The report in The New Paper (TNP) about the Temasek Review and Dr Joseph Ong Chor Teck is an attempt to curtail the growing influence of the popular website and to curb growing dissent on the Internet.
Temasek Revew, or TR, has been gaining traction among netizens who find the website a channel for them to bring up issues and discussions that would otherwise not see print or broadcast in the state controlled media. The portal has in the recent past become a centre for breaking news in the socio-political sphere to the extent that the mass media has been forced to cover sensitive stories.
It also carries analyses and opinion pieces of writers who remain largely anonymous. This anonymity allows a wide range of articles to be published which are crtitical of the ruling regime, often focusing on matters that are embarrassing for members of the PAP and the cabinet.
The Goverment is beginning to feel the heat of the growing discontent of Singaporeans who are turning to the Internet for news and bypassing the traditional media. The coming general elections will see more Singapreans turn to cyberspace for the “other side” of the story.
The newspaper also revealed that Dr Ong has been questioned by the police for posting up unflattering flyers of PAP MP Lee Bee Wah who had attracted much scorn from the Internet community for her involvement and remarks over the Singapore Table-Tennis Association saga a few months ago. TR says that Dr Ong is not part of its editorial team.
The Internet is the latest and boldest frontier which Singaporeans are using to resist the authoritarian control of the PAP. The ruling clique is trying to contain the growing influence of e-samizdat. The police questioning of Dr Ong and the information leak is a disturbing development.
Given the nature of the beast the PAP will not succeed in stopping discussion of issues on the Internet. The hydra-like qualities of the technology, coupled with the increasing frustration of Singaporeans in wanting to see a transaparent and accountable government, will see more pro-democracy portals set up. For every TR that closes down, ten more will emerge.
In this day and age where free speech is crucial to progress, suppression of free and open debate in cyberspace must be resisted.
The Singapore Democrats call on the authorities to leave Dr Ong and TR alone regardless of whether they are related.