April 2024
AIIB ASEAN ASEAN (R) ASEAN-ISIS Asia Big Tech CH: Hong Kong Country (R): Indonesia Country (R): Malaysia Country (R): Myanmar Country (R): Singapore Country: ASEAN Country: Australia Country: Cambodia Country: China Country: Germany Country: India Country: Indonesia Country: Japan Country: Laos Country: Malaysia Country: Myanmar Country: North Korea Country: Philippines Country: Qatar Country: Russia Country: Singapore Country: South Korea Country: Taiwan Country: Thailand Country: UK Country: United States Country: US Country: USA Country: Vietnam covid-19 DE: 5G DE: Data privacy DE: Data security DE: Facebook Digitalisation Elections: Indonesia 2019 Elections: Thailand 2019 ESG: Climate Change ESG: Diversity ESG: Energy ESG: Green Finance ESG: Green Growth ESG: Haze ESG: Human Rights ESG: Modern Slavery ESG: Peatland ESG: Riau ESG: Smallholders ESG: Sustainability ESG: Sustainable/Green Infrastructure European Union Event: SDSWR Events: AAF Fukushima Global Citizens Singapore Indonesia: Jokowi Institute: ERIA Institute: SIIA JP: Abenomics Leaders: Kim Jong Un Leaders: Lee Hsien Loong Megatrends: Populism MM: Aung San Suu Kyi MM: NLD MM: Rakhine State MY: Anwar Ibrahim MY: GE14 MY: Mahathir Mohamad MY: Najib Razak New Horizons New Zealand Nicholas Fang Oh Ei Sun Recovery Region: European Union Region: Latin America Region: Middle East Reports Security: South China Sea Security: Terrorism SG: Lee Kuan Yew SG: SG Secure SG: Smart Nation SG: Society Simon Tay Sustainable infrastructure Topic (R): Belt and Road Topic (R): Business Topic (R): Digitisation Topic (R): Economy Topic (R): Green Finance Topic (R): Haze Topic (R): Infrastructure Topic (R): Palm Oil Topic (R): Peatland Topic (R): Smallholders Topic (R): Sustainability Topic: Anti-Globalisation Topic: Belt and Road Topic: Business Topic: Coronavirus Topic: COVID-19 Topic: Deforestation Topic: Development Topic: Digital Economy Topic: Digitisation Topic: E-Commerce Topic: Economics Topic: Economy Topic: Elections Topic: Environment Topic: ESG Topic: Finance Topic: Global Citizens Topic: Globalisation Topic: Human Trafficking Topic: Indo-Pacific Topic: Infrastructure Topic: Investment Topic: Labour Topic: Nuclear Topic: Palm Oil Topic: Race Topic: Regional Integration Topic: Religion Topic: Security Topic: Singapore-Malaysia Relations Topic: Small States Topic: Trade Trade: AEC Trade: CPTPP Trade: FTA Trade: Multilateralism Trade: RCEP Trade: TPP Trade: War Trends (Digital): Cybersecurity UK: Brexit United States US: Obama US: Trump US: Trump WEF youth

Dialogue on media freedom, OB markers

26 Sep Dialogue on media freedom, OB markers

MEDIA freedom and out-of-bound markers were issues raised last night at a dialogue on Singapore’s future as the country turns 50 next year.

The dialogue, organised by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) and attended by about 20 of its members, was on the sort of society Singapore could become, and addressed issues such as culture and freedom of speech.

Panellists Chua Beng Huat, a sociologist at the National University of Singapore, and Ms Braema Mathi, president of human rights group Maruah, shared their views on whether media controls should be loosened in the years to come.

“It is becoming an open world, but also a narrower world,” said Ms Mathi, pointing out how people are likely to follow, on Facebook, friends and communities that echo their interests.

“The role of the mainstream media becomes even more important – and this is where freedom of expression becomes crucial. The media has to take on a big moderating influence.”

That, she said, calls for more diversity so people can “weigh out the different media” and decide which newspapers to follow. But that will only be possible if the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act is amended, she argued.

The Act gives the Government the authority to grant licences to newspaper publishing firms, which must be renewed annually.

Professor Chua, however, said the mainstream media’s influence has waned, and he questioned whether media regulations remain a concern: “Media freedom is now a silly issue because of the Internet. The mainstream media is now chasing the Internet.”

Newspapers, for instance, will have to step up their game, he said, adding that they risk becoming “largely irrelevant” unless they keep track of and report on issues gaining attention online.

During the question and answer session, lawyer Nizam Ismail – an SIIA council member – asked whether OB markers will remain relevant in the future.

Prof Chua said: “I don’t think there’s any society without censorship, and I think OB markers are really flexible things.”

Ten years ago, he noted, homosexuality was taboo. Now, the Pink Dot picnic takes place each year. But some topics that may potentially flare up – like religion – need to be kept in check, he said.

Ms Mathi agreed. In her view, religion will, in the coming years, be the region’s biggest challenge.

She cited Brunei, “a quiet little Islamic state”, which this year became the first South-east Asian country to officially impose syariah law, and asked how that would affect Singapore and its Muslim- majority neighbours.

She also took issue with the way people are classified by race under the Chinese-Malay-Indian- Other framework, saying it boxed people up and could open the way to discrimination.

But Prof Chua said the system has taken an unnecessary beating – and is not the reason for discrimination or an obstacle to diversity.
This article was originally published in the Home section of The Straits Times on 24 SEP 2014. Clickhere for the online version. It was also syndicated on AsiaOne on 26 SEP 2014.