With regard to blogger Roy Ngerng’s recent legal episode, it is important for us to understand that Singapore courts have a genuine cause for thwarting the abuse of the constitutional right to freedom of speech (“Blogger Roy Ngerng found to have defamed PM Lee”; last Saturday).
If we were to allow anyone to write, post or publish unsubstantiated, inflammatory and disparaging comments about someone else, Singapore’s social stability could be greatly compromised.
In the United States, which values freedom of speech, a recent incident ignited much debate.
The National Rifle Association put out an advertisement depicting a mother who was killed after a home intrusion.
The narrator says: “The police can’t get there in time. How you defend yourself is up to you. It’s your choice. But Mary Landrieu voted to take away your gun rights. Vote like your safety depends on it. Defend your freedom. Defeat Mary Landrieu.”
Ms Mary Landrieu is a senator who voted for a gun control background check Bill. The claim that she would cause a rise in murder rates was based solely on a very narrow view of the issue.
Imagine if Singapore were to grant citizens a similar degree of freedom of speech. Would anyone still be safe from personal attacks?
With Singapore’s high smartphone penetration rate, a defamatory post could spread to hundreds of thousands of people within hours, with the potential to beget unnecessary public outrage and social unrest.
It is thus all the more important that the judiciary continues to uphold our moderate brand of freedom of speech.
Kennard Chan Yanting