No Surprise: Singapore arrests blogger who posted anti-government notes on Facebook

Seems that the government of the very “fine” land of Singapore — fines for littering, fines for chewing gum, fines for walking on the grass, etc. — remains intolerant of anyone saying something bad about it or the ruling party.

Abdul Malik Ghazali was arrested after he posted comments on Facebook critical of how Singapore is running the inaugural Youth Olympic Games. Special attention was paid in those comments to the minister for community development, youth and sports.

AFP reports (Singaporean arrested for anti-gov’t remarks on Facebook) that Malik’s postings on his own Facebook page highlighted recent floods in Singapore, the escape of detained terror suspect Mas Selamat Kastari, the amount of money spent to host the games and reports of the poor standard of food served for games volunteers.

He said it was time to “burn” the sports minister and the ruling party.

“Rally together and vote them out!!!” he wrote.

Abdul Malik said in comments published Wednesday by The New Paper that “the comment is a metaphor”.

“I did not intend for it to be taken literally. I did not mean for someone to actually burn,” he said.

The Singapore government takes a dim view of any dissent it cannot control. Government leaders have successfully sued dissidents for libel. In some cases the lawsuits have bankrupted political organizations.

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8 Comments

Filed under Asia, Censorship

8 responses to “No Surprise: Singapore arrests blogger who posted anti-government notes on Facebook

  1. Social networking websites like Friendster, FaceBook and Twitter have changed the information environment. Citizen Journalists, like Abdul Malik, can now reach out and influence as many individuals as professional run news organisations. Herein lies the danger. As unlike professional journalists who abide by a code of ethics, citizen journalists are unregulated and may be motivated by personal agendas. In addition, the homogeneity of these social communities, and sense of bond among “friends” with common interests, makes these communities susceptible to being easily manipulated.

    The Greek Riot in 2008 is a case in point where the death of a student, at the hands of the police, need not have degenerated into nation-wide violent protests. The incident could have remained contained pending investigations by the authorities. Unfortunately, irresponsible citizens began spreading unsubstantiated accusations of police brutality on social networking sites. This fanned anti-police sentiments which eventually spiralled out of control. Analysts are unanimous in their belief that social networking websites were the catalysts in the Greek riots of 2008.

    Hence, while I believe that netizens have the right to express their views, the expression of these views must be done responsibly. The inciting of violence is definitely not one freedom I support.

    In my opinion, the Police is right to investigate this case and if a crime has been committed, the appropriate actions taken.

    • kubiske

      But the problem is that in many countries like Singapore the crime is speaking out against the government in an “unauthorized” manner.

      Absolutely threats of violence should be investigated. But the real intent of the police action in this case seemed more to stifle criticism than any serious belief violence was about to be done.

      And why does one need to be arrested to investigate? Aren’t the Singapore cops able to ask a few questions to determine if the writer really meant to “burn” the minister?

      On the large issue of rumor-mongers influencing the public. Unfortunately I have seen in too many places that rumors are more believable because of restrictive or unresponsive governments and/or because of a lack of trust in the local media.

      Many time this lack of trust comes because the media are unable to tell the truth about what is happening. (Think China.) Other times it is unwilling because of bad ethics within the media outlets. (Think of the National Enquirer or other supermarket tabloid.)

      Bottom line: Without trusted and free media, rumors and unsubstantiated rantings will carry more weight. (Hell, just look at the USA. The Tea Party folks build distrust against the major news organizations — New York Times, CNN, etc. They then replace the factual info one would get with their own story line. Hence, 1 in 5 Americans think Obama is a Muslim or that he was not born in the United States.

      Trust is everything. I used to tell my journalism students trust is like virginity. Once gone, it’s gone.

  2. anonymous

    the word is “libel” not “liable”! (last word in the second last sentence)

  3. Heh. The police are getting nervous ever since the PAP MP Seng Hang Thong was literally burned by a crazy dude last year. That said, kinda shaky though to think that one guy’s comment can be taken out of context and used by another psycho to chuck a molotov at a politician. If merely a warning is issued in the end rather than a jail sentence to send a message, fair enough.

    • Anonymous

      I am a Singaporean. You are right, i almost forgot that case. The poor MP was badly burnt by a crazy person.

  4. George

    The Elitists who run singapore need to be assassinated. and there needs to be violent upheavel and revolution in that country and most other countries on the planet, and the singapore Fascist controlled government cant do a damn thing about this comment or me as i am in AMERICA ha ha! However we do need a revolution here too.

  5. Anonymous

    free world peace

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