I’ve written about Yaw’s stupidity. But it seems he’s not been the only stupid one in recent days.
Richard Wan decided to show himself at some “face-off” with TOC and got slapped almost immediately with two lawyers’ letters threatening defamation suits for libellous content on TRE. One got the feeling they were just waiting for someone to serve the letters on.
One has to wonder, why mess with an operating model that works? Temasek Review was always a cowboy town where anybody could shoot his mouth off about the PAP and its excesses. Indeed, the editorials were usually more malicious than posters’ comments.
Temasek Review had run-in’s with Temasek Holdings several times, but they played hard to get because the website owners were not only overseas, but also anonymous shadowy figures.
So PAP and other establishment figures could never get their hands on them to seek redress. The nearest they got was Dr Joseph Ong, who supposedly founded Temasek Review, but they could not show that he was still running Temasek Review.
It worked well for Temasek Review. They were able to provide netizens the forbidden fruit, they could do what TOC could not, they had high readership, and they were able to earn advertising revenue off the anti-PAP sentiments.
But now Richard Wan has blown his own cover and thus the lawyers’ letters have started.
One has to ask, is it worth it? Now Richard has to watch every single comment, vet every single editorial—knowing full well that if he doesn’t, he could be sued to bankruptcy.
He never had to do that.
In return, what will he (or TRE) get? More ad revenue? More readership? More time to play golf? No, no, no!
Does anyone else also see a gazetting coming?
What a stupid move by Richard Wan!
Those who decry the recent lawyers’ letters from PM Lee, his brother Lee Hsien Yang and Law Minister Shanmugam as a reversal of the Govt’s “light touch” to Internet regulation are also very confused people.
First, Hsien Yang is not in the Govt (and not even in the PAP), and PM Lee and Minister Shanmugam are threatening to sue in their own names, not on behalf of the Cabinet or the Govt of Singapore.
Second, the “light touch” promised by the Govt refers to the way MDA and IDA propose to regulate Internet content and service providers. In other words, instead of building a great firewall as China has done for example, they’ve used voluntary codes of conduct (eg for internet email advertising).
Third, and most important, lawsuits are NOT regulatory actions of a Govt agency, so there is no basis to relate them to the “light touch” promised by the Govt.
Fourth, PAP leaders have never said they would have a “light touch” toward libel. They’ve always maintained that they will vigorously challenge any unsubstantiated allegations of fraud, misconduct, corruption, etc.
But the PAP leaders are also being very stupid in using early 20th century tactics in an online age.
You can force people to retract unsubstantiated allegations, but you also show yourself to be intolerant, oversensitive and vindictive. People find it hard to accept that you are a victim who has been hurt by libel and not a bully demanding compensastion. By suing people into submission, instead of addressing the root cause of these allegations openly, PAP leaders cannot really win over the people.
Why do some people allege that Ho Ching was not appointed on merit, for instance? There must be a reason. Is it just PAP’s political enemies out to spread false allegations? Or is it because the situation itself is hard for most people to swallow?
If people hold on to a belief—however false—that such GLC appointments are not made on merit, it will backfire on you in every election, even if people can’t talk about it.
The issue is therefore not about getting redress for your reputation or even being able to maintain your moral authority to hold political office.
It really is about whether Singaporeans believe in the Singapore system of how GLC’s appoints its top executives, and how it affects PAP’s election chances.
Are lawsuits the best way to deal with this issue? Or is it yet another stupid move by PAP leaders?