Since the advent of the internet, it can be said that it has been a bane to the PAP Government. The mainstream media (MSM) has been monopolised by the PAP as its propaganda organ and the social media becomes a valuable alternative source of information to the public to counter the inimical effect of one-sided MSM news dissemination.It is quite natural for the PAP wallahs to view this phenomenon as alarming and to rack their brains to try to find an acceptable excuse to regulate the intractable netizens. They have not forgotten their ignoble defeat in Aljunied GRC in the last general election in which the netizens played no small part.
It falls on Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, the unenviable task of finding a solution to this hot potato. This is tricky problem involving the freedom of speech and the minister dealing with it must be one with exceptional ingenuity. So far Dr Yaacob has been sounding out through the MSM his idea of a code of conduct to be administered by the internet community itself. The public reaction was not very encouraging as the internet community is very much against any form of governmental control, much less a code of conduct for the internet.
Not to be discouraged by this minor setback, obviously at the direction of the minister, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) held a closed door conference on Thursday on the proposed code of conduct for the internet.The event was attended by officers from various ministries, MDA, academics, bloggers and observers from the media. As expected the bloggers were quite adamant in their stand and told the Government that they should grow a thick skin and leave the internet alone.Dr Yaacob was advised to give the suggestion for a code of conduct a rest.
Does that put paid to Dr Yaacob's persistent effort in proposing a code of conduct for the internet? Only time will tell but it is not likely that the PAP Government will allow him to beat a retreat if not for anything maybe because of a possible loss of face.The occasional aberrations of some exuberant netizens in making racist comments, young women prostituting themselves online, cyber bullying and the spreading of falsehoods are considered a minuscule problem in the internet world not beyond the ability of the competent authority to handle.
Quite rightly the internet community is hardly convinced that this minority of misdemeanants could constitute such a major security problem as to require the introduction of a code of conduct for the internet.The Government may not agree with this assessment but where do we go from here? Would it not be prudent for the Government to allow the status quo to continue until such time when the situation warrants it to be reviewed?