Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is reported to have voiced his disdain as to the authenticity of the new media, among other things, at a dialogue with about 100 so-called active contributors to the government feedback arm Reaching Everyone for Active Citizen (REACH) yesterday. He calls it "astroturfing". As the name suggests REACH could not be anything but a docile body and the 100 active contributors could best be described as a captive audience. It could have made a difference if it had included other discerning Singaporeans.
The Prime Minister has pompously cited the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) saga last year to prove his erroneous contention of online complicity to lure government's involvement to back one side against the other in the leadership tussle. The AWARE saga was a humdrum association domestic quarrel hardly of any national significance and if the government could be duped by so-called online deception into taking sides, then it could go to show the quality of government leadership or the lack of it.
Perhaps it could have occurred to the lucid mind of the Prime Minister the impetus that led to the evolution of the new media in Singapore. Every right-thinking Singaporean is aware that the sycophantic main stream media, epecially the egregious Straits Times, will only disseminate government propaganda and not any dissenting thesis inimical or unflattering to the government. There is the omnipotent Singapore Press Holdings, at the head of which is a government spin doctor, which monitors closely every piece of propaganda that the main stream media dish out to the public. The current news report of the Prime Minister's salvo on the new media is a typical example.
Can you blame the pent-up netizens for opening up an alternative media channel to disseminate the truth about the iniquities of the PAP government? The Prime Minister will be living in a fool's paradise if he thinks that their online crticisms of the government and its ministers are colluded fakes and are not given serious attention by discerning Singaporeans. The Barisan National in Malaysia is a good example for pooh-poohing their netizens and suffered a severe setback in their last general election when they were hit by a tsunami evidently masterminded by the online citizens. This could not have failed to wake up the PAP leadership to the possibility of a similar tsunami hitting the PAP in the next General Election in Singapore. The PAP leadership was seen to be scrambling to clutch at a straw by sending their seasoned war-horse, the narcissistic Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, to Malaysia under the guise of a fraternal visit to suss out the cause of the Barisan National election debacle as a lesson for the PAP.
The Prime Minister is an astute politician and he ignores the pernicious influence (pernicious to the PAP) of the online citizens at his peril.