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I am Singaporean XI – Objectivity and Self-Regulation February 6, 2009

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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In the aftermath of someone burning someone else in Singapore, a certain Rear-Admiral has showed his dismay at the “lack of self-regulation” in the blogosphere.  How tragic.  His worldview of things in Singapore, namely that everything functions like clockwork and that dissension is put down by a lightning bolt must be shattered.  Indeed, he felt that the blogosphere did too little to rebut some of the flaming which took place.

So what is self-regulation?  While i do not condone the flaming attack, i too did not do “my part” in refuting the barrage of comments supporting Ong Kah Chua.  And why did i not do it?  Because there is no point in refuting people who are expressing their feelings.  What’s more, is not the glowing adoration of the victim in the State’s Times enough?  It is true that Seng Han Thong’s plight is a pitiable one.  But if you will read what some of the residents of his constituency said, you will also realise that there is not much sympathy for him.  Why are all the top-level personnel visiting him and hardly anyone from his own constituency?  Faced with such evidence, with what would you expect someone who wishes to refute them to actually refute them?

What the RADM wants to have is objectivity in the Internet, self-regulation, accountability and balance.

On Objectivity.  This criterion is one of the most problematic.  It’s no secret that the PAP controls the press indirectly and has consolidated its power by systematically keeping the Opposition weak.  Naturally, they, being the powers that be, have the right to declare what they subjectively see as a party to be what objectively is the case.  But is it?  Objectivity, in our Rear-Admiral’s definition, means objectivity perhaps the way the State’s Times publishes its news.  Well-researched.  Accountable.  But again, with the caveat: it is indirectly politically-controlled.

Indeed, doesn’t objectivity come from having both pro and contra?  Objectivity means literally from the ‘viewpoint of the object as it is’ – just because you have power doesn’t mean that your view is objective.  Objectivity comes from pluralism.  (Or at least, it’s a way of minimising subjectivity.)  It has always been easy to see the Internet as a dangerous place, because people there are oh-so-hostile.  But now that there are well-written, logical pieces (i refer you here and here) speaking against or asking for reflection on the side of the powers that be, is not a form of objectivity being produced?  Objectivity in the PAP sense is not pure objectivity.

On self-regulation.  In what sense of the word do we want self-regulation?  Are we supposed to rebut every comment extolling Ong Kah Chua because of the lack of objectivity and the fact that what he did was deplorable?  As a blogger, we can argue, but we cannot convince one to change his beliefs.  This isn’t the State’s Times, where letters are rejected.  Indeed, when it comes to accountability, the online news sites are a lot more accountable than the MSM.  People ask why their comments were removed.  Can you ask the State’s Times why your letter wasn’t featured?

Everyone has a right to saying what he wants on the net.  Self-regulation à la the Rear-Admiral would make the Net like the State’s Times.  If our RADM wants self-regulation, he could start with Stomp, where anything and everything is put up.  If he looked at Stomp, actually, he probably would marvel at how different the Net is compared to what the MSM tried to make the Net into – a lawless place where anything and everything can be said.  It is true that you can’t say anything you want on the Net.  But you can surely say a damn lot of stuff.  But do we sensationalise couples we interpret to be making out on buses, like Stomp does, and then getting them into a lot of trouble?  The Net has self-regulation, just not the way our RADM would prefer it, which is MSM-esque.

Part II follows!

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