The People’s Action Party government has a political imagination of fake news which they want to show the world how to handle it in Singapore’s parliament. They imagine, as in the past, they can manipulate or question the witnesses to suit or support their purpose so that they can pass or amend laws meeting their political expectations.
The little red dot wants to teach the world how to define fake news, in a rush act pointed out by Facebook, and how an effective government, under a one-party state, should deal with it.
However, there is no Lee Kuan Yew, the only known international statesman of Singapore. During his time, there are some controversial but operative (and successful) political imaginations like the merger and separation from Malaysia, Operations Coldstore, Operation Spectrum, and international admired Electronic Road Pricing, CPF and HDB programs etc.
We may not agree with the above political imaginations but they works well for the PAP and perhaps, for majority of voters in Singapore too. Is that because of fake news, according to Dr Thum Ping Tjin?
In his submission to the Committee, Thum asserted that fake news has not had much of an impact in Singapore, with one major exception: the “falsehoods” that the People’s Action Party (PAP) used to justify the detentions of thousands under the Internal Security Act from 1963 to 1987.
“Beginning with Operation Coldstore in 1963, politicians have told Singaporeans that people were being detained without trial on national security grounds due to involvement with radical communist conspiracies to subvert the state. Declassified documents have proven this to be a lie.”
Historical events can turn a fortune of a country, a political party and her political leaders. It, of course, affects the other side, and the fate of people. Operation Coldstore is certainly one such example.
PAP’s political imaginations work and function well because they are mainly domestic issues which the PAP enjoys monopoly in power and in parliament. Externally, it also has the support of Cold War political climate.
We are now at a different environment and unfamiliar situation. However, the PAP still believes their own political imagination on fakes news and deliberate online falsehoods.
Social media and online news are different, especially for a country which ranks so low internationally for press freedom. However, the PAP’s political imagination is still the same, using the absolute majority in parliament to legalise their action. Do you think the Select Committee can really provide a “world” solution on fakes news? Or will it be just another stamping of the political imagination of the PAP?
The Select Committee invites international organisations and internet players to provide views on fakes news. The PAP tries to put the world views into Singapore context and re-package it as a pioneer solution for the world, like the ERP. Many advanced countries have the technology to implement our current ERP system but choose not to. Why? In Singapore, it is easy and it matches the political imagination of the PAP: people just obey and pay without thinking.
However, fakes news and deliberate online falsehoods are more complicated. Just like the merger and separation from Malaysia, Operations Coldstore, Operation Spectrum, ERP, CPF and HDB programs etc. Partial interpretation or selected reporting can also be a source of fake news. For the advantage of the PAP, they will just imagine the beneficial ones as reliable news and publishes them in the mainstream media. However, for social media, the game play is different and it is beyond the PAP’s imagination. Hence, there is a need to control the so-called online falsehoods.
One good thing about the Public Hearings is we get to hear the other side of the story that K Shanmugam, acting like a prosecutor, questioning the witnesses. Why must a minister spending his valuable time asking questions not within or fitting the imagination of the PAP?