INT.OFFICE - MR TEO'S CUBICLE - LATE AFTERNOON
Ah Tan knocked before he walked into Mr Teo's cubicle. Mr Teo was in the midst of a conversation with Ah Lui who was seated in front of his desk.
AH TAN: Sorry Sir, maybe I'll come back later.
MR TEO (gestering to the empty seat next to Ah Lui): No it's okay. I was about to ask Susan to go get you.
Ah Tan took the seat next to Ah Lui. He could see little droplets of perspiration forming on Ah Lui's forehead. Apparently a heated discussion was going on.
MR TEO: Have you surfed the net lately?
AH TAN (gasping): Er... the net... no, no Sir, what ever you've heard is not true! I don't surf net during office hours!
MR TEO: No, no, no... what I meant is... ah... Lui, why don't you brief Tan.
AH LUI: What's happening is that, after Seng was set on fire by that foolish ex-cabbie, people have been talking about that incident on forums, and alarmingly, majority of these people are leaving dreadful comments.
AH TAN: Geez! How unkind! What did they write?
AH LUI (sighing): Mainly on who are next on the list that should be burnt, and some even commented that Seng was not burnt badly enough.
AH TAN (drawing a breathe): And we're on the list?
AH LUI: Luckily, no.
AH TAN: What's wrong with these people? How can they treat us this way after all the good we've done for them?
MR TEO: It is a known fact that there are ungrateful people out there, lots of them, who are unappreciative for all the good we've done for them. But this is way overboard.
Both Ah Tan and Ah Lui nodded simultaneously.
MR TEO: We need to stop these people from being so arrogant. We need to take control of these people and make sure they behave themselves on the net!
AH LUI: Yes Sir, the internet is not an effective self-regulated regime. This is one place where we are unable to control how our people should behave! Look at the comments that were written on Seng's incident! Significant numbers of writings were unkind. A small number was downright outrageous. It's disappointing!
AH TAN (grunting): Ungrateful harebrained people!
AH LUI: And worse still, the rest of the internet community had not done enough to rebut some of these unhelpful comments delivered by fellow netizens! I mean... why isn't there any righteous one to speak up?
MR TEO: It's expected. Singaporeans are either too tamed, or most of the time, they simply don't care.
Both Ah Tan and Ah Lui sighed and shook their heads disgruntledly.
AH LUI: It is a squandered opportunity for a higher degree of self-regulation. It would have been an example of the genesis of the first step towards a more responsible, a greater self-regulatory regime. But many of those responses were not rebutted nor answered. And I think it is not healthy for some of those to remain on the net unchallenged, unquestioned, and unanswered.
AH TAN: Of course not!
AH LUI: Singapore need to develop a responsible cyberspace. Bloggers and website proprietors need to maintain credibility, while netizens should do more to establish and enforce the norms of acceptable online behaviour.
MR TEO: This is where we come into the picture.
Ah Lui paused and anticipated Mr Teo's profound suggestion.
MR TEO: We need to take control of Singapore's cyberspace. We need to know what are these people writing and we need to make sure that they are writing the right things. And Tan, that is why I need you here. Your previous suggestion of that association of bloggers was brilliant. I need you to join us here to brainstorm on how we can control Singapore's netizens.
Ah Tan looked down and entered into deep thought momentarily.
AH TAN (looking up): We need to work with the ISPs. We need to come up with a list of undesirable sites and hand it over to the ISPs and request them to block Singaporeans from these sites.
AH LUI: Good idea! Should we add to the list websites that support the opposition parties?
MR TEO: Lui, good suggestion, but that'll be too obvious! It'll be... politically incorrect.
AH LUI: Yes Sir...
MR TEO (looking at Ah Tan): Tan, that's a really good suggestion and I think we should implement it almost immediately. However there are still so many anti-government threads in forums all over the place, and it is just not feasible to block all of these forums.
AH LUI: Yes those forums! The comments found in the forums are far worse than what some bloggers write!
AH TAN: Hmm... how about we create a registry? Any Singaporen that wishes to start an online forum must be registered with the registry of say... Registry of Singaporean Forums.
AH LUI (punching left fist in air): Way to go!
Ah Tan gasped from the sudden excitement from Ah Lui.
MR TEO: But I think we should do more than this. We need the people to understand why we are controlling the cyberspace. We need them to know that it is for their own good. We need to educate them on the correct online behaviour.
AH TAN: Why don't we start a campaign? Say a... Behave Online Singapore! campaign? Maybe we can start a special committee for this? Print some posters to publicise correct online behaviour, give free courses on how to be a responsible and mature Singaporean netizen, and perhaps even request the TV station to write a drama on blogging the right way!
MR TEO (pounding the table): Yes! This is what I'm talking about!
Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts,MICA,Lui Tuck Yew,Singapore Parliament,cybertalk,Singapore netizens,Singapore internet community,self-regulation,cyberspace,acceptable online behaviour,Singapore bloggers