Bloggers must register with government.
That's a worrying headline but nil desperandum
Indonesian bloggers, it doesn't apply here.
But it does in Singapore
, at least during elections.The Singaporean government yesterday reiterated that citizens who post political commentary on the web during the country's upcoming general election can face prosecution.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whose ruling People's Action Party has dominated politics in Singapore since its independence in 1965, is expected to call elections in the coming months.
The broadcasting of political issues by political parties or individuals via web technologies such as podcasting and videocasting will be governed under Singapore's election advertising regulations established in 2001 during the last polls.
The rules extend to bloggers who are permitted to discuss politics but will have to register their websites if they repeatedly maintain political views, said Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Singapore's senior minister of state for information, communications and the arts, during a parliament sitting.
He also said that any Singaporean who uses the internet to "persistently propagate, promote or circulate political issues" about the island-state during the election period would be running afoul of the law.
Under the current regulatory regime, political websites have to register with the Media Development Authority (MDA), which also administers the Parliamentary Elections Act, the Class Licence Scheme and Internet Code of Practice.
Singapore is a small island state which is vastly different from the world's third largest democracy, Indonesia, but not so different from China
, the world's largest so-called communist nation. Singapore is a faux
democracy; whoever you vote for the People's Action Party forms the government.
But what could we do if SBY decides to clamp down on our thoughts and opinions?
First, log onto the Committee to Protect Bloggers
and download their Anonymous Blogging Guide
and, where practical, try to follow the advice given.Across the globe, countries that discourage free speech have followed their citizens into the blogosphere. According to one count, in the last two years at least 30 bloggers (and there are no doubt more) have been interrogated, arrested, tortured and sentenced to long prison terms for the "crime" of speaking critically about their governments. Regardless of your culture, your country, your politics or religion, we believe you deserve to speak your mind without falling afoul of state power.
Unfortunately, what you deserve and what you get are not always the same thing. So, for those of you who wish to speak out on your blogs, but who do not wish to risk imprisonment or worse for doing so, we have prepared guides that will help you to blog more safely by blogging more anonymously.
The guide I've linked to is geared towards Malaysia because Malaysia is one ... country in which bloggers have thriven
(sic), one source counting 20,000 Malaysian blogs. Part of blogging's popularity may be the advanced technical state of the country. Part of it may be the synergy between Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, all countries with relatively thriving blogging scenes.
Well, it's nice to know that folk think that the Indonesian blogosphere has 'thriven', but the country is certainly not in an advanced technical state
and is there really much synergy between our blogging communities? I think not.
However, it is worth noting that Indonesian blogger, Herman Saksono
was investigated by the Yogya police earlier this year for photoshopping a picture of SBY, a picture I posted on January 9th. To my knowledge, so far that's been the only problem faced by bloggers here, but it does demonstrate that the state has the power to clamp down on us. Should we therefore hope that our voices don't become too prominent?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation
has published a Legal Guide for Bloggers
. Essentially geared towards the needs of Stateside bloggers, they argue that bloggers have a right to political speech and to write anonymously. But that's there.
Here, Jakartass extends his sympathy to those Singaporean bloggers fearful of saying what they want to. If you think that what you have to say needs saying and could be said from outside the country, email me
If push comes to shove, an alternative could be to Adopt-a-Blog, which is advocated by the Asia Pundit
, who has already posted on this issue
. He also has an extensive blogroll of the Asian blogosphere - inc. Jakartass (thanks, Chris).