You ever wonder...... why President Obama can run a country with 311 million citizens without ever threatening to sue someone for what they say and leaders of a small island have to waste their time doing this through their lawyers? There are not enough problems around to keep them busy? Leaders suing ordinary citizens for saying something in public or on the Internet does not happen in any other developed country except one. I thought they were trying to win over the younger generation - the Internet savvy Singaporeans who spend their time on Facebook, discussion groups, reading blogs, online papers etc. The Internet has transformed everything we do and how we think. We now assimilate and process information from multiple sources and exploit this information to make decisions. Because the Internet is open, free and unregulated, people using it have learned to filter, weigh, ignore, avoid and discount information....there is so much information and people have learned to cope with it. There is plenty said about Obama, Merkel, Ma-Ying-Jeou and Noda on the Internet but they don't threaten to sue anyone.
Richard Wan identified himself as one of 6 editors of TREmeritus and was threatened with multiple lawsuits shortly after his identity is known. Well so much for encouraging people to identify themselves, Alex Au received a letter saying that allegations surrounding some public figures exist...he didn't even said say what the allegations were just that they exist . These threats of lawsuits are a waste of time because it spreads fear among people who have identified themselves and does nothing to control the source of the allegations - the forums, discussion groups. In fact following the report of these threats of lawsuits, I notice there is heightened interest among people in what the actual allegations are. These threats encourages people to post criticisms anonymously and drive legitimate voices underground, when you select some people to threaten for some allegations unknown to most people, people do become fearful. This is a reminder of our authoritarian past and tendency of our leaders to suppress criticisms using various means. This sensitivity to allegations and criticism is strange and alien to the younger generation that have grown up with the Internet as an integral part of their life- ideas good and bad flow freely, quickly and unhindered.
The best way to deal with the way people and information is for govt to be transparent, accountable and give citizens access to as much information as possible so long as it does not compromise national security. Why can't we have a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) like they do in all developed countries that are democracies? Having access to full and accurate information will reduce the need for people to seek out alternative sources of information. Even when questions are asked in parliament, we see this reluctance to give full disclosure - we can trace the MP Vee's question on scholarship for foreigners ...he had to ask a few times and a few different ways to get the numbers. If this is a govt that is not doing things it has to hide, then allow the citizens full access to information and that is the best way to stop people from speculating and depending on less reliable sources of information.