* Featured on The Real SG and TR Emeritus.
Thoughts On Being A Socio-Political Blogger
My name is Jess and I’m 27. I was born in Singapore and spent the first two decades of my life there. I am a U.S. citizen as of 2012.
As a teenager in Singapore, I was politically indifferent and apathetic. I had a keen interest in history, but not even a passing interest in politics.
This was due to a pervasive climate of fear, caused by the PAP government’s history of undermining the independence of the press and judiciary, and silencing dissent.
I grew up with the impression that it was literally dangerous to have — let alone express in public — any critical political views.
This limitation on the freedom of expression led to a feeling of disempowerment, where I had little hope for any changes in a positive direction for the society I was part of.
2. Freedom of Expression
Milana Knezevic, a journalist working at Index on Censorship, explains the value of freedom of expression:
Why is access to freedom of expression important? Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. It also underpins most other rights and allows them to flourish. The right to speak your mind freely on important issues in society, access information and hold the powers that be to account, plays a vital role in the healthy development process of any society.
Index on Censorship adds:
Free speech creates the space for the exchange of ideas in the arts, literature, religion, academia, politics and science, and is essential for other rights such as freedom of conscience and freedom of assembly. Without this, individuals can’t make informed decisions and fully participate in society.
Freedom of expression can be abused when people take it to the extreme, to voice their opinion recklessly and irresponsibly. But this alone does not justify the opposite extreme where freedom of expression is suppressed.
It is “freedom of expression” that made me more informed about socio-political issues in a broader context.
3. Government Accountability
All government propaganda works the same way — by spreading information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, that promotes a particular political cause or point of view.
The biggest danger with biased reporting is the distortion of facts.
A Nation article published in 2014 provides an example of distortion via media misrepresentation — through a critical analysis of how mainstream press coverage has become less objective and less balanced over time.
Dr. Michael S. Rozeff adds that “a government shouldn’t cover up crimes and shouldn’t conceal [wrongful] exercises of power.”
Accountability ensures actions taken by a country’s public officials are subject to review, so that government initiatives meet their objectives and respond to the needs of the community.
4. Alternative vs. Mainstream Media
People are increasingly placing more trust in alternative media than in the scripted mainstream media.
Singaporeans are also beginning to turn more and more to the Internet for news and information, after decades of the PAP government having a dominant voice in Singapore’s mainstream media.
As former ISD director, Mr. Yoong Siew Wah, aptly summarizes:
“What the mainstream media, especially The Straits Times, dishes out to the public is what the government wants the public to read.”
(Singapore Recalcitrant, 2 May 2010)
5. Role of the Internet
The following paragraphs by Michael T. Snyder illustrate the role of the Internet:
“The Internet gives us an opportunity to impact the world that is unlike anything previous generations have ever had. Those in power have begun to recognize how powerful the Internet is, and so they have begun to crack down on it.
It is also important to keep in mind that the Internet allows us to watch them as well. The Internet is an incredible tool for exposing evil and corruption, and over the past decade we have seen many instances when average people on the Internet have broken major news stories that the mainstream media would not dare touch initially.
In the final analysis, the ability to wake people up and to literally change the world outweighs the risks of being watched. Don’t be afraid to stand up for the truth. It is better to do what is right and to be persecuted for it than to stand aside and do nothing.”
(10 Reasons Why)
6. Responsible Activism
Activism is defined as the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.
Tony Cartalucci writes that “the true power of the people comes [from] getting organized and getting active. . .not just [making demands of] the communities and nations we want to live in, but to cultivate the skills and institutions required to build them ourselves.”
@StopImperialism, an independent media outlet, is “anti-war, anti-imperialism, anti-oligarchy [and] pro-peace, pro-progress, pro-economic development.”
Informed Activism is not the same thing as Terrorism (the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims), or Anarchism (a belief that government and laws are completely unnecessary).
I started developing a keen interest in Singapore’s political history in 2014.
I continue having a big interest because it is my birth country, and because it is an ideal case study to observe socio-political forces. That these forces are contained in a concentrated manner in a geographically small country makes it easier to study, and to recognize “patterns” on a global scale.
That was how my own political interest and awareness began — with small steps.
With political apathy, the situation is vastly different, because it encourages a person to just “switch off,” not bother, and leave it to a few people to enact the changes, both locally and globally.
It’s in everyone’s interest to be educated politically and socially. After all, we’re already global citizens.
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About Freedom of Expression (by Index on Censorship)
Becoming a Global Citizen (by Global Citizens Initiative)
Distorting Russia (by The Nation, on distortion via media misrepresentation)
“Global Citizen” Graphic (by Shushant)