28 May, 2013

Dear Singapore, sometimes it's okay to be a little bad***

Dear Singapore,

I was reading my Twitter timeline and I found our dearest MDA a trending topic. Apparently you've decided that new measures are necessary to keep online media in line with Singapore principles, and some people are questioning the scheme.

Singapore is well-known as a country with many rules, and quite frankly, I'm grateful for the most part of it, as it makes us a safe and secure country. But here's something I wish you'd realise - how do you discipline a child that is 48 years of age? Do you stick to the way you do when she's 10 years old?

My point is, sometimes it's okay for us to be a little bad***.

At 48 years of age, many Singaporeans can tell the difference between "credible news sources" and  "just some random website". My friends at the age of 20 can tell that "woah, that's so cool, but Straits Times never report leh, maybe not true". As you can see from LKY rumour last year, people aren't convinced no matter how many reports they read, until they see it proven for themselves.

Many websites worked hard in their own ways to gain trust, and the way to do it isn't something you should interfere and force your formula on. Maybe that would work 10 or 20 years ago, but that's not the case in this day and age.

People have a general idea what they should believe. I believe this point has been proven well enough during the last election. And you know what?

I think rules and boundaries are what made Singapore successful today, but I think it can also become a reason for our downfall.

I am grateful that we don't have unethical paparazzi constantly coming up with fictitious stories poisoning the entertainment industry. I am grateful that we don't allow extremists poisoning the hearts of people with ideas that may threaten our own people. But I am afraid, that too many rules can kill the Singapore spirit.

Sometimes you have to accept that we have to give this 48-year-old nation some breathing space.

You've put an end to roadside stalls, but with it you destroyed the food and local culture. Even after much effort to "recreate" what's lost at Singapore Flyer, we all know it'd just "never be the same again".

There are many things you can put a price tag on. Sometimes what we need isn't money from you, but respect and support. The same goes for encouraging child birth, the media industry and even, the election. What we need is your belief that with your general principles, we can make the right decisions for ourselves.

There are many things you can put a price tag on, but Singapore spirit isn't one of them.

With the new scheme, it isn't necessarily true that people would have more trust in the sources. Instead, we dread scoring even lower on nation's freedom of speech ranking. Isn't it Singapore's aim to always strive for better rankings?

There are many things you can take away from our lives, and plant back in, artificially, as and when you feel that "time is right". But what you can't recreate, is our feelings, the value of the various cultures and what connects us all. Because the truth is, by then the "time has past".

I've personally created an online magazine to promote local and Chinese content, and I asked myself, what if your scheme applied to me? Where am I suppose to find that kind of money for your scheme? Would it be the last, or is it just the beginning of more rules to come?

Do you know what's the charm of online media?

Every online media aims to deliver content in their own unique perspectives, the internet respects our differences and the people embraces the diversity.

If all media sources fit into the mold, we may just as well have just ONE news source for the country.

That made me think... this just isn't the democratic country I believe. Because we don't have the power to create what we believe. I think The Noose is one good example of stepping on boundaries but expanding our horizons. It teaches us some truth while injecting some humor, and we finish the show with heightened senses of awareness and judgment.

I love this country, but sometimes... I wish you'd let us get into some small troubles.

I wouldn't mind a little food poisoning from entrepreneur bakers or roadside stalls. I wouldn't mind getting a little confused with news sources, because I know where to look for verified information. I certainly wouldn't mind a little surprise when a flashmob is truly an unexpected flashmob. I would even love a little controversy when some local news sources come up with atrocious content every now and then.

My point is... You've made your point about the Singapore style of rules and boundaries in the past 47 years. Could you give us a little space to be a little different, and give us some support (not money) to blossom into shining and unique websites, companies and Somebody?

We're the kites your laws and schemes fly, but it feels like for every inch of thread you loosen for us, you give us a big tug to pull us backwards.

Every child, just like every media and news source, is different. As long as the news sources aren't extremists, please support all their differences and give us the space a 48-year-old deserves.

I love this country too much to believe that democracy is a thing of the past.