SEDITION CHARGES AGAINST TRS ARE BASELESS AND MUST BE DROPPED

Dear All Singapore Stuff,

The Government has charged the two people supposedly behind The Real Singapore (TRS) with 7 counts of sedition. It claims that they published seditious articles which promoted ill will and hostility between different races of people in Singapore. But these charges are entirely without foundation and they should be dropped.

Firstly, the Government has no proof that the articles actually promoted any ill will or hostility, all they have is a suspicion that it has the potential to do so. But that is not good enough. A three year sentence per charge is a serious thing. The Government cannot simply put people in prison just because it suspects that what they are doing may be harmful. It needs to have proof that these articles have directly led to the development of feelings of ill will or hostility, or that they have a very strong likelihood of causing that. However, so far, Singapore remains a peaceful society and the Filipinos, Chinese and Indians all live together in harmony.

Secondly, the Government cannot prosecute people based on the mere possibility that what they say might lead to hostility. If that were the case, then the Government can prosecute people for anything they say, since any speech always contains the possibility of leading to action—whether directed by that speech or not. I do not believe that this is the purpose of the Sedition Act.

Thirdly, the Government is accusing TRS of publishing views that are aired by other Singaporeans, so if anyone should be found guilty of publishing seditious comments, it should be the original writers of the emails that were sent to TRS. Furthermore, at least one STOMP article is identical to the TRS article. Why isn’t the Government cracking down on STOMP as well? This suggests that the Government’s actions may be politically motivated. There are also so many other instances in The New Paper, the mainstream dailies and STOMP where articles with the potential to cause ill will and hostility are frequently published. Why doesn’t the Government go after these people as well?

Finally, the Government’s prosecution of the two people who are supposedly behind TRS will have a negative impact on free speech because the move is widely seen as an attempt to silence an anti-Government website. Now people have to increase their self-censorship when it comes to issues of race and foreigners in order to stay out of trouble. Even if people have legitimate concerns to raise, they now have to consider whether they can get prosecuted for having the potential to cause ill will or hostility. This is even if they have no intention of doing so, and even if their comments are made in good faith. This is a step backwards for freedom of speech in Singapore.

Ronald Chan
A.S.S. Contributor

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