Freedom of speech

You know, I’ve always known that I could write anything that I’ve wanted on this blog.

But I don’t.

As a journalist with SPH, I couldn’t blog about the stories I did, because I didn’t want to leak secrets or hurt the feelings of newsmakers. Some of my stories could do great good, or great harm, depending on which camp you fell into, and I was never comfortable with the level of responsibility wielded with a mere pen.

More frightening was the fact that the person that you mention today on your blog for some innocent reason, may end up being your boss in the distant future with a huge chip on his/her shoulder.

Now as a PR professional (a line I never thought I’d join, given my grim view of the industry as a journalist) with an MNC, I face even more restrictions. Which topic will I blog about impact my working life? If I blast the Gahmen today, what happens if I have to end up working with this particular agency I’m not happy about? What happens if I blow a potential IT partnership because I didn’t like a product that I just bought? What if? What if?

Well, the possibilities are infinite.

And really, I don’t really know who reads my blog apart from regular commentators like Jocelyn, Yiqi, Germaine and a few others. The folks at Edelman do drop by sometimes to do some online research (yeah, I’m an unwitting test subject), and I know some Gahmen people drop by regularly. Plus a heck of a lot of people who are searching for Wiggles pix or just some screenshot I happen to post here.

So yeah, you get my drift.

But this is an issue I don’t think about too much because I don’t have so much time to blog nowadays. I’m also leaning towards the view that if you can’t take someone’s frank opinion (and Frank is my middle name), then you shouldn’t be reading so widely either. Go read the media which fill your appetite, or the reports which satisfy your curiosity, but see no other evil, hear no other evil.

Easier said than done, of course. People will jump on any information or article they feel is unfair, skewed, biased and every other semantic translation of the same word. People will seek to defend themselves against opinions which paint them in a bad light. Bla bla bla.

Especially the older generation who don’t understand blogs or the Internet.

Now the statement above is incredibly sweeping and sounds very unfair, but it all depends on your perspective. I believe utmostly that above a certain age group, most of the people in that category fail to grasp what the Zeitgeist of the current age is, and the medium which carries it.

I’ve met people who pay the Internet lip service, and try to apply old ideas to new structures. Naturally, it’s futile and self-defeating. Can you print millions of books using handwriting? Can you explain 3D with 2D?

"You can’t fault them for trying", you say. Indeed, better to try than not to.

But (and "but" is one of my oft-used words) do they try to understand? Do they try to swim in the waves that wash to shore, or do they stand at the edge of the beach, point outwards and exclaim "New media!"

This post was originally meant to be an anti-Gahmen rant on the Affective Divide, but that is futile too. The powers that be, do not understand, and may not be able to. To rant against them online is to shout at a wall, to bang one’s fist against sand, to wash ink and try to make it clear.

What will bring change? What will bring understanding?

As a Christian, and not a good role model either, it is God who brings understanding to all men.

But to secular men, that is not a good reason (though it’s the perfect one).

The secular world runs on logic, runs on emotions, and runs on processes. But with all logical, emotional and processor-dependent actions, the comfort zone is reached rapidly, leading to my most loathed state of apathy. Change does not come with apathy, and apathy leads to atrophy. Atrophy leads to destruction, decay and death.

Overcome apathy today, make a small change in your life every day and see big things happen tomorrow! God helps us, but we’ve got to make the choice first.

So where do you want to go tomorrow?

7 Replies to “Freedom of speech”

  1. Thank you for your revelation that, as a journalist with SPH, you couldn’t blog about the stories you did. That is understandable as a professional, since there is a separation of official and unofficial obligations. But to reason that you didn’t want to leak secrets or hurt the feelings of newsmakers is questionable. Suppose Watergate was hushed up, would Nixon still complete his stay in office? Closer to home, if you were to come across information that something is amiss in the governance of Singapore, would you stay silent? If you knew the reason the torch for the Beijing Olympics bypassing Singapore, would you stay silent? There is an unprecendented groundswell of discontent over the handling of the Mas Selamat debacle because thinking Singaporeans saw through the layer of lies and distortions. Should all Singaporeans discard their powers of reasoning that separates them from apes just because a coterie of self proclaimed elites has a stranglehold on the island? Is hope dead? Martin Luther King’s dream that a desert of disparity can turn into an oasis of hope is realisable, if we want it enough to fight for it.

  2. To be vocal needs practice and the courage to overcome the ‘fear’ of being ostracised by our society. Just remember that our society as a disfunctional family and over time, being vocal becomes second nature. As a person, you will become stronger and when you need to deal with important issues such as family relationships, work, government and politics, you are able to handle these appropriately. However, with more knowledge about our disfunctional society, there are times that you wish you could stick your head into the ground like an ostrich and hope that everything will be better in the future. But it hasn’t happened. We, the people of Singapore have to make it happen. Not the Malaysians, Americans, British or the Westerns. But we ourselves, one step at a time.

  3. Hi Daniel,

    My only response is that you should work as a journalist to understand where I’m coming from. Any other answer from me is pretty futile as most people have set ideas on what journos should do. And I won’t respond further to your query either because it’ll probably descend into a long-drawn debate.

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