Parents setting up social media accounts for babies

From ‘Never too young for social media’, 1 May 2016, article by Venessa Lee, Sunday Times

One-year-old Kallista Choo has several social media accounts, including Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr. When she is old enough to access those accounts herself, she will see herself growing up via the photographs her parents have uploaded over the years.

They set up an Instagram account for her when she was two months old, and then a Facebook page and Tumblr blog.

…On Instagram, Kallista has more than 1,300 followers. Mr Choo says: “We wanted to give her a voice before she could even talk.”

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Kallista Choo, Instagram talking baby, social media darling, is an influencer extraordinaire in the making. While other parents set up bank accounts, enrol their toddlers into modelling classes, or sign them up for cutest baby competitions, our ‘millennial’ parents have created the modern equivalent of the ‘Truman Show’ around their oblivious children.

We know how that movie ended. The protagonist, sick of having his life documented to micro-detail and shown off to the world by a father figure-dictator named Christof, walks out of his manufactured stage, saying ‘Kthxbye’ to surrogate Daddy and his tens of thousands of followers. Today, Harry Truman lives on among our children thanks to their over-enthusiastic, controlling Christofs.

In the neglected recesses of my old house my parents keep an endearing nude pic of me as a baby, among an embarrassment of forgotten memories like me dolled up for a kindergarten play. It’s the kind of stuff you would dig up only once in a while and laugh at the sheer stupidity of it. And that’s all it’s meant to be, as a private family joke, away from prying eyes of kaypoh relatives and pedophiles. Mentioned once or twice and then we move on. If it’s bad enough you will remember it FOREVER. You don’t need Facebook to send you random throwbacks. If they had put me on Instagram, or worse, Tumblr (renown for its porn blogs), with the caption ‘I’M TOO SEXY FOR MY DIAPERS’, for over 1000 buggers to scoff at, my teenage years would have gone beyond pustulant acne, exam stress and thoughts of cutting. I could be picked on at school because the first friends I have on Facebook are my damn parents.

Social media is a rose-tinted filter. You don’t see the likes of Kallista throwing a fit, bawling and giving them hell in the middle of the night. Her parents have presented her to the world as a cute-as-a-button bundle of joy. When the time comes for Mom and Dad to hand over the accounts to their teenage kid, she would have been drilled into believing that ‘I post, therefore I am’. She risks being overdependent on Likes, Facebook Reactions, the opinion of others, affected by ‘Unfollows’, and growing up constantly seeking mass approval, an ingratiating mess. On the flipside, if your kid screws up his life and ends up in the papers some day for felony, people would go ‘OMG that’s @hamsumboiboi! He used to be SOOOO adorable!’ But breeding a narcissistic complex, attention-seeking behaviour, a rebellious streak or generally annoying the heck out of singles or couples trying for kids are probably the least of your worries.

Over-sharing your children’s pics puts their safety on the line. For anyone with ill intentions, your baby photo could end up as a link to a paedo porn site. If some psychopath wants to steal your baby, stalking has never been easier with social media tagging. In the past, if I wanted to kidnap your baby I would have to physically get out of my house and follow you around, peep around corners and even buy a pair of binoculars. Today, all I need to do is log into Instagram from the comfort of my home in my dirty underwear. Grudging baby-haters may cyberbully her before she could even walk. And if you think you own the right to your pictures and they should never be reproduced without permission, think again.

But the absolute shittiest thing you could do to a baby online is Faceswap away whatever dignity’s left in your child. What kind of sick, creepy-ass parent are you, really. I formally disown you, Faceswap Father!

I’m sure parents would have thought all this through and adjusted their privacy settings accordingly. Except that most of us get so excited when our babies express their first sentences or emit farts louder than Grandpa’s that we lose our minds and let our fingers and thumbs take over. I don’t know how many of Kallista’s 1300-odd followers are friends, random admirers, spambots or lurking sickos. I don’t know how many of those would remain loyal followers when the kid grows up to be a boring as hell teen. It’s a good time, nonetheless, to be a child psychologist. My Dad abused me as a baby – by putting his ugly mug over mine for laughs and I haven’t been sleeping well since.

Maybe all this isn’t about the baby at all, but a vanity showcase of ourselves as awesome parents. Some folks have been known to even set up accounts for their unborn foetus. If I insist on documenting the birth of my child from scratch I may post a photo of Mummy’s positive pregnancy test, right down to the graphic details of how I pumped our shared DNA into Mommy’s cervix.  I long for the old days when parents remain as parents and do normal parenting stuff like teaching their kid how to ride a bike so that kids can, well, be kids, and grow up in a world where their development isn’t being constantly hampered by the pressures of being an unwilling Internet celebrity, where a memory doesn’t need to be hashtagged and commented on for it to exist.

 

 

 

Tampines 1 reported to police for racial discrimination

From ‘Women files police report against Tampines 1 for alleged racial discrimination; mall issues apology’, 9 April 2016, ST

A woman filed a police report on Friday (April 8) against Tampines 1 shopping mall, alleging that she was subjected to racial discrimination by an employee of the mall.

The mall had earlier issued a public apology to businesswoman Diana Hairul, and told The Straits Times it had counselled the employee about her actions.

Ms Diana, 36, who uploaded on Facebook on Thursday (April 7) evening a screenshot of an e-mail she received from the employee, wrote that she had felt discriminated by the reply.

The e-mail read: “Hi Dee, We are not so keen to run a Malay road show as our target audience are mainly Chinese. Thus, we regret to inform you that we are unable to rent a space to you.”

What’s shocking to me is not so much that a police report is being filed, since the police have been activated for more petty things, like a child getting scolded by a teacher. What’s unnerving is Diana’s FB post and Tampines MP Masagos Zulkifli’s follow up.

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First, she specifically addressed the Malay Muslim community. She didn’t say ‘Hey hey everyone’.  Then there’s ‘rejected US’, which by implication to her first sentence suggests that Tampines 1 wasn’t just declining her business, but Malays in general. The use of CAPS on ‘mainly the chinese’ is to emphasise that this is a race issue. And oh, you should feel discriminated ‘against’, not ‘feel discriminated’, but I think people would have been drowned in CAPS by then to notice. People complain about how Tampines 1’s email was worded but in all fairness, the complainant’s rant and its capacity to incite negative feelings is worth looking into as well.

From a business standpoint, Tampines 1 should have done its calculations and decided that a Hari Raya road show simply would not be profitable. The trick is fudging the answer to make it seem like such road shows are not compatible with the mall’s ‘theme’ or ‘direction’ (They eventually gave the excuse that they were fully booked). We also should not expect businesses to patronise a certain race at the expense of their bottom line. If I were to propose to those in charge at Geylang Serai market that I want to sell Chinese new year decorations, it’s likely that I’ll get rejected because of the obvious ‘target audience’ in the area. Likewise if I were a real estate agent intending to sell a house in Kampong Glam, I’m not going to ‘feel discriminated’ if my boss decides it’s better for my Malay colleague to pitch the sale.

Fine if a member of public makes a commotion over something businesses have to manage discreetly on a daily basis. Anyone who’s mature and sensible enough wouldn’t be riled by Diana’s outburst into believing that Tampines 1 is anti-Malay and doesn’t want their money. When news broke that a Chinese man attacked 3 madrasah students we didn’t descend into a mob. So yes, we can be certain that Singaporeans are rational people and will not boycott Tampines 1 over an isolated incident, no matter how someone tries to assault our senses with complaints in CAPS.

I’m also not too sure about MP Masagos’ strongly worded response on his FB. (Post was deleted at time of writing. Hmmm..)

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‘INSENSITIVE AND INCOMPETENT’, ‘SPREAD ILL WILL’, “SHAME ON YOU!’.

Insensitive, yes, but I don’t think the staff deserves the rest of the berating. Spreading ‘ill will’ is a serious charge, the kind that will land you in court. Didn’t Minister Gan just tell us to develop a ‘learning culture‘ from such mistakes? Has the Minister considered the career repercussions of the affected staff from this public bashing? As a public figure I would have expected something more neutral, diplomatic and forgiving, like ‘Let us all learn from this lesson in our bid to become more inclusive’, or ‘The reply was a missed opportunity. Businesses could emphasise communication skills as part of their training programme’, or ‘The staff may wish to apply for course via SkillsFuture so that such incidents may be avoided’. Taking sides, shaming and fanning flames on the matter short of accusing people of Islamophobia helps no one.

This was Masagos’ response to the Paya Lebar assault earlier in the month.

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Yes, more ‘SHAME ON YOUs’, though in this case he did urge us not to ‘incite hatred and division’. In other words, don’t stir shit while the Police are investigating. The same applies to the Tampines 1 case, whatever the Police are doing to resolve the matter while at the same time managing ‘walking time bombs’ in Little India.

Meanwhile I’ll continue to patronise Tampines 1, Hari Raya bazaar or no bazaar, and hopefully it doesn’t turn into the Little Chinatown of Tampines after this incident. If there’s any mall that deserves to have the police knocking on their doors, it’s not one as supposedly ‘racist’ as Tampines Mall is, but those with the potential to randomly kill you. Jem, I’m talking to you.

Majulah campaign a nationalistic propaganda tool

From ‘Majulah clip draws strong criticism..but praise too’, 21 Feb 2016, article by Joanna Seow, Sunday Times

The group of six behind a provocatively titled video about national identity was prepared for a worse reception than their efforts being labelled “propaganda”.

“The worst-case scenario for me was that no one would even care about the message we were trying to deliver,” said Mr Muhammad Hafiz, 27, the technical director for the We Are Majulah campaign.

But far from being ignored, the video titled I Will Not Die For Singapore has been shared more than 12,100 times on Facebook since its launch on Feb 15. In the first two days alone, it received 48,000 views, over half of which lasted the full length of the eight-minute clip, said 28-year-old Divian Nair, who fronted the video and is the campaign’s creative director.

…The strongest criticisms have been that the movement is a “nationalistic propaganda tool” that will harm society, said Mr Nair.

Don’t flatter yourself. The prospects of Majulah sparking a ‘nationalistic’ uprising are unfounded. Divian does sound sufficiently earnest in the video, but he is more man-on-the-street rah-rah-ing than a charismatic orator who could fire up Singaporeans into volunteering for the army for a greater cause. The melodramatic strings in the background  do little to drive the masses into a jingoistic frenzy. At most, it’s like listening to an orientation camp leader psyching up students before a game, or a volunteer on the street beseeching you to donate your bone marrow. Divian is no cult master demanding a blood sacrifice, though he would make an excellent counselor if you’ve had a bad day and need someone to give you a hug. Yes, take my bone marrow, sirs, but don’t make me sit through another minute of relentless heartstring-tugging. And yes, there’s a clip of LKY’s state funeral in there too.

‘We Are Majulah’ has good intentions, and the team automatically qualifies as a candidate for Singaporean(s) of the Year for their efforts, and may even give Dick Lee a run for the money for creative directorship of this year’s NDP.  But like all calls-to-arms, the effectiveness of the campaign lies not in the content of the message alone, but how it’s packaged and delivered. An 8-minute video with soppy strings would probably suffer the same fate as a heartfelt Mediacorp drama disguised as a Medishield Life ad. Majulah tries to be the Sovil Et Titus of ‘nationalistic’ videos; it has a decent leading man, the right mood, but it would take quite a bit of patience to sit through a humourless monologue without opening another tab to watch videos of cats jumping into random boxes.

I think the team would probably PREFER to be labelled as chest-thumping propaganda than judged to be, well, merely forgettable. Like a wedding video montage of some couple you barely knew in school and the only reason why you’re watching it is because it’s too dark to tuck into the starter dish. Majulah? More like ‘Meh-julah’. I was hoping the climax would deliver the answer to the first question posed in the video: WOULD DIVIAN, OR ANYONE IN WE ARE MAJULAH, DIE FOR SINGAPORE? But no answer came. If this teasing was intentional, it would be a real shitty cliffhanger for a probable second video, titled: ‘YES I WILL DIE FOR SINGAPORE, BUT…’.

In this Instagram age, you need to pander to the short attention-span economy, one that gives you their fullest attention for a full 5 seconds (the compulsory time that lapses before your cat video on Youtube). Something that isn’t just ‘viral’, but propels people into action beyond the click of the button. The ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ or a LKY car decal comes to mind. Using terrorist scaremongering and horrific scenarios like a mob of martyrs jumping on top of a suicide bomber doesn’t work anymore. You also can’t just urge people to use ‘Majulah’ seriously in their conversations without tongue-in-cheek snarkiness like how people use ‘Hallelujah’ outside of Christmas. Majulah has none of the catchiness, inventiveness, even practical usefulness of, say, ‘Bo Jio’. You can’t ‘Majulah’ your neighbour without sounding like you’re hailing a Caesar. Or Fuhrer. It’s like a primary school music teacher beating your head with a baton prompting you to complete the lyric with ‘Singapura’ when you’re just learning how to sing the National Anthem.

This is how Majulah is already being used in our daily speech, other than being sung by schoolkids all over the country:

‘Hey bro, where’s your IPPT ah?’
‘Maju (camp), lah’.

If there’s any phrase that encapsulates the Singaporean can-do spirit, the attitude that we will endure whatever shitstorm that hits us, that we will live on in stoic forbearance in the face of things we cannot control, a term that speaks volumes about our perseverance and humility when the odds are against us, it would be ‘Liddat lor’, the equivalent of Game of Thrones’ ‘Valar Morghulis’, or All men must die. This, fellow Singaporeans, is the ‘glue’ that has bound us all along, from the years of war-torn hardship to today’s fight against invisible enemies, whether they be the tiniest of viruses or a ISIS fanboy in disguise. We may be a cynical, emotionless lot, but no one can deny our hardiness in the face of despair. The boy who made it out of NS in one piece. The cardboard-selling auntie. Those exiled abroad following defamation or sedition charges with a faint glimmer of hope to return. We take it all in our stride, little by little ‘onward’, without the need for hollow slogans or self-made patriots with the naivete to change a country’s psyche to keep us going.

When you lost your job to a foreigner and your friends ask you how’s the job hunt going. Liddat lor.

When your kid barely passed PSLE and you wasted thousands on enrichment programs. Liddat lor.

When the MRT fares are raised again and your pay is still shit because economic downturn. Liddat lor.

And despite the MRT fare raise, the train still breaks down in between Yio Chu Kang and Kranji and you have no choice but to walk on the tracks and take selfies along the way. Liddat lor.

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In times of genuine disappointment and rejection, you can even accentuate it with an ‘Aiya’.

When you missed out on the Toto lucky draw top prize by a single digit. ‘AIYA. Liddat lor’.

When your favorite fishball noodle stall runs out of fishballs after you’ve been queuing for an hour. ‘AIYA. Liddat lor’.

An effective, stable society is run not just by an exceptional minority taking purposeful action, punching above their own weight and Majulah-ing, but a greater majority with the resilience to stomach difficult times without storming the palace fists raised and guns ablazing.   So, Keep Calm and #Liddat Lor, Singapore.

Calvin Cheng on the killing of terrorists’ children

From ‘Calvin Cheng’s killing children remarks insensitive and inappropriate: MLC Chairman’, 28 Nov 15, article by Raymond Tham, CNA

Recent remarks made by former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng online were “insensitive” and “inappropriate” for a member of the Media Literacy Council (MLC), said the council’s chairman Tan Cheng Han in a statement on Friday (Nov 27).

“I have spoken to Mr Cheng and counselled him that as a member of the Council he will be held to and judged by a higher standard compared to a private citizen,” Professor Tan said.

On Nov 17, Mr Cheng posted a four-lined comment online, which seemingly advocated killing the children of terrorists “in case they grow up to take revenge”. Mr Cheng had been responding to a thread about liberalism and security started by Future-Moves group chief executive Devadas Krishnadas.

After receiving negative feedback, Mr Cheng took to his blog on Nov 24 to elaborate further on his initial comment. According to Mr Cheng, his initial comment was meant to be “provocative and outrageous” to spark deeper thought into a “complex moral issue”.

Mr Cheng also referenced two schools of thoughts regarding the topic: Moral absolutism versus utilitarianism. “Take self-defence. If a child is holding a rifle and is about to shoot at you, do you have the right to kill him?” Mr Cheng wrote.

In 2011, a Young PAP member named Jason Neo was accused of racism for captioning an image of bus of kindergarten kids with the phrase ‘young terrorist trainees‘ and posting it on Facebook. Now the MLC would condemn such discrimination as ‘hate speech’, but when a more renown public figure sparks controversy by suggesting how children of terrorists should be handled for the ‘greater good’, the incident is let off the hook on the grounds of ‘insensitivity’. Cheng, as expected of a man of his character, remains grudgingly apologetic/(unapolegetic?) about the whole affair.

Incidentally, both Jason and Calvin Cheng were from the Young PAP (YPAP), though the latter scooted out of that organisation in a hurry to become NMP once his ‘curiosity’ was sufficiently stoked. Back then, Cheng explained that he was ‘curious’ all the time, and that his YPAP stint wasn’t on a ‘whimsy’ or a fling even though he never collected his membership card, and one wonders if that’s the same reason given for being part of the MLC.

While inciting provocative moral issues like whether you should shoot a child in the face if it’s really a demon spawn from the Children of the Corn appears to be out of scope of the MLC’s mission and core values, they do frown upon commentators with a brazen lack of respect or those who engage in personal attacks.

One saga which casts doubt upon Cheng’s capacity to champion media literacy/etiquette was when he targetted playwright Alfian Bin Saat in a FB post, even threatening to invoke the ISA:

…In countries where Muslims are minorities, ISIS propaganda takes advantage of feelings of insecurities, fabricate lies that they are being oppressed and then thereafter persuade them to commit acts of violence against their alleged oppressors, all under a twisted version of Islam.

That is why in Singapore, we have to be careful as we have similar fault-lines that can be exploited.

People like Alfian Sa’at for example need to be careful of their irresponsible rhetoric, which allege racial discrimination against our Malay-Muslim brethren.

…The Government should watch commentators like Alfian Sa’at closely and if red lines are crossed, the use of the ISA on these domestic agitators should not be ruled out.

And then there’s this rant against the evil forces and ‘traitorous’ individuals that threaten to do Singapore (or rather, him) in, namely Kirsten Han and the folks at TOC.

…These tactics must also be fully condemned, and especially Singaporeans like Kirsten Han and the editors of TOC who would gang up with Western forces to do Singapore in. Kirsten Han especially needs to be stopped as she regularly writes for anti-Singapore publications to run us down, and to suck up to the Western liberals.

According to Cheng, enemies of the state are everywhere, not just kids with machine guns. I’m not sure such ‘right-wing’ rhetoric is becoming of a council member of the MLC. Cheng is currently a director of media company Juice Pte Ltd,  though he seems to be branding himself as a leading expert in Muslim religious affairs and terrorism with a wishlist of who should be rounded up and detained without trial.

Since he’s a fan of moral conundrum, here’s one delicious dilemma for Cheng to ponder upon: If you had young LKY tied up on a railway track and a train full of innocent children hurtling towards him, would you blow up the train given the choice?

By the way, how long is one entitled to call yourself ‘Former NMP’? I’m curious.

Society will lose out without a natural aristocracy

From ‘PM tackles questions on S’pore system, freedom of speech at IPS conference’, 4 July 2015, article by Joy Fang, Today

…On the dominance of countries such as the US, Sweden and Israel in innovation, science and technology, Dr Zakaria said these communities are common in that there is a culture of a lack of respect for or challenging authority.

“You spent six hours yesterday in a court trying to do this, to instil a culture of respect. And isn’t it exactly the opposite of what you need for your economic future?” the US journalist asked.

In response, Mr Lee said: “You want people to stand up, not scrape and bow. But if you don’t have a certain natural aristocracy in the system, people who are respected because they have earned that and we level everything down to the lowest common denominator, then I think society will lose out … If you end up with anarchy, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be delivered with brilliance.”

A BBC article in 2004 addressed our PM Lee as a ‘philosopher-prince‘ when he ascended ‘to the throne’, so to speak, following in the footsteps of his late father, who is also no stranger to being compared to royalty. In 1961, David Marshall lamented that workers were in the grip of fear under the rule of ‘Emperor’ Lee Kuan Yew, a title used again by ex Malaysia-PM Mahathir to describe LKY’s interventions into Malaysian politics.

When the founding PM passed away, the outpouring of tributes and grief was without doubt a grand farewell ‘fit for a king’. Granted, our leaders don’t go around asking people to kiss their feet or wear crowns, robes or wield sceptres, but if there’s one thing similar between our ‘socialist democracy/meritocracy‘ and any form of ‘aristocracy’, it’s that any dissent towards the elite, the ‘creme de la creme’, will not be tolerated, even if the target of the insult is dead. It’s like Thailand’s lese majeste, just with a lot more beating around the bush before you finally punish the bugger.

Which inevitably leads to, ironically, a paternalistic ‘bowing and scraping’ culture because people are afraid to throw eggs at their supreme leaders. This despite some members of this ‘aristocracy’ sending conflicting messages and assuring us that nobody will sue you if you call him a ‘stupid fool’. Nonetheless, our PM has no qualms about queuing up with everyday people for chicken wings, like a lord coming down to the village for a taste of hearty rat broth.

Ex president Devan Nair, in a 1983 speech at a President’s scholarship award ceremony, had this to say about ‘natural aristocracy’:

..And as in sports, there is a NATURAL ARISTOCRACY of talent in all the departments, disciplines and professions of public life. To abolish the natural aristocracy of talent would be to acknowledge the right of butchers to take over surgical wards in hospitals, or to have your teeth pulled out by carpenters rather than by qualified dentists.

Meaning, as one Total Defence song goes, ‘there’s a part for everyone’, whether you’re a serf, a general, a scientist, or the guy chopping pork at a wet market, and the only way to move up the social ladder is to prove your worth through hard work, sometimes with a stroke of luck.

In PM Lee’s context, however, it’s about ‘respect’, showing who’s boss, that one shouldn’t ‘play games’ and mess around with DA AUTHORITY, otherwise we’d all fall into a state of hellish anarchy, a situation which I suppose includes people not queuing up in an orderly manner for chicken wings anymore. Back in the old days, any duke or baron who got his pride wounded would challenge the offender to a gentleman’s duel. Today, our natural ‘aristocrat of aristocrats’ uses not a sword, nor a pistol, against the likes of Roy Ngerng, but a Davinder Singh.

MDA’s ban on TRS draconian and excessive

From ‘TRS’ bid to stoke social tension unacceptable’, 7 May 2015, ST Forum

(Ann Chan, director of Communications, MDA): THE Media Development Authority (MDA) strongly disagrees with Ms Braema Mathi’s assertions that our actions are “draconian” and “excessive” (“Regulating online space: Engaging stakeholders in dialogue much better”; yesterday).

Based on information that has come to light, The Real Singapore’s (TRS) editors Yang Kaiheng and Ai Takagi were deliberately fabricating articles and inserting falsehoods to stoke anti-foreigner sentiments and undermine Singapore’s national harmony.

They did this to attract more readers to TRS, and thus, generate more advertising revenue for themselves. They were, in effect, lining their pockets at Singapore’s expense.

Suspending TRS’ licence was necessary to ensure Yang and Takagi did not do more damage with their deceitful reporting. In suspending TRS’ licence, the MDA had provided Yang and Takagi our grounds for doing so, including specifying the offending articles that contravened the Internet Code of Practice, and giving them seven days to explain why their licence should not be cancelled. They can also appeal against the suspension. Due process has been followed.

We agree with Ms Mathi that the diversity of Singapore’s populace should be reflected in the diversity of opinions online. But accepting diversity does not mean we also have to accept deceit, fabrications, plagiarism and distortions – all just to make a quick buck.

Unlike human rights activists like Braema Mathi, media experts have lauded the TRS ban by MDA as an example of the authority’s ‘light touch’ approach because TRS was considered an ‘extreme’ site among other platforms with similar content. In other words, the MDA was ‘magnanimous’ enough to leave the less popular, but equally offensive, sites alone, sites that weren’t milking the eyeballs of gullible Singaporeans and ‘making a quick buck’.

Apparently a ‘light touch’ is also an inconsistent, cherry-picking one, one that does nothing more that make the xenophobe poster-child that is TRS a scapegoat and hope that the rest of the wannabes clean up their act out of fear. It’s as ‘light-handed’ as a mob boss burying someone alive for not paying his dues ‘as a lesson’ to anyone who even thinks of screwing him over. There’s no evidence that this approach is even effective. A ‘Straits Times Review’ site (renamed States Times Review to avoid legal tussles with ST) with a similar bent as TRS has come online as we speak. MDA believed it had lopped off the Medusa’s head like Perseus when all it did was snip off one of the Hydra’s.

No details were given by MDA as to how much TRS makes from posting these evil ‘fabrications’ to qualify the ‘quick buck’ claim, nor exactly the level of ‘damage’ the site has caused to warrant a total shutdown since its inception.   This explanation in defence of their ‘draconian’ web content-slaying seems to be flip-flopping between TRS as a threat to national harmony and their unscrupulous profiteering. If ‘due process’ had been followed, then it seems rather at odds with this whole ‘light touch’ policy given that some sites get hit, while others, like TRE or the aggressive Blood Stained Singapore blog, do not.

The internet, of course, is full of deceit and distortions. Influencers are paid to write negative reviews of telcos, for example. A famous blogger who supposedly cured her brain cancer by eating ‘wholefoods’ recently admitted that it was all a damn sham. Unlike the alleged ‘damage’ that TRS has caused, following a quack’s advice instead of seeking medical attention actually kills you in the long run. Other authors exaggerate, sensationalise and frame their content whichever way they see fit to get readership, some of international standing earning the wrath of our own leaders for slanted journalism. I could create an entire fantasy blog about how I’m actually 100 years old and that the secret to my longevity is watching porn and masturbating 3 times a day and there WILL be suckers who buy into it. Between a site that tells you lies about PRCs vs another that says bulimia and anorexia are good for you, I think there would be stronger justification to ban the latter, when actual lives are at stake.

Speaking of lies, STOMP should be grateful to MDA for their ‘light touch’ policy then, especially after the SPH-owned portal posted a fake article about a faulty MRT door, and ‘making a quick buck’ out of such fabrications at the expense of our beloved SMRT. Instead of adopting a ‘slash-and-burn’ approach to weeding the internet of pesky sites, the authorities should embark on a proper literacy program to cultivate critical thinking and discretion when reading online material. Shutting down entire sites just because you disapprove of some of the content is simply caveman enforcement, the kind that thumps you into submission first before involving any higher brain activity to prevent future victims from falling for such nonsense elsewhere i.e without planning ahead.

People for centuries have been, and will always be, seduced by all kinds of fictitious bullshit for as long as the written word exists, whether it’s on papyrus or on an iPad. Today, we call most of these ‘advertisements’. TRS already has its fair share of vocal opponents, including ministers dying to file defamation suits. Purging it entirely without giving users the chance to critique and challenge its content like one trading blows with a sparring partner is, in government-speak, a ‘missed opportunity’ for internet literacy, and MDA itself, to evolve. We should learn how to tame the growing beast of social media without cracking a thicker whip every time it roars.

Amos Yee getting a tight slap in the face

From ‘Amos Yee assaulted on way to court, now in remand’, 30 April 2015, article by Eileen Poh, CNA

There was drama at the courtroom as blogger Amos Yee was struck in the face as he walked to the State Courts for a pre-trial conference on Thursday (Apr 30). As Yee walked to the court house, a middle-aged man in a red shirt, ran up to him and hit him, while shouting. The man then ran off. The teenager’s left eye looked slightly bruised after the attack.

…Yee was remanded after the pre-trial conference, as he refused to set his blog posts to private. He had earlier flouted bail conditions by publishing two posts on his blog. His lawyer Alfred Dodwell said the teen feels very strongly that he has not done anything wrong with his posts.

It was a slap that was heard all around the internet. The assault was vicious, but awkward at the same time, and it appears that both Amos and his assailant both need psychiatric assessment in IMH, one for oppositional defiant disorder and the other for psychosis. Maybe the boy should have defended himself with a half-eaten banana, and give the attacker the slip. Or you could say the attacker was preparing Amos for the hard life to come behind bars if he persists in disobeying the law, hence doing him an actual favour.

Contrast the treatment of Amos outside the courts to how others flocked to support and shield a certain millionaire pastor some years back, protecting the man from anyone wanting to strike him in the face for unleashing ‘China Wine’ into the world. Amos had nobody to stave off random attacks. Not his compassionate bailor, not his pro-bono lawyers, not the reporters blissfully recording the entire scene on their phones, not even his own parents. Random slapper, have you no shame? Are you the kind of guy who goes around flashing and massaging your genitals in front of women and then scurry away? If you go up and kick a Mediacorp reporter in the butt, will he turn around and film the entire ordeal in place while you skip away giggling?

Law Minister Shanmugam has clarified that the charge of making disparaging remarks against the late LKY were to be ‘stood down’, meaning that Amos will be judged firstly for his Christianity rant and obscene posting of LKY and Margaret Thatcher in a cartoon tryst. If the boy were to write an autobiography, it would probably be called ‘Breaking Bail’, and I have no doubt that it would be a bestseller, either by his closet fans, or extremist Christians who’ll purchase them in bulk just so that can burn it. Amos, try penning your thoughts in a draft for a future book rather by publishing them on a blog for a change. It’ll probably work better than begging kind hearted strangers for money through ‘crowdfunding’. People are bound to feel cheated if they had donated to your legal funds only for you to screw things up, so no surprise if someone vents his frustration on you in the most bizarre way possible.

Slapping the face isn’t going to wake Amos up, that’s for sure, even if many commentators felt it was ‘long overdue’. Others condemn it as child violence. You can’t take either side without sounding like a hypocrite though; for example, one may cringe in horror at the child-beating scene in Ilo Ilo, but get a Schadenfreude orgasm just watching a stranger smack the shit out of the foul-mouthed, Jesus-mocking twerp that is Amos Yee Pang Sang. Or you could be the sort who would call the police if your kid’s teacher physically drags him out of class, yet cry foul when Amos is beaten around like a ragdoll. Imagine how LKY would feel witnessing this media circus from above, shaking his head at how Singaporeans are fixated with the antics of a very naughty boy, rather than going to the National Museum to stare at his red box.

Let’s hope the slapper gets hauled in nonetheless. If you can get charged for spitting at people, I’m sure you’re not getting away with random slapping. Let this also serve as a warning to anyone looking to infiltrate the state courts grounds with a pair of garden shears. Yes, I’m talking to you, Cookie Tan. (Ironically a police report has been filed against Cookie for threatening to emasculate Amos…a now Famous Amos).

UPDATE 1May 2015: Amos’ attacker was arrested on May Day. At 49, the guy is almost as old as Singapore #SG50.

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