I always knew that it was going to happen.
It was just a matter of time.
To me, the only surprise was that it took so long for the government to gazette The Online Citizen as a political association.
Then again, the elections are looming. So this too is the right season for the PAP to do what it did.
Years ago, I already realised that in the Singapore blogosphere, group blogs commenting on sociopolitical issues were at risk. The more well-organised, prolific and popular a group blog is, the higher the risk it would face.
That is one reason why I never joined any group blogs.
(The other main reason is that I like the freedom of having my own individual blog. Apart from yakking about sociopolitical issues, I can also yak about anything else that interests me).
In my opinion, as far as raising public awareness; promoting active citizenship and encouraging critical thinking among Singaporeans, the best form that the blogosphere can take is as follows.
(1) Lots and lots of individual bloggers.
(2) Many, many intelligent voices providing reasoned, constructive views.
(3) But no individual voice should be so compelling and outstanding that it becomes an obvious nail for the PAP to hammer down on (whether by defamation suits, political gazetting, public ministerial attacks, police investigations or the like).
(4) An amorphous, informal network among the active bloggers, so that they interconnect themselves with plenty of hyperlinks, "Friends", "Likes", blog comments etc.
The gist of the idea is that the Singapore sociopolitical blogosphere should be as big as possible, so that its collective influence is far and wide, and yet sufficiently diffuse, so that the PAP lacks obvious targets to attack.
Anyway, I'm reading the Internet commentary out there, and I see that many posters commented about the "foreign funding" aspect of the Online Citizen issue. (Gazetted political associations are not allowed to receive funding from foreigners).
This is a red herring. Or a non-issue. It just isn't the point.
Seriously, it costs peanuts to run a website. (And that is what The Online Citizen mainly is - a website).
Using Blogger, Wordpress and the like, you can set up free blogs and web pages within a few minutes.
If you pay for your own server space, that costs a bit more money. You get to pick your own domain name; you have more space to upload files etc. But seriously, it just costs a bit more money.
One doesn't need "foreign funding" to achieve that.
Personally, I don't see what's the big deal about foreign funding.
This is not the US, where political campaigns can be expensive. In Singapore, even if an opposition candidate has billions of bucks, the government will allow him only x minutes to appear on TV and talk to the people of Singapore.
It's not as if he's able to buy more airtime with his money. He's already constricted and tied down by a host of government laws, regulations and rules, on his campaigning activities.
Got money, also cannot spend.
Anyway, every other Tom, Dick and Harry on this island is a foreigner. The government adores them, talented or not.
So what's the big deal? About foreign funding?
Oh, remind me to write about something else in my next post. About my favourite poem. Or my daughter's IQ test. Or my new furniture.
Something non-political. Otherwise, who knows? Maybe the government would change the law again and say that even an individual blogger can be a "political association". LOL.