Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why bloggers must disregard cooling off day

When the proposal for a "cooling-off day" was made in late 2009, I posted that my blog will disregard the election regulation.

Parliamentary sittings are now taking place to convey the details of the new regulation, prompting Ng E-Jay's latest TOC editorial, Cooling-off day may lead to heated confusion.

The editorial highlights that countries like Australia, Indonesia and Italy also have one to three days of campaign silence before polling day.

It goes on to explain,

However, the necessity for a cooling-off period in these countries is dictated by their much larger geographical area with the view of accommodating people from rural or inaccessible locations who might need more time to vote. That factor obviously does not apply to Singapore.

Moreover, these countries have a free and independent mainstream press, unlike Singapore.

In Singapore, the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act restrict the publication of newspapers to companies that are licensed by the authorities. With the exception of MediaCorp’s daily freesheet Today, all daily newspapers including the Straits Times are printed by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), whose management shareholders are appointed by the government.

I've mentioned before that in Australia's 3 day "cooling off" period, only TV & radio advertising is not allowed. All other public campaigning continues, newspaper and online advertisements are allowed right through election day without restriction.

And in the countries mentioned above, bloggers like you and me are not prevented by law from posting our thoughts.

What is the Singapore government so paranoid about? I'm sure that even all our combined readership levels can't match a fraction of what the mainstream media has.

It's bad enough that there's so much censorship in Singapore, and that all the media is monopolized by the government. Should we, as bloggers who might be the only available source of independent and alternative news in this country, then practice so much self-censorship on a matter as simple as who we voted for and why?

Are we really going to cause public disorder by blogging about our choice of candidates? After treading into almost all public spaces for expression, the government is now treading into our personal spaces for expression as well.

I'm again urging all Singaporean bloggers to join me in disregarding this ridiculous cooling off day because we have a right to post and share our opinions, political or not, on our personal blogs at any time.

Or maybe the PAP will start giving out "Internet self-discipline awards" like China, to urge us to do otherwise.

12 comments:

Robox said...

Everyone knows that Cooling Off Day is a sham befitting of the Mother of all Scammers, the PAP; the implied rationale is that opposition parties are going to work up a frenzy among the electorate, especially over the foreign workers' policy, which would require a whole day of cooling off after which voters will return to their senses and vote the very rational PAP.

Or perhaps the PAP knows instinctively that what goes around does in fact come around, and it's going to come back and hit them real hard this time.

Notwithstanding the above, what is needed in elections campaigns in Singapore for voters to make a true rational decision is not a cooling off day, but a sunstantially longer campaign period.

With all the information - including new information to the majority of voters who don't get their political information online - that is typically thrown up during a campaign, what voters need is *time*, time to *process* all the information that are receiving and then only make their voting decisions.

Rationally.

But here's the problem for the PAP: to vote rationally is to vote the PAP OUT!

And that's precisely what the PAP is afraid of.

Elections campaigns are for humans, and any campaign that doesn't factor in the human aspect of such an event - that processing information by definition takes time and effort - is a conjob of the nth degree.

Robox said...

Another aspect of Cooling Off Day that I would like to address is the fear expressed that the PAP would use the various public institutions to continue propogandizing to the electorate. It is further feared, fears that are definitely not unwarranted given the PAP's track record in deception, that they would do so under the guise of the positions of the officethat they are appointed to, for example as the Minister of Health.

Should that be the case, I would question the legal technicalities of their actions.

Just prior to elections, the President dissolves Parliament; in our Westminter system, those positions held by the office holders are simultaneously dissolved.

There is no government and country is run by the bureaucracy.

Were the previous office holders to use their titles or act in their capacity as office holders, it would be illegal, would it not?

I think this is worth investigating; it's a matter of law and order.

jacob said...

errr...what cooling-off day. ;)

Robox said...

Re: "I'm again urging all Singaporean bloggers to join me in disregarding this ridiculous cooling off day because we have a right to post and share our opinions, political or not, on our personal blogs at any time."

No one will heed your call. I can guarantee you that.

The compassinate side of me explains that it is a because Singaporeans are a people so severely intimidated by the PAP and its corrupt establishment.

The angry side of me says that that is exactly how these same people you are making this call to intend to keep it.

Seelan Palay said...

That may be true Robox, but I think there might be a few anonymous bloggers that would post something.

And even if its me alone, well, someones got to start and set an example of resistance to unjust laws.

Just like how Dr Chee took it upon himself to speak up at Raffles Place 10 years ago.

Anonymous said...

If I cool some more, I would probably catch a cold. :|

Robox said...

I hope you are right, Seelan. After all, you have more insider knowledge than I do.

But I am also thinking about the legal implications, even if it means that exceptional individuals like yoursef are prepared for arrest for what the corrupt PAP government wishes to deign to be a seizable offence.

I'm going to reserve comment on that until the Bill becomes law.

That's when I will pounce.

Robox said...

In the meantime, Seelan, I hope that we can all start referring to to the PAP's Cooling Off 'Period' as Cooling Off Day instead.

"Period" makes it sound like a substantial length of time in which we can process the electorate has been so generously given to process information; the PAP government doesn't actually intend for this, but only for the obverse.

It's one day: Cooling Off Day!

Steady said...

Perhaps Robox, since you are anonymous, you can start a blog now, publicize it and defy the cooling off ban by posting news and views about during that period.

Robox said...

Sure, I can take that resentment-tainted challenge of yours, Steady, so long as you answer this question: Will the Singapore government that you are dying to see arrest me have any jurisdiction over me if I blog from overseas?

How will that help your personal goal of seeing my arrest and prosecution?

And will you also be like all the other Frightened Monkeys in the opposition and condemn me for an alleged stupidity, just like all of you do with SDP members and associates?

And when change starts to dawn in Singapore as a result of my arrest and prosecution, are you deliberately going to turn the other way and credit the PAP instead for their genorosity in liberalization that cpould result, but not my conviction as a catalyst for that liberalization?

Robox said...

So.

Seelan.

What can you tell me about TTJ - I think you know who I'm talking about?

*sigh*

So handsome.

Seelan Palay said...

Haha Robox, send me an email and we'll discuss that :)