"to rescue truth from beauty and meaning from belief"

The Internet : Leaders Lead. Losers Lament.


The Internet vis-a-vis Their Citizens
In an interview with The Australian (21 Aug), a day after US reporter James Foley’s beheading video appeared, President Yudhoyono admitted “Our citizens here in Indonesia are picking up recruitment messages from ISIS containing extremist ideas”. He “called on all Indonesians to reject ISIS and to stop the spread of its radical ideology. My government and security agencies have taken decisive steps to curtail the spread of ISIS in Indonesia, including by prohibiting Indonesians to join ISIS or to fight for ISIS, and also by blocking Internet sites that promote this idea.” <http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/indonesia-president-says/1322874.html>    


Whilst Singaporeans may argue the merits or otherwise of ‘blocking Internet sites’, it is interesting to compare the actions of PM Lee and his ministers on similar matters of ‘ideas’ that do not sit easily with them.

Last April, Singaporeans rose to strongly object the planned Philippines Independent Day celebrations highlighting “two nations” and “interdependence” in posters for the event that appeared to compromise Singapore’s sovereignty. Mistakenly or not, citizens were acting spontaneously from a sense of patriotism.

Minister Tan Chuan-Jin rewarded them by swiftly condemning those citizens as ‘bigots’. PM Lee chimed in, calling their patriotic outbursts ‘a disgrace to Singapore’.

A year earlier, Minister Ibrahim Yaacob said on BBC News, “it is important for us to ensure that they [ordinary Singaporeans] read the RIGHT thing…” after announcing rules to curb the free flow views of Singaporeans on the Internet.


Whilst we can disagree on the need to block websites, we can surely agree the case with Singapore is nothing of the ISIS sort. Singaporeans and extremism do not sit together – except when it comes to condemning citizens who disagree and except, perhaps, in the Singapore PAP Govt’s deliberate & accelerated hollowing out of the Singapore core in its ‘radical ideology’ to insanely grow GDP at all cost. Will it be too late for true Singaporeans who do not have the option of migrating when that day cometh?

Perhaps, we deserve the government we elect.

Their Own Personal View of the Internet
At the 22 Aug Indian Institutes of Management (IIMPACT) dialogue, PM Lee revealingly said, “My personal view is that human society was not designed with the internet age in mind, in the sense that the way it has always worked – you have lags, information disseminates over a period of time, you have time to think it over, (let it) sink in, discuss it, understand it, and gradually form what we hope is a wise consensus. But today, all of that is telescope and the splash goes out tonight and tomorrow morning, everybody knows the answer, which may be the wrong answer. In fact, far from having a faster circuit, you have a short circuit collectively…” 

“…It makes your margin of stability much narrower and you have to be able to navigate that and have bumps and spills along the way. It’s inevitable,” he added.

Now, contrast that with President Yudhoyono’s view, spoken a week later at the UN Alliance of Civilizations 6th Global Forum, Bali, 29 Aug.

“As to the Internet, there is no arguing that it is effective in quickly and widely disseminating basic data. It can also be a ruthless agent for the viral spread of prejudice and advocacy of violence. Many a terrorist has been recruited through social media. At the very least, therefore, advocates of a reasonable dialogue between cultures and faiths should make optimal use of the Internet, particularly social media.”

Unlike the PAP’s choice approach to ‘fix’ whoever is considered by them – and them alone – to be opposing their creed and doctrine, President Yudhoyono takes the true leadership mettle to counsel his audience,

The point cannot be missed : tolerance, open-mindedness, respect for others, do not happen by itself. They must be taught, trained and instilled in our people…We must therefore never tire to open up our children’s minds, and inculcate in them the values of diversity and unity.” (instead of a quick fix?)

“To open up minds, (we) must also seek to raise the quality of dialogue between civilizations, cultures, faiths and ideologies and then to advance it beyond words and into the realm of effective action.” (instead of just ‘read the RIGHT thing’)

All views should be brought into the dialogue—even radical ones. For if moderates talked only with moderates, there will be no change. The voices of the moderates should be strengthened, but it is equally important that the grievances of those who have been alienated and who feel left out should be given a hearing. Their grievances should be addressed, with patience and determination.” Read more < http://presidenri.go.id/index.php/eng/pidato/2014/08/29/2427.html >

Lesson in Leadership
The cynical will say that the President has the luxury of speaking as one stepping down from responsibility in 2 months time. Whereas PM Lee is straddled with a man-made nation that faces existential threats from all quarters and at all times. (Yeah, but he can always step down, right?)

However, the threat to his beloved Indonesia is no less. They suffered the Bali and Marriot Hotel bombings with resilience. Whilst Singapore has no more than faced the Mat Selamat escape. Ironically, a terrorist handed over to us by the Indonesian authorities – albeit with inputs by our own Intelligence forces. Still, let’s honestly acknowledge the disasters thwarted by our security forces.

Back to Leaders and Leadership.

In a brave new world with the Internet and Social Media, Leaders lead. Losers lament.

Losers lament for the days of old when they monopolize control of the sheep with Straits Times and Radio Television Singapore (RTS) or Singapore Broadcasting Corp (SBC).

Losers lie that the Internet was meant to cause ‘a great convergence of universal truth’ when it’s no more than the latest, ever-evolving construct for faster communication.

Losers leech on the negatives of the Internet to feed the fears of the sheep in order to continue their politics of power.

Leaders, well, leaders lead. To ‘open up minds…raise the quality of dialogue…(with) all views…brought into the dialogue – even radical ones. For if moderates talked only with moderates, there will be no change. The voices of the moderates should be strengthened, but it is equally important that the grievances of those who have been alienated and who feel left out should be given a hearing. Their grievances should be addressed, with patience and determination.”

Contrast that with our own leaders, including our own 35.20%-elected president. If our leaders pale in comparison with President Yudhoyono’s calibre, then Change we Must! 


Note that President Yudhoyono’s call to lead applies equally to all sides. Any one side cannot aim to ‘seize the narrative’. Each side must engage ‘all views’ to achieve a majority agreement on a compromised narrative if Singapore is to move forward.

Doing anything less will be replicating the PAP’s ‘our way or the highway’ road to polarization and then disunity.

Forget the lie that Singapore will be kaput if it’s not the PAP way. Singapore was thriving long before PAP arrived and will still be here – albeit differently configured either with 6.9 mil or less.

But Change our lame, lamenting leaders we Must.
End PAP’s dominance or else PAP dominance will end us.



9 thoughts on “The Internet : Leaders Lead. Losers Lament.

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 3 Sep 2014 | The Singapore Daily

  2. Hi there. You might just want to revise your opinion on this whole “PM Lee is anti-internet” rhetoric. I think granted, PM Lee being PM Lee, he is going to speak out against the potential subversiveness and what the PAP govt considers to be troublemaking on the internet. He hasn’t yet acquired the finesse yet to go about it in a more polished way.

    But if you’ve checked out the man’s facebook page, as well as that of other ministers, as well as some of the efforts being made lately, you would have noticed that the government wants in on the internet. They’re even bringing in a 4th Telco, and turning Singapore into a “smart nation”. Besides, for all the expectation of draconian crackdown on alternative viewpoints, how many blogs or sites have been closed down? Close to none. How many bloggers have been sued? One Roy Ngerng, and I’m not sure you want to regard him as a shining example of your blogging community.

    I think PM Lee and the PAP are more embracing of this modern portal of information than you might think.

    If there is one thing to worry about, I would put it in the following blog post:


    The avenue for discourse on the internet is there, but it seems that even with the government closing one eye, many of these alternative sites are struggling to monetize themselves or even to obtain donations to keep going. Why is that?


    • We agree LHL embraces the adulations and positive posts on his FB, many of which are from his IB. We note that the unflattering comments are merely swiftly deleted and the commenters not sued.


      • Lol. The usual IB reason again? Maybe you think I am one then. Seriously, if there are that many IBs around, then perhaps don’t need to challenge PAP anymore then.

        I don’t look at the comments. Many of the comments on his page are eerily too apple polishing for my taste. I merely see by the number of likes his page has garnered over time, and the number of friends on my FB page who liked it. Some of these friends will like other social media sites like TRS, for instance, but then turn around and like PM Lee’s page as well.

        So, all from IB?


      • Argued like a PAP Politician. I said many, you say I said all. Strawman, followe by red herrings. What your friends are purportedly doing does not invalidate my points. Thanks for the examples.


    • Nice to hear fr you again, Darren.

      I do not see LHL as being ‘anti-internet’. My view as expressed in the blog has more to do with how he has been struggling – privately – to come to terms with a medium that does not sit well within his preferred view of politics vis-a-vis SG that he and his have lorded over for so long.

      Hence, isn’t it ‘revealing’ that he said what he did on 22 Aug?

      As for his and his cabinet appearing to take to the Internet like ducks to the waters, isn’t it curious when seen against what they have been publicly saying about the medium? If we were to tally up what those remarks were, does it surprise anyone that their negative takes far outweigh the positive? At most, they are just grudgingly putting up with the times re their internet presence.

      What’s more telling is that their negative pronouncements almost always serve as fodder for ridicule – when you juxtapose them against their activities, esp the PM’s, on the net to reach out to their audience.

      Yes, I have visited LHL’s FB page more than a few times. And, as a non-geek, I was impressed as you are with the number of followers, the thumbs up and, like you, unimpressed with all the fawning remarks. But an IT friend told me that the numbers can be and, I guess, are manipulated.

      In their hearts of hearts, they want more control over access to the net. They are too used to ‘control’ and are too lazy or arrogant to work on ‘influencing’ instead. But any more screw-tightening and they’d make mighty fools of themselves in the eyes of the world and voters. Besides discrediting their own leadership & glowing plans for SG, any greater control will mean admitting they failed to persuade and lost the debate of whither SG.

      I just love how the story is unfolding…


      • Hello. Thanks for the reply. I can’t disprove that the numbers are manipulated. Neither can I claim that many of the posters there are not PAP IBs. I also agree with Bo Beep Little above that any negative comments are deleted.

        However, I think it is quite tedious to say that, whatever the PAP does on the internet is mainly through manipulation and IB. Bo Beep inadvertently admitted that he did not mean “all” are from IB, which was what I am trying to say. This has always been, and remains a hard core support for the PAP and PM Lee, and it too is manifesting itself on the internet perhaps as strongly as the anti-PAP sentiment is. How do you explain sites like “Fabrications about the PAP”? Even I roll my eyes at that one, but it exists, and it has its fair number of likes.

        But you are right to say that in their heart of hearts, the PAP wish they could control the internet better. But I think they are pragmative enough to know that this might be impossible, short of implementing totally draconian, punitive measures against the online community and suffering the subsequent backlash. So what do they do? They want in, of course. They want a piece of the pie.

        So why do they keep speaking about the negativity and divisiveness as though the internet is really bad? In part because it is partially true. I think for a moment lets forget about the anti-PAP/pro-PAP topic, you would have seen that in recent times, the internet, while not being the cause for division, has amplified and brought to light many divisive issues. Gaza, Pink Dot, and many other potentially more polarising issues.

        And why does PM Lee, and other PAP ministers/MPs take pains to point all of these out from time to time? I can’t be sure, but they are after all politicians. There is a mass market out there with a significant portion of people who see the divisiveness going on online, and will buy into this thinking. I enclose here Bertha Henson’s post of the subject. It says roughly what I’m trying to point out.


        Overall, I think the online landscape is poised to grow, not just in Singapore but the world. In Singapore, I really don’t see the PAP being such a huge obstacle to the internet. Sure, Roy Ngerng is being sued, and Leslie Chew/Alex Au were given letters of demand previously, but it looks like that is it. Sites like TRE, TOC, TRS, ASS, and many many other blogs are allowed to exist. Why are some of them struggling for funds at the moment? Not because of the PAP, but because people who regularly visit them don’t even have the conviction of supporting them financially. In other words, they want a free portal to air their complaints, and that’s it.

        Many netizens shoot their mouth off online, yet lambast the local online scene for being tightly controlled. Why? Its because they have the wrong concept of what online freedom of speech is. They are ranters, ravers by nature. To them, freedom online means the freedom to bash and troll, where religious, homosexual, racist and xenophobic remarks should have no limits. At the slightest criticism, they pull out the “no freedom of speech card” and wave it about. Sorry if I sound condescending, but if we were to rely on this level of dialogue, intelligence, and human behaviour, we won’t have a truly developed online landscape. All we have with such people is an excuse for the PAP to say “see, this is what damage internet freedom can do”.


      • In short, to follow up on that long post, I think its perhaps about time we stopped discussing about the effect of the PAP on cyberspace, but what cyberspace, at least in Singapore, should evolve into.

        Why pay so much attention to the fact that negative comments are deleted from PM’s FB page, and talk so much about the existence of a PAP IB group? The internet is free for everyone. And if it is free, it will mean that there can be other sites out there that offer an alternative view of things. And a mature audience can therefore look at both sides and sieve what seems more truthful to them.

        That’s what a mature online environment is really about.


  3. IMO, its not Roy is, the issue patently is what LHL is as PM, the most powerful in the land. A govt cannot have the luxury of saying things one day one way when it suits them and another way another day and fully expecting to be understood.


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