“Contempt of court”, so the charges read. But everyone knows there is more than meets the eye when we go through the great satirist’s work at Demon-cratic Singapore [Source]. Every single post embarrasses the PAP government with inconvenient truth. Leslie Chew has hit the PAP where they hurt most – and the best part – he is doing it everyday! A lawyer’s letter from whichever corner of the giant PAP mechanism is expected, and Leslie himself is prepared for it: every episode of Demon-cratic Singapore has a disclaimer stating the series is fictitious and anybody relating themselves to such ridicule has only their insecurity to blame.
Unfortunately for Leslie, he couldn’t get away with the disclaimer. Other bloggers like Lucky Tan, Molly Meek and the team of writers from The Real Singapore, are no milder than Leslie. They have been consistently writing critical pieces of articles that tear down every piece of propaganda that PAP has been churning. But unlike Leslie, they have stayed anonymous throughout. Nobody knows who they are because there isn’t a need to. If Leslie Chew had stayed anonymous, he could have done away with the pesky disclaimer space and freed himself from holding back in his productions out of fear of prosecutions.
Writers are basically common folks living among ourselves relating their perceptions to a mass. So when any of them contemplates a writing hobby, more of them are going to consider crafting out an anonymous persona to ensure whatever they write online is not going to impact their real lives. And under the cloak of anonymity, writers are embolden to produce whatever their mind brings them. Accusations and revelations of corruption and nepotism will achieve the similar impact of the PAP Ministers flustering mad but without the letter of demands from their lawyers. It is like throwing a stone from the dark – a perfectly logical move given the disproportionately amount of firepower the PAP welds compared to that rock you have. Leslie wouldn’t have ended up having Goliath crushing down on him then. The exercise of “contempt of court” is pretty much like section 377a – a law left over by the British Colonial legal system which criminalizes homosexuals. The government should not be actively seeking out people to sue under the section, even though it is supportive of the law in principle. In Leslie’s case, his work is good taste that leave people smiling unlike that of xiaxue. Leslie Chew should instead be awarded the National Day Award for his in-depth humor and apt insight in Singapore’s current affairs. And having him going full time and living off donations reflects how great this Singaporean son is in his resolution to move the country forward. In fact, the PAP would be better off engaging Leslie Chew alone than meeting up with grassroots leaders in their pretentious Our Singapore Conversation sessions.
During Lee Kuan Yew’s times, his rule of engagement is Singaporeans either do not interfere with politics or face consequences. Under Lee Hsien Loong, he explicitly said that he hopes to see more Singaporeans speak up but implicitly, he is saying he wants more Singaporeans to speak only things he wants to hear. The rate of lawsuits and lawyers’ of demands letters issued under Lee Hsien Loong’s administration in 13 years is no less than those issued during his father’s 25 years reign. Interestingly, people are claiming Lee Hsien Loong is opening up Singapore with the number of million dollar projects and foreigners he is bringing in. The truth is the present PAP administration is no different from the past when it comes to dealing with criticisms.
Anonymity is the only shield that is effective with the PAP. The Real Singapore has previously snubbed letters of demands from ministers like Minister Shanmugam, MP Zaqy, MP Irene Ng and several other PAP Ministers and MPs. If not for its anonymity, The Real Singapore would have seen its editor busy apologizing and spending time having coffee sessions in Tanglin Police Headquarters. Being anonymous has also not affected TRS’s readership as well, in fact it is the fastest growing current affairs site that exceeded the likes of TOC and TRE. Also, given how TRS values anonymity, whistleblowers and occasional writers with sensitive identities are more than happy to submit their work to reach a substantial reader base.
More anonymous writers will keep a power-hungry government busier because they will be fixated with coming up with New Media Regulations and denouncing how unreliable the online media is, than thinking and implementing solutions to help Singaporeans. More diverse views with more powerful messages are going to influence and outreach to more Singaporeans and further dampen the PAP’s image. It is going to take more than a White Paper or some PAP-approved specialists and experts to deliver an effective propaganda message. The mainstream media will lose credibility further given that it is going to work harder than ever in giving Singaporeans the “right” thing to read.