Tag Archive | "gazetting"

The Online Citizen will carry on

The Online Citizen will carry on

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But the prospects of registering and being gazetted is a reality they will grudgingly accept.

By Terence Lee

Red is hardly the right colour to use if you want to tell readers to stay calm. So we changed it to blue. Taken without permission.

YOU KNOW how it’s like to work under a terrible paymaster. You’re only staying on because you believe in the work you’re doing. Just ask the journalists at the Singapore Press Holdings or MediaCorp, who frequently grumble about the censorship that occurs within the newsroom.

The analogy, while imperfect, describes the situation facing The Online Citizen, a prominent socio-political blog in Singapore. Just today, they announced that they will carry on despite being gazetted by the Prime Minister’s Office. They will also register with the Media Development Authority.

But TOC is still taking a combative stance: They have written to the Prime Minister requesting to reverse his decision. If that fails, they will demand further explanation from him.

“We believe that the decision to gazette was unreasonable, arbitrary and incorrect, and was borne of political paranoia,” said the press release.

It added: “We are not sure what his response will be. While we remind the Prime Minister of his promise for a more open Singapore, we will not hold our breath.”

P N Balji, the former editorial director at MediaCorp, does not see registration as a death knell for The Online Citizen.

“If TOC believes in what it is doing, then it should not give up. It will face a squeeze on funding. But that is life in Singapore,” said the veteran journalist, who used to run The New Paper and later Today.

He also believes that TOC can still continue operating as usual, including reporting about the upcoming General Elections. They might have to watch their backs though.

Registration might bring an eventual end to this unofficial blacklist against TOC, since it has acquired some form of legitimacy as a result. The government may become more willing to engage in an organisation that has legal presence.

“I see this as a warning sign,” he said of the government’s actions. “It is a signal to TOC that it will act if it has to.”

Balji acknowledged that the government’s message may have been flawed. And people will invariably ask: Why is TOC targeted and not others?

As if on cue, TOC’s latest press release raised the same point.

“These are issues everyone in Singapore talks about; things we all care about. If the very act of providing a platform, on which these topics can be given a good airing, is considered a jaunt into politics, then everyone in Singapore is a political association, every kopitiam on the island a political platform,” it mentioned.

So far, TOC is neither registered as a business or society. In fact, when it tried applying as a business in 2009, the application was rejected, and it was asked to register under the Societies Act instead.

Since then, they have not done so.

Attempts by TOC to reach out to the government have often been turn downed or gone unacknowledged. Most recently, when it invited the PAP to its Face to Face forum, they did not show up.

Past attempts to include the voice of the ruling party in its articles have also been rejected.

Registration might bring an eventual end to this unofficial blacklist against TOC, since it has acquired some form of legitimacy as a result. The government may become more willing to engage in an organisation that has legal presence.

Besides, clamping down further by suing TOC’s pants off may cost the government too much political capital.

Or maybe they are just waiting till after the General Elections.

Gazetting is not that serious, is it?

Gazetting is not that serious, is it?

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The Prime Minister’s Office’s intention of gazetting TOC is to… well, er, depending on who you ask.

By Belmont Lay

The Online Citizen celebrated its fourth anniversary last year. Recently, they got a belated birthday gift from the government.

NO, IT’S not like they were made to watch as their own scrota were set on fire.

And no, no one was forced to commit incest against their will.

And no again, I do not remember anyone being coerced to do line dancing in public.

Which is why I’m particularly puzzled as to why everyone in the cyber world is up in arms about The Online Citizen (TOC) being gazetted.

Is it that serious, really?

Yes, I agree, being gazetted actually means a few things on this island. You’ve done something noteworthy enough in this country to be noticed. You’ve got clout. You’re an opinion leader. And maybe, you might even be right sometimes.

And also, the elections are coming.

Plus, in the rare event Barack Obama decides to pop by for one of TOC events, I’m sorry, but he might no longer be able to add glamour with his attendance because he’s a foreigner.

True, the Gerald Giam advertisement on the website to purchase his book might have to go.

Reluctantly, the wealthy Hungarian-Jewish financier George Soros can never give TOC a million dollars of his spare change in donation through one of his tentacled institutes to promote media freedom and political openness in Singapore.

However, have no fear. As always, I’ve worked out the perfect solution: Put up a notice on TOC saying that it is indeed the end. Thank all the fans and contributors who have made this all worked out so well.

Because at the end of the day, TOC is finished. It is time to abandon it.

Then proceed to transfer all the old articles to another website called The Citizen Online (or Citizen Online The, if you are into that kind of humour) and stick up a URL and direct everyone there towards the new content and platform.

And you can still keep the gaudy colour scheme.

The Prime Minister’s Office would be exasperated at the sleight of hand, and it will take them another four years to have their successor gazetted.

With TOC no more and TCO or COT or whatever it’s called, free to do whatever it wants just like before, everyone inside the Internet will cheer and it’s a victory for the plebians.

But let’s say for the sake of argument, TOC registers as a political association. Then what?

We have for ourselves a Catch-22 situation: If TOC is no longer business-as-usual after the limitations are imposed as a result of the gazetting, the current incessant moaning, decrying and hullabaloo by netizens that the government is trying to quash dissent is justified.

If TOC does employ some wit and cunning and not be made worse off by the gazetting, they have withstood an attempt to squash it.

And if TOC can still maintain its regular reporting and analysis as before, being gazetted wasn’t such a big deal to begin with, was it?

So what is all the moaning, decrying and hullabaloo by netizens supposed to be about again?

As always, there is a point to all these rambling and here it is: In the parlance of the PMO, TOC is “gazetted”. In the lexicon of the virtual crowd, TOC are “victimised”. In TOC speak, they have been “martyred”.

My vocabulary suggests that they were merely “inconvenienced”.

Shrug. It. Off.