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.