to be achieved, but essential conditions for our survival as one nation.

The Singapore state can only accommodate such totally different spiritual and moral beliefs among the population without being torn apart if it observes several stringent conditions. It must be a strictly secular state. The Government must claim ultimate political authority from the Constitution, and not from any divine or ecclesiastical sanction. A cardinal principle of Government policy must be the maintenance of religious harmony. The Government should not be antagonistic to the religious beliefs of the population, but must remain neutral in its relations with the different religious groups, not favouring any of them in preference to the others. Its duty is to ensure that every citizen is free to choose his own religion, and that no citizen, in exercising his religious or other rights, infringes upon the rights and sensitivities of other citizens.” White Paper (para 4-5)”

He also attributed it to this link of the Paper:

White Paper on the Maintenance of Religious Harmony – https://thir.st/wp-content/uploads/…/04/MRHA-white-paper.pdf

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