Monday, September 12, 2005

SHATTERING THE ILLUSION -- No Cheeky White Elephants

I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.

The news is out. Two bloggers charged under the Sedition Act for racist remarks. My entry will not be to debate about racism on the Net versus freedom of expression. That is simplistic argument based on simplistic understandings and applications of both concepts of racism and freedom of expression.
The crucial point, which I hope, legal researchers/experts out there with the local resources can do, is to study when the last time the Sedition Act was used in Singapore and in what context. This piece of research will be most illuminating in understanding the ramifications of this latest piece of brute force cyber-tactics by the Government.
There is a softer regulating mechanism to enact against the bloggers. The infamous SBA and now MDA content regulations guidelines policy, which was based on some paragraphs of the Sedition Act, was not used. Instead, the Full Force of the Law was applied. This is a signal. An indication of intent. No cheeky white elephants.

I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.
Let me move my entry to a more positive note. Hopefully, a quick echo before the Silence, both enforced and conditioned, settles in blogosphere.
The assumption that surveillance of the Internet by the Government machinery is benign and based on a slap-in-the-hand policy is thankfully fully shattered. For fellow bloggers, it is important to awaken to this reality and uphold your spirit.
This is politics at work. The choice of political weapon used in this case is calibrated and deliberate. There are no grounds, in the Singapore socio-political context, to defend oneself against stirring racial disharmony when the State arrays such charges onto you. Remember Tang Liang Hong? Racial and religious harmony is one of the enshrined foundations of Singapore. The Government System is on a sure-winner case.
If a sure-winner, why then use the Sedition Act? An archaic Act. A clumsy Act. The target is at the medium of the cyberspace. Nothing more. Nothing less. Sedition in the slipstream of cyber-reality, where you wish the power of the word on the screen translates to Hope but makes you Pensive instead.
The Rally Speech promised Change. Change equally applied to both ends of the political use of State power.
To my fellow guerilla bloggers. The Un-Named ones. To be silenced is to capitulate. Refuse this. Create a 'ruptural unity'.
I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.
Quote of the Day : "Just as at the dawn of Human History the first stammerings of the Oriental Spirit ?joyous captive of the giants of the sky, the sea and the desert, and then of its own stone bestiary ?already betrayed the unconscious presage of the future achievements of the Absolute Spirit, so in each instant of Time the past survives in the form of a memory of what it has been; that is, as the whispered promise of its present. That is why the past is never opaque on an obstacle. -- Louis Althusser, Contradiction & Over-Determination (1962)

11 Comments:

Blogger Huichieh said...

Trackback: "From a Singapore Angle"

11:50 AM  
Blogger The Legal Janitor said...

I think you needn't worry about any targetting of the medium.

Those two guys advocated ethnic cleansing of Malays on their blogs. Even for a hardcore supporter of free-speech like me, that is going too far.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Elia Diodati said...

Trackback: e pur si muove, Bloggers Charged Under Sedition Act

2:15 PM  
Blogger - said...

Track bacK: http://singaporeclassics.blogspot.com/

8:43 PM  
Blogger xenoboysg said...

Hi Shianux,

Oh thanks, I am never worried. I agree with you, hate speech is hate speech, no need to argue about content specifics. Though this case is not the 2nd and 3rd Holocaust blogs, I saw the offending blog entry by Phoenyx and it was clearly hate speech, though not seditious.

As I see it, there are different types of weapons, whether Law or regulations, which can be used against the accused. That Sedition is chosen (with its accompanying signature) is the surprise. I am sure the AGC would have researched and advised on the potential PR fall-out of using the SA. They cannot be stupid as they're the creme de la creme of lawyers after all.

But still the SA was chosen. There is a clear message. It is up to us, as Netizens, to interpret this message.

5:23 AM  
Blogger Agagooga said...

The gahmen is not a cohesive, monolithic entity. Not everything takes place with the knowledge and consent of everyone in the cabinet.

Just something to consider.

6:40 AM  
Blogger xenoboysg said...

Agagooga,

I fully agree. There could have been recommendations of action.

But Sedition was chosen. Its up to you, me to interpret the message. I left an MCQ question at Elia Dodati's. Perhaps, its all the messages, perhaps its one.

9:21 AM  
Blogger 7-8 said...

Hmmm... it seems that I've been asking the same qns as you (check out my last blog entry if you want). I'm just curious, in case anybody knows the answer to this: outside of the Tang Liang Hong case, and this recent Sedition Act case, have there been any other cases where people have been charged for racism?

11:28 AM  
Blogger The Void Deck said...

Trackback: The Void Deck

2:00 AM  
Blogger Edan Bernardino said...

Sorry, I'm unclear. You said :"But still the SA was chosen. There is a clear message."

What exactly is the clear message you refer to?

5:18 AM  
Blogger xenoboysg said...

Hi Edan,

I am inclined to believe that the choice of SA is as much symbolic as it is effective. The signature of a charge under Sedition had to be endorsed.

I do not, for example, believe that the politicians or senior Government officials in charge of Singapore's tourism, public image, info-comm hub (MICA?)and even economy did not suggest that this case under Sedition could have an adverse intangible PR effect on Sg. As Agagooga said, it cannot be a monolithic process. These people cannot be so dumb.

But still the signature is endorsed, probably at higher levels.

And to me, the signature refers explicitly as a clear warning that in cyberspace, the Government can get you too if you cross a OB marker. In this case, because it is racism, it makes this message much more palatable. (c/f Catherine Lim and her Ministerial salary affair)

7:19 AM  

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