Saturday, 8 June 2013

For posterity #FreeMyInternet@Hong Lim Park

Yes, I did this. None of the photos belong to me.
I’m planning to be at Hong Lim Park from 4pm today. It’s a three hour investment, which I’d much rather spend in many other ways, so I guess I better pen down for posterity, ‘what was I thinking?’

#FreeMyInternet (#FMI) protesters in Singapore tend to get lumped into all sorts of different categories.

The government, or at least the ones that are publically quoted, seem to think #FMIers are either
a) overreacting and upsetting the status quo (i.e. the shit stirrer image), or
b) just need an outlet to vent (i.e. the cry fathermother image)

The participating online community, and there’s no shortage of comments posted online, are either
a) bastions of the freedom of expression (i.e. unrealistic idealist image)
b) protesting the absence of engagement (i.e. I’m angry because you didn’t invite me to the meeting!)

The mainstream media thinks the whole protest doesn’t exist. I’m exaggerating, but only slightly. SPH and Mediacorp’s absence is can only be explained by a) coercion (bor ji), b) cowardice (hum ji), or c) incompetence (pua ji).

To be fair, the government clearly has mainstream media’s balls in an ice-kachang machine. Cheong Yip Seng’s memoir explains it way better than my balls-in-a-dessert-machine analogy.

So why will I be there?

I’m not sufficiently annoyed to be angry, not sufficiently idealistic enough to think the protest will actually achieve much, nor sufficiently symbol-minded to think I’m making some statement about the state of freedom in death-penalty Disneyland.

Still, I think it’s important as Singapore’s online community negotiates its relationship with the world offline. If you take a global view, it’s a continuation of a trend that includes Occupy Wall Street, Arab Spring, Gezi Parki, and more relevantly, SOPA and PIPA.

Incidentally, Singapore signed the pending ACTA treaty, so it’s not like there was no foreshadowing of the approach of the MDA. The difference is ACTA was done on a global scale, with no consultation with international civic groups, yet there was little global outcry. So it’s an established trend: governments are finding ways to legitimize their claim to the internet staking out their domain, so to speak, and the law is a key tool to mark boundaries.

The key question for me is how the interaction between these two communities will play out. So I’m curious at best, which is a nice way of saying I’m bloody kaypoh.

Plus, I like my Youtube unfiltered please. 

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