Is censorship still relevant in Singapore?
Consisting of multitudes of themes and topics, GP is no easy subject to learn. Therefore, we provide free articles to help you and your friends to explore different topics at different time periods. This month’s issue will cover the relevance of censorship in our Singapore land.
Censorship is defined as the suppression or prohibition of information and ideas that are considered politically unacceptable. In Singapore, information is regulated by the Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA) to omit sensitive information within our multi-racial and multicultural society. As such, this article will give light to the relevance of censorship and its need in the current society of Singapore.
Proponents of censorship would argue that censorship is still relevant in Singapore given the societal detriments in the current social media world. With culture of ease of usage and wide accessibility, social media has provided, unknowingly, a platform for ill-intent groups to do harm to the society. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer creation of online accounts to anyone, opening up opportunities for dissidents to spread distorted messages to the masses and henceforth, negatively influencing naive readers. In a sizeable muslim population of Singapore, tweets and facebook posts by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have sought to propagandise and recruit Singaporeans. Censorship is hence necessary to identify and disable these accounts so as to prevent the spread of ISIS propaganda. As these propaganda acts increase, there is more relevancy in imposing censorship in Singapore.
Additionally, censorship in Singapore is aimed at upholding the social fabric, many a time disrupted by local actors. In such a racially diverse state like Singapore, racial slurs and slanders weigh heavily in divisive forces. Simple cases can easily lead to misunderstanding amongst races, threatening to tear the present social adhesive. To combat this, Singapore censorship stems down on disruptive messages and publicise such cases so that the public is aware of the problems and is shielded from its harmful effects. In 2015, the couple behind socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS) – Yang Kaiheng and Ai Takagi – were each charged with seven counts of sedition for promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between different groups of people. In a separate case, Amos Yee was charged for making offensive or wounding remarks against Christianity and for circulating obscene imagery. These cases show how serious Singapore is in protecting its painstaking social harmony and will prevent anyone from attempting to divide the four races in the nation. Therefore, in a culturally and racially diversified state, censorship holds great relevance in order to uphold the social
With a small and fractious state like Singapore, it is prudent to place censorship shield Singaporeans from the harms of the outside world and prevent internal disruptions from happening. Nonetheless, it is myopic to merely view censorship in the positive light as Singapore strives to be an open economy – one that emcompasses freedom of speech as well. These issues will, hence, be opened up and discussed in other articles.