How media illiteracy is promoted

The Singapore government has just announced the formation of a Media Literacy Council. I will argue here that what the government has done over the last few decades is to promote media illiteracy. It serves their interests. Consequently, I am skeptical that they have found a new religion.

I will begin my argument by giving you a very specific example. It’s like this: On 25 July 2012, a story Foreign worker told: “If we kill you, there won’t be any witness” was published on the website of Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), an advocacy group and charity that seeks fair treatment for migrant workers. (Declaration of interest: I am on the executive committee of TWC2, and have direct oversight of the website. The article in question however was not written by me, but it was passed by me for publication.) In a nutshell, the story told of a worker from India who reported quite scandalous treatment by his employer. He was so aggrieved that it became unviable to continue in the job; he was even fearful for his life.

Through social media, readership of that article climbed exponentially. It was also highlighted by The Online Citizen on their Facebook page, on which were over 35 comments. Most expressed outrage at the treatment meted out to the worker, for example:

“Shame we treating them like we are in a third world country.”

“I hope MOM is seriously looking into the issue and giving this case further investigation than just superficial report. How about the other workers in the same company? . . . MOM shouldn’t sit idly by and allow mistreatment and human abuse of workers. . . “

“How come companies who abuse their workers are never penalised?”

“It’s always sad to hear stories like this and this modern day slavery or bonded labour where the workers are in a vulnerable position has to stop.”

However, one comment stood out. It came from Kien Lee who wrote:

“I believe a proper article covering this topic IS ONLY legitimate if the writer/reporter also does some research into whether the work conditions are indeed true. Take some pictures, add some real investigative reporting…. as it stands, it sounds much like one person’s word against another.”

[italics added by me; these phrases will be referred to below]

At the same time, Kien Lee wrote on TWC2′s Facebook page:

“What? So the TWC2 writer doesn’t need to do even a little investigation at all? I mean, he/she can go to said workplace and see if workers are indeed treated under such conditions and take some photos. Just because it’s online media doesn’t mean the journalism standard cannot be up to par. IMHO.”

[italics added by me; these phrases will be referred to below]

At first glance, Kien Lee’s comments sound completely reasonable. The standard that he has set appears unassailable; they sound like words of advice towards media literacy. But in my view, they are deceptively dangerous. They lead to uncritical minds and, yes, media illiteracy.

I’m not saying he is being uncritical. Quite the opposite. He is approaching the issue with a critical mind. It’s his prescription I take issue with. It’s his prescription that dulls the minds of others.

Journalism is not the only standard

The first error he is making is to fail to differentiate the various uses of media. In using the term “journalism standard”, he reveals that he saw no distinction between a corporate website like TWC2′s and a newspaper website. TWC2 is not a news organisation. It is an advocacy group, arguing certain points of view and highlighting evidence that it has that supports its point of view.

A better analogy for TWC2′s website would be websites of other advocacy groups such as Greenpeace, Save the Children or Amnesty International.

If others, especially opponents, have additional facts that serve their arguments, or have a different interpretation of the same facts, then it’s for them to publicise their point of view on THEIR website. Neither side has any obligation to provide the neutral, balanced reporting that Kien Lee was suggesting, because neither side is a newspaper (whether online or print). Greenpeace is not going to give equal space to why you should destroy natural habitats. Amnesty International is not going to give voice to death penalty enthusiasts.

Such websites have no need, no obligation to argue against themselves, to poke holes in their own theses. This is for others to do. Their obligation is to use reasonable tests to ensure that what they say is founded on evidence, and is not false. And if it is an opinion expressed, that opinion is grounded in reality (which, as I will explain below, Kien Lee’s opinion is not). The objective of such advocacy websites is to persuade.

TWC2 writers do test what they hear from workers. Stories should be supported by evidence, such as documents, records and injuries. They must be internally consistent and are often expected to parallel similar experiences of other workers in order to pass at least the smell test. But in any case, what is so illegitimate about giving people a voice? To let them tell their stories from their subjective point of view? If information is culled simply because there’s a lone voice with no corroboration yet, then we’re going to be poorer for it. Sometimes that lone voice is the first warning of trouble.

Taking photos and investigative reporting

Precisely because an advocacy group like TWC2 is not set up as a neutral news organisation, to expect its “reporters” to gain access to the employers’ place of business and “take some photos” is completely unrealistic. Few employers will let workers’ rights representatives in if they can help it. In fact, few employers would even let the mainstream media in to take pictures of their operations without prior appointment and first sanitising their spaces; what chance of advocacy groups and their volunteer reporters getting entry to take pictures of abuse going on?

To then say, oh because you haven’t gone undercover for investigative reporting, or you haven’t got the pictures to prove it, your story is not “legitimate”, is to set rules that are effectively impossible to overcome. By itself it creates a bias against the disempowered and their stories, because it’s the other side that controls entry into the workspace.

Why it’s deceptively dangerous

I said above that applying a prescription that all media (even corporate, political party or advocacy media) must be neutral, balanced and objectively proven is deceptively dangerous. Strong words? Let me tell you why I say so, starting with a diagram:

In demanding that all media must aim to be balanced and neutral, one will in effect be expecting media to aggressively filter information for readers. A readership weaned on such media is dulled. He lazily expects media to have filtered out unreliable or illegitimate information and thus to tell him the “truth” — as if there is only one knowable truth.

The government’s decades-old rhetoric about licensed mainstream media being more “trustworthy” and online citizen media being full of “half-truths” and rumours is part of this conditioning process.

In Model 2, different media carry different facts, interpretations of facts and viewpoints. Few pretend to be neutral and balanced, or for that matter “objective” — another buzzword from our ministry of propaganda. In such an environment, the reader hones his own critical faculties. He judges information and thinks for himself.

If Model 1 is bad enough, a corruption of it, shown here as Model 3, is worse. It is when a population is dulled into trusting filtered reports, but in actual fact, there is a hidden bias in the filtering. As indicated diagrammatically, the green and lavender facts are poorly represented by the “balanced” media. But the reader may not realise it, and has little access  to the raw information to correct his views — given a prevailing media landscape that frowns on, and a social environment that delegitimises, partisan media.

This is why I say all these ardent calls for balance, objectivity or neutrality are trojan horses for the closing down of minds. We should revel in highly partisan media, for the truism is this:  A challenging environment sharpens our adaptive skills; too much spoonfeeding of pre-digested mush leads to mental flabbiness.

The constant calls for only a certain kind of media practice should be seen for what they are — the road to illiteracy.

29 Responses to “How media illiteracy is promoted”


  1. 1 yuen 1 August 2012 at 04:57

    >A challenging environment sharpens our adaptive skills; too much spoonfeeding of pre-digested mush leads to mental flabbiness.

    that may be so, but Kien Lee is not advocating that; he merely wanted Online Citizen to follow better reporting practice; you can argue that TWC2 should not be measured by such standard, but whether Online Citizen should be is a debatable issue – TOC is presumably not an advocacy group like TWC2

    as a former NUS professor, I can testify that students generally prefer “spoonfeeding of pre-digested mush”, but that is no excuse for their teachers to indulge them; whether that is also true for the country as a whole, and whether there are people who prefer it that way, is for Straits Times to discover then let us know

  2. 2 john 1 August 2012 at 05:20

    There should be a 4th model, where there are many medias that a reader can take in, most people are too lazy, not critical enough or choose to see what they believe in for 2nd model to exist. The 4th model should be most ideal, because no sole media will truly be neutral, but a group of them should ‘average’ things out. In Singapore’s context, the 3rd model is very true, though its improving in incrementing steps.

  3. 3 Jonathan 1 August 2012 at 08:11

    Unfortunately, one cannot speak truth to stupid.

  4. 4 Saycheese 1 August 2012 at 08:47

    We have a nation building MSM that report with a bias in favour of the ruling party. If readers want the TRUTH, how about getting the news from PRAVDA?, the Russian version of the absolute truth?

    The PAP wants balance, neutrality and objectivity. If Mediacorp and SPH can provide balance, neutrality and objectivity and not what the rulers want, our MSM will have been the best a long time ago and not remain the PAP’s Numero Uno.

  5. 5 ape@kinjioleaf 1 August 2012 at 09:28

    I think the only role MLC should undertake is to educate READERS… first lesson being ‘Don’t believe everything you read’. Second lesson, ‘If in doubt, you’re on the right track’. Third lesson ‘Don’t be lazy and expect others to provide full facts and evidence… even official and authority websites don’t tell you everything, served on a silver platter.’

  6. 6 Enough Govt Already 1 August 2012 at 09:58

    I don’t want or need a government media filter to tell me
    a. what is good for me.
    b. how I should think or feel
    c. what I should do

    I can filter the information out for myself.
    Please use our taxpayers money to hire more Singaporean teachers and reduce class room sizes.

    Education and a critical mind is the best media filter for mis-information and government propaganda.
    Not more government.

    • 7 crythebelovedcountry 2 August 2012 at 22:40

      So agree with you. Although I have been reading ST since young, over the years, I have come to realise that all published materials are much edited.

      Yes, build more schools, reduce class size and have good local teachers. Why are we building more and more private houses for the rich to push up the prices.

      The govt has got their priorities all mess up!

  7. 8 Kirsten Han (@kixes) 1 August 2012 at 12:05

    Claiming “objectivity” or “neutrality” is simply an illusion. When writing/reporting, one can strive to be fair and balanced, but to be completely objective is simply implausible. The fact that it’s a human being processing all the research and data and weaving it into an article alone destroys the possibility of completely objectivity or neutrality. Writers are not data processing machines; we write based on our own observations, our connection with the people we’ve interviewed (which often influences the sort of answers we get), our past experiences and understanding of the issue and the context. How can we expect people to somehow shut all that out and just churn out an article worth reading?

    Because we only have ONE national English-language broadsheet that’s touted as “objective” and “neutral” and THE “trustworthy” source, we’ve taught Singaporeans to expect that this is what we should expect from the media – one source that we should believe in and trust completely.

    When I first went to study overseas I remember being confused about the number of newspapers available and asking a friend about it.
    Me: “Wait, what? There’s more than one paper? Isn’t that kind of unnecessary?”
    Friend: “Oh, that paper is kind of more right-wing. This one is more left. These are more regional/local-based, so they see things from the town’s perspective.”
    Me: “How are you supposed to be able to know which one is the right one?”
    The look I got. So embarrassing.

    Singaporeans have not really been taught to question every source and to examine motives and agendas. We don’t corroborate sources WITH each other; we’re told to corroborate sources TO one thing that is supposed to be the Truth, when what it really is is a government-approved narrative.

  8. 9 passerby 1 August 2012 at 12:30

    One problem with Model 2, as I see it, is that many people will happily accept misinformation, or information that accords only with their pre-existing convictions, rather than critically analysing what they perceive. This is the same regardless of media source: you can have complacent citizens ingesting the government’s spin on latest statistics, and you can have the blindly indignant parroting outright lies. The latter certainly happens a lot in the Facebook threads of certain citizen journalism websites.

  9. 10 whyigiveup 1 August 2012 at 13:06

    Hi, I’d like to point out something. In Model 2, you have assumed that the reader actually consumes media from all 5 different sources, all with their own partisan beliefs relatively unfiltered and undiluted. But in reality, do most people consume that many different media sources? They most likely read from a maximum of 3-4 regular publications everyday – and the choice of these readings are heavily biased by personal preferences, political outlook, religion, culture, etc. Any viewpoints from other publications they do not regularly read will therefore be excluded from the reader’s critical faculties. They won’t even enter their consciousness. I think it’s called the echo chamber effect.

    The problem is only compounded by the way google works nowadays. If you’ve previously read some article online from a few sources, your next few searches on a similar topic will yield results that prioritise those same sources on top. So unless you bother to click on pages 2 or 3 or further down in your results, or specifically change your search keywords, you are going to be honing your critical faculties on what effectively amounts to the same view points again and again. Sure, you will be judging the information and thinking for yourself, but this is based on incomplete information. It would be like withholding some evidence from a jury and asking them to pronounce judgement.

    I do admit though that Models 1 and 3 are infinitely worse than Model 2. To me it seems the problem with Model 2 is one of freedom of choice. Whilst readers are free to choose to read as many diverse publications as possible, they are also free to choose only one or two. It might be true that “A challenging environment sharpens our adaptive skills”, but I would add that too much information can lead to a mental lethargy – a mindset where we end up swatting away those irritating bits of data that don’t fit into our worldview conveniently.

  10. 11 Shawn 1 August 2012 at 13:23

    Alex the point you made about TWC2 being an advocacy group is a very valid one especially since it addresses Kien’s demand that it practice investigative journalism and poke holes it its own arguement. Kien runs a fashion and events site. I find it ironic that he comes in and demands a hard news piece from an advocacy group when he himself doesn’t practice any on his own site. Perhaps Mr Lee should stick to talking about what strumpet is outrageously wearing today rather than demand that advocacy groups become their own news desks.

  11. 12 a kind of chicken 1 August 2012 at 13:39

    Kudous again. A beautifully argued essay.

    I love the positioning and subtility of it

  12. 13 Tan Tai Wei 1 August 2012 at 13:50

    The truth is that a “balanced, objective view of things” is best arrived at the end, and not at the start of enquiry, at which the more “open”, vigorous and diverse, the better. So, to lay it as a rule that one should have the truth even before one should voice a point of view is to promote dogmatism rather than rational enquiry. Worthwhile “consensus” is more likely to occur at the end and not at the start of discussions. That is why I have had occasions during my professional life where I had to laugh at VIPs in a certain Management Board who were proud to proclaim they were going by the “Asian” value of deciding by “consensus and not confrontation” when they refused to discuss but only acceded to every item on the agenda!
    That said, we must also say that does not mean it’s worthwhile for anything at all to be expressed, through internet or elsewhere. Whatever is said in the name of true and worthwhile “freedom” must always be duly considered and thought-through, although not as yet mooted as the objective truth. Where all considered diverse claims to truth have been duly heard and sufficiently mutually scrutinised and appraised, then it would be rational for fallible beings like ourselves to assume we have come as close to the right as we can. Even here, we must still be open to review on account of possible errors remaining, or new developments nullifying past appraisals.

  13. 14 Nick Lim 1 August 2012 at 14:13

    A very well written essay. Always a joy to read.

  14. 15 aphid 1 August 2012 at 15:12

    Bravo.

    The govt has not thought thru this issue – as it has not thought through Far too many issues. So much so, one is these days left wondering if it thinks at all!!

    Will the new council make sure that we will not have Vivian B’s allusion/claim – in the MSM – that that water collection thinggy for orchard was planned Decades ago??!! That’s its part of the govt’s ability to look ahead?! Will the offender/s be severely rapped?

    (BTW, what happened to this ability when it came to making provision in infrastructure for the ginormous increase in population? Did it cross anyone’s mind that almost doubling the population in 15 yrs would impact on the nation’s social fabric?)

    How about that little matter that HDB flats have not shrunk over the last 15 years, a point in time when the last big shrinkage in size was done?

    Can we be assured that the PAP magazine, Petir, does not claim in its report on the bye-election that all was disorder in the WP camp but leave out the loud protests over Teo Chee Hen’s statements made during campaigning, which it did? That is a balanced report?

    The knife cuts both ways, but will it be allowed to?

    And why is the PAP/govt so afraid of dissenting views, reports of fracases here and there? Reports which actually barely scratch the surface of the unpleasantness that is Really going on these days. Should these incidents all be stuffed into a dark cupboard until that cupboard explodes? Like the current popn issue. Is that better? Is that responsible?

    Vivian B should consider removing the cataracts in the eyes of his party members, instead of making claims that make his party look untrustworthy.

  15. 16 Daniel 1 August 2012 at 15:54

    Your reasoning and logic are really head and shoulders above the rest. Very impressed.

  16. 17 Alvin Chang (@fozzie3ear) 1 August 2012 at 16:14

    Alex, I’d argue that highly partisan and unfiltered views give rise to radicalisation and easy indoctrination of minds to thoughts/ideas which could be stupid, discriminatory, or worse, racist, intolerant, etc, etc.

    Not everyone is capable of independent thought, no?

  17. 18 For our future's sake 1 August 2012 at 17:22

    This is indeed scary. Where are we going to get the whole truth? Where are we going to get real investigative work? The recent Nparks bike fiasco should wake the 60.1% up, that you jus can’t depend on your local media.

    Local media is good for news around the neighbourhood.

  18. 19 Tsumujikaze no Soujutsu 1 August 2012 at 19:57

    At the end of the day, media is a product by human beings. Is it flawed? Yes. Does it require a decent brain to filter the lies out? Even more so. I’ve already gained a distrustful attitude towards all media because of this. Yes, I can take on board what is being said. But not before I do my own thinking. And the scariest thing of them all? SG isn’t alone and it won’t be the last as well.

    P.S: Funnily enough, Kien Lee’s argument doesn’t hold much water based on integrity alone. Simply put, he could have done his own reasoning rather than saying “this is a fake”.

  19. 20 swh 1 August 2012 at 20:46

    This post is about how best do we harness the literacy of the general populace, and whether the mainstream media/advocacy groups etc. should be the ones doing it.

    I agree with your whole point under the heading of taking photos and investigative reporting. Also, I hesitantly agree with you on the idea of how advocacy groups have no obligation to attack their own theses or go into a freaking Philosophy 101 discussion with regard to their causes. However, my view at the very least is that it should be ready to counter and answer any reasonable, non-personal argument made against it. Just to prevent looking defensive etc.

    Now on to the point on mainstream media, that shall be the main focus of discussion in my post.

    You are right in pointing out the possibility of insidious bias within media – that by pretending to be neutral and presenting multiple POVs, article writers may use subtle tactics (intentionally or unconsciously) such as over/under-emphasising of certain points, diction, vocabulary used to emotionally manipulate people without them knowing it. And skilful writers will be able to do so. On that note, I agree with you on that possible danger of pretended objectivity.

    However, there is one key assumption you make in Model 2 which I find very problematic – that readers would diligently search up multiple articles with different POVs to get a “holistic picture”. Why I say that this assumption is highly flawed?

    1. Internet and Globalization – The vast improvements in technology and increased accessibility means that people are receiving so much more news feeds in a shorter span of time. When people look at news, they usually just take a quick glance at the first article they find on, say, Google News or Yahoo News and read it, and then move on to the next article.

    2. Busy People – Working class people especially don’t usually spend more than 10 mins mulling over a single article, at least my parents don’t lol. And business is a real issue here, your argument lies on the premise that (1) people can be free to immerse themselves in different paradigms of thinking and then after that (2) think very critically over a cup of tea and (3) arrive at their conclusion. This is, an ideal process, yes, but is it practical given the schedule and commitments of our society? I say no. Hence, I don’t think your suggestion is necessarily the most time-effective way of making the general populous think critically.

    What does 1 and 2 entail? Less time spent on each event happening, more likely to be influenced by the “first or second article read”. Granted, it’s a slippery slope argument, but my focus here is not on the extent of influence to a reader, but the possibility. And to that, I say it’s high.

    My third argument, lies on the nature of the human condition. People read what they want to believe – people often have their own bias, thoughts etc. of a certain issue and it’s not easy to change that, and more often than not – THEY OFTEN AUTOMATICALLY GRAVITATE THEMSELVES TO NEWS SOURCES WHICH SUPPORT THEIR POV.

    Do I have evidence for this? I’m sorry, no. But, as a generalization, perhaps we can take a look at visitors to the majority of the visitors to the pages and fb sites of Temasek Review, the Online Citizen etc. whereby, let’s face it, are clearly anti-establishment, and have some disturbingly assertion-based reporting, which is clearly not critical. Perhaps, even your blog, which bears an anti-establishment pov (albeit one which is more critical and meaningful than the abovementioned) is frequented by people who are like-minded on issues like LGBT rights, Freedom of Info act, Foreign workers rights etc. like you are, and you yourself mentioned in a previous post about some survey on single parent adoption rights or sth (I didn’t really look at that post) that you accept the assumption that “most of your blog viewers are liberal”.

    And therefore, given that we see such a problem already in the status quo, wouldn’t a highly subjective pool of media make things worse for people who already have a pre-conceived viewpoint?

    To address the above problems, I will not go so far as to say that we should encourage a highly bipartisan media, but rather a media which (1) constantly presents as many povs as possible to weigh the various opinions and explaining why the opinion undertaken in the said article is adopted, and (2) to have a more active comments section featuring useful alternative povs with regard to the initially published article so that readers can have a wider perspective.

    The basic requirement that I would like to see for in ANY standard, journalism, advocacy groups or otherwise is good argumentation. There are tons of crappy articles, tabloids etc. out there which feature articles that damage peoples’ reputation, post half/un-truths etc. and these articles have poor assertive based arguments. Hence, even without proper evidence like investigative reports, I believe in good argumentation and logical or emotional justification to back up claims.

  20. 21 Erica 1 August 2012 at 21:13

    A well-reasoned piece that is difficult to disagree with. However I am puzzled by the use of the terms literacy and illiteracy in this context. Is this some uniquely Singaporean meaning, as, so far as I am aware, literacy is simply the ability to read and write?

  21. 22 OldSingaporean 1 August 2012 at 21:28

    Ah… so that’s how the mainstream media kept Singaporeans media illiterate all this while and now the power that be wants to replicate that success in the new media as well through the innocuously sounding Media Literacy Council. Come to think of it, the name seems similar to the misdirection used in a magic show. Sneaky.

  22. 23 george 1 August 2012 at 21:59

    ” The constant calls for only a certain kind of media practice should be seen for what they are — the road to illiteracy. ”

    Aka propaganda in overdrive?

    Succinct and sharp as usual , Alex.

    Thanks

  23. 24 indeterminate 1 August 2012 at 23:48

    Hi,

    While you make good points, you neglect to consider the fact that people read only what they want to read. So the natural tendency is that people end up only reinforcing their own opinions by rejecting opposing views outright without any consideration.

    Thus, while Model 2 looks good in theory, it will end up creating a populace of extremists, unable to appreciate the views of others.

    I’m not doom mongering here. What you suggest has basically been implemented in the US, where several news outlets (e.g. Fox News) have become partisan mouthpieces. Under this regime, the nation has become gripped in gridlock and dissension, and ideologues are free to twist facts to suit their own views.

    How else would you explain the fact that around 36% of Republican voters in the US are willing to claim that President Obama is a Muslim? (http://www.examiner.com/article/poll-seventeen-percent-say-obama-is-a-musliml)

    Much as I would like to see improvements to our conventional media, I think this idea would only end up creating fact-free echo chambers, degrading our political discourse. A far better alternative is to create a truly independent conventional media.

  24. 25 deheuty@yahoo.com 1 August 2012 at 23:52

    Ohh…. very deftly written… lol your insinuations were not wasted on me. Some of your models are adopted by dictatorial regimes for good reasons – control of the media controls what the ruling power would have the population believe and make them more easily manipulated. It is a classic strategy – see North Korea and PRC.

    If a govt’s policies are defensible then they are open to public scrutiny and there would be no fear of whatever people in the social media discuss. Indefensible govt policies are often shrouded in incomplete information disclosure. It is obvious Singapore belongs to which.

  25. 26 Chow 2 August 2012 at 09:06

    As others have mentioned we tend to justify or unconsciously accept the evidence that affirms our current worldview so there is very little one can do in terms of getting people to arrive at the ‘truth’ simply by having a one-stop-truth-reporting media or even a multiplicity of unfiltered sources. My opinion is that the best case is to have either the former or latter. Unfortunately presenting the truth without bias often makes for poor reading because only facts and data will be presented and the conclusions, including the statistics and inferences, must be left to the reader. It is also quite impossible to get rid of the human factor where bias creeps in through editing, collection, and representation of facts. Because of this my opinion is therefore to have the multiplicity of media sources. While some of us will be at the extremes, most will naturally fall in the middle. Even the media sources will have the extremes and, by extension, there will be sources that will present a relatively fairer and more balanced reports that adequately covers both sides most of the time.

  26. 27 Chow 2 August 2012 at 09:19

    Some commenters have also highlighted the risk of having Fox News style of reporting and thereby implicitly endorsing a single source the ostensibly reports the truth. That is really not an ideal case because it is really laying the grounds for a Foxesque news reporting. Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch and he has a vast media empire controlling many, many newspapers as well as tv channels. This is why it is possible for him to dominate the airwaves and print and thereby reach a much larger audience with his own personal slant in the news. This would really be much more difficult should there be many many indpendent sources that people can turn to. The US is in a gridlock because of the refusal to compromise and a sharply differing ideology between both parties. The media helps to perpetuate this stalemate but I hardly think it started it. A single source is liable to be taken over by vested interest and when that happens, where does it leave us and how sure are we it continues to report the ‘truth’ and in what form?

  27. 28 Francis 2 August 2012 at 11:32

    Just a point to remember. Each time the PAP decide to change the title of a ministry, it cost thousands to have stationary printed etc. It’s not a cheap excerise.
    We are niave if we think that many employers in Singapore do not mistreat their foreign workers. Even if the proof hits some “monkeys” in the face they will deny it. We have so many examples of this. Years back when social media was in its infancy the “powers that be” wielded the stick and the people got to know only what was approved. That power has been lost with new media. This is not only true in Singapore but all over the world. The response is always to attempt to shut it down as it is a pain and tends to let unpleasant facts appear in public domain. Yes, you will get all sort of comments that are rude, vulgar, unfair etc but with it you will also get a well thought point of view that opens up the debate. Not too comfortable for “those” who are of the opinion that the man in the street should not be told to many details that might “confuse” them. The best men have already been selected so the rest of us should just accept what we are fed. The experience has been, that paying top dollar dose not always mean that you get just the good stuff, just like social media news to ge thet trash to who are to happy to jumb on the bandwagon. Remember the adage ‘the truth will set you free” and ” God is watching you” and the famous Animal Farm ” All are equal but some are more equal than others. Before GOD all are equal. We have have to go sometime, it just when and how and we can’t take anything with us. We come naked and we will return naked.

  28. 29 henry 2 August 2012 at 13:39

    When we read the Straits Times, we must understand that they present news with a slant. The same goes for articles that appear in Time magazine.

    When we visit blogs such as Yawning Bread, there is a slant too.

    The important fact is that we must discern the truth between each and all of them. This takes experience, common sense and our own judgements about all the issues presented. Statistics can be presented in so many ways. So can a picture.

    The model that allows differing views is not perfect but is preferred.

    It must prevail. The people must learn to discern. Unfortunately, after decades of one sided views, many minds are stuck. It does not help either that schools do not allow differing views and how to nurture the mind to think broadly.

    I support free speech, free expression. At the same time I also support accountability. Ignore that duty and you pay a hefty price of losing whatever credibility that you may have.

    It is a process, a praxis.. allow it to form its own shape and shadow. Only then can we as a people begin to grow in wisdom.

    Speak! if its worth listening, you will get an audience!


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