Saturday, September 17, 2005

17 year old to face sedition charges

"In regulating the Internet, the MDA adopts a balanced and light-touch approach..The MDA also encourages industry self-regulation and public education efforts to complement its light-touch regulatory approach."
- Media Development Authority


Just 17, hate blogger charged

TODAY WEEKEND
17 Sept 2005

JUST four days after two men were charged with making racist remarks online, another blogger has joined their ranks.
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This one is only 17, but his remarks appeared to be at least as virulent as those made by the two men charged on Monday.
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Gan Huai Shi appeared in court on Friday, faced with seven charges under the Sedition Act for remarks he made between April 4 and July 16 this year.
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The target of his ire were Malays and Muslims.
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In some astonishing rants, he compared them to "rodents".
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He claimed he wanted to blow up Muslim holy sites and wrote that "the Malays must be eliminated before it is too late".
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He made insulting remarks about the community, most of which are not fit for publication. In his first entry Gan claimed that he was "extremely racist".
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Like Benjamin Koh Song Huat, 27, and Nicholas Lim Yew, 25, Gan faces charges under the Sedition Act where conviction under the first charge could result in up to three years' jail and subsequent offences up to five years.
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There have been concerns in many quarters that the Internet, which started as a platform for free speech, has, in some cases, evolved into a space for racist rants.
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Observers have pointed out that recent actions taken by the authorities could rein in such outpourings. — Loh Chee Kong

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When was the Sedition Act last used in Singapore?

Like many of the security laws in Singapore and Malaysia, including the one that allows for detention without trial, the Sedition Act was first passed by the Malayan Government under the British colonialists. Today, both countries still carries the legislation.

While the Malaysian Government regularly invokes the Sedition Act, which MM Lee Kuan Yew himself was almost a casualty 40 years ago, and still used today against the likes of Malaysiakini, Malaysia Today and blogger Jeff Ooi, it is unclear when the Sedition Act was last used in Singapore.

And then I came across this deft piece of research at mykel-ism.blogspot.com

"According to "Mallal's Digest : Legislation Citator, 1932 to 2003", a respected collection of all legal cases in Singapore and Malaysia published by the Malayan Law Journal in 2004, Singapore has not made use of the Sedition Act from 1965 to 2003. I suspect the charge of our 2 protagonists on Monday to be the first case in our nation's history. It's also interesting to note that the Undesirable Publications Act (Cap 338) and MDA content regulations were not used. The choice of the Sedition Act thus reveals the intention for calibrated coercion on the PAP's part.

Thus, the issue at hand is thus NOT about the boundaries of free speech in cyberspace, it is NOT about whether our two protagonists are bloggers or not, NOR is it the issue about the maintenance of racial and religious harmony in Singapore.

Rather, as Xenoboy contends, the use of the Sedition Act represents a symbolic dialogue between ruling party PAP and the Singaporean blogosphere. It is indicative of the surveillance present on the internet medium and the PAP's willingness to crush both offline and online dissenting views when the need arises.

The stakes are higher this time."

posted by mykel at mykel-ism.blogspot.com