Hacker strikes fear among “good” citizens

pic_201311_03Maybe the Stompers best represent our beating heart. There was a passing mention in a Facebook post that 87% were happy with the hacking of Straits Times’ blog website. Schadenfreude is a totally legitimate emotion.

“Stompers” is the name we give to mostly anonymous readers and contributors to the Straits Times wild wild west site Stomp where digital natives can post anything they think newsworthy — mostly pictures and videos of bad behaviour, overflowing drains and women with cleavages.

pic_201311_07[Addendum, 3 Nov 2013] Thanks to reader Paul Ananth Tambyah, here is the link to the Stomp article. At left is a screen capture of it taken on 3 Nov 2013, Sunday, at 01:30h. If you scroll down to the bottom of the article, there is a “mood meter” which I assume is dynamic, and at the date/time of screen capture, 85% felt “shiok”(colloquial term for thrilled, happy) with another 3% who felt it was “cute”. [End addendum]

There were a few bloggers who were quick to address the issue, though what may be more remark-worthy is how rapidly the excitement of the incident dissipated. After a brief flurry of news reports and online sharing, it’s largely gone from at least my end of social media. In that brief burst of chatter, however, the thing that caught my eye was how many bloggers and social media participants took pains to distance themselves from the hacking: We don’t approve of such tactics, they kind-of say.

Then what are you saying? That even if you are victimised by a brutish government, you should go no further than respectful and polite conversation?

Is that fear speaking?

Get a grip. Hacking is not sui generis. It is one among a vast continuum of acts of resistance. At one extreme end, there are suicide bombers or roadside explosive devices. Occasionally, we hear of self-immolation. But everyday, there are, around the world, protests, demonstrations and strikes. Angry farmers blockade country highways or dump rotting pig carcasses in front of agriculture ministries. Anti-pollution residents occupy and shut down the factory in their neighbourhood that poisons their groundwater. Workers hearing of their pension fund being raided to pay company debts go on strike.

Perhaps every minute of every day, somebody somewhere is spray-painting politically-inspired graffiti.

Turkish Airlines staff in a protest to safeguard their labour rights, June 2013

Turkish Airlines staff in a protest to safeguard their labour rights, June 2013

All these acts cause disruption or impose costs, either on the public or on private property. If you’re going to take the position that once an act of resistance causes disruption or imposes costs, then it is illegitimate (and we can’t possibly “approve” of that), you are basically ruling out all acts of resistance and condemning humankind to perpetual subjugation. You will in effect be saying that preserving your in-group comfort and convenience is more important than a victimised, dispossessed or neglected group’s cry for attention and redress.

That said, some tactics cause a lot more collateral damage than others. Terrorist bombings or bus hijacks have a tendency to kill and maim innocent people, for example. If we have to draw a line somewhere, it should be on the basis of how well-targeted that choice of tactic is. Causing some inconvenience is one thing; injuring innocent bystanders is quite another. Nearly all people will say bombings and taking hostages are just not on.  But by this measure, the hacking of the Straits Times blogsite is pretty well targetted and not more than the tiniest of gestures. How much inconvenience, let alone injury, has it caused innocent persons?

If we are so queasy about even that, quick to distance ourselves from what is a pretty mild act of resistance, then we’re a hopeless lot.

* * * * *

Millions of protesters demonstrated across Brazil in June 2013 over poor transport and social services. This pic is of a demonstration in Belem. Photo: Paulo Santos/Reuters

Millions of protesters demonstrated across Brazil in June 2013 over poor transport and social services. This pic is of a demonstration in Belem.

As an aside, why are we so quick to register our approval or non-approval of this hacking? I wonder if the anxious need to register our stand is itself another indicator of the fear that has deformed us. We don’t go around taking clear stances on demonstrations, strikes, even the occasional riot. We may understand some causes better than others, but generally we respect the fact that on certain issues, some people are more affected than others. We recognise that there are times when people get really angry and feel they have few other ways to express themselves with effect. Their taking such action (protests, strikes, etc) is not something that we must instantly pass judgement on.

So why are we doing so in this case?

* * * * *

Brazilians in Sao Jose dos Campos, protesting poor public services, police violence and government. Photo:  Roosevelt Cassio/Reuters

Brazilians in Sao Jose dos Campos, protesting poor public services, police violence and government. Photo: Roosevelt Cassio/Reuters

There is some speculation that the hacker is Singaporean. People have noted the way the video threat, posted onto Youtube (now since taken down) on either 30 or 31 October 2013,  was unusually specific about something our government did — imposing new regulations on news websites earlier this year. There were also slightly derogatory comments about language quality. The video message opened thus:

Greetings Government of Singapore,

We are Anonymous and we believe that we have your undivided attention.

We also believe that you have had the pleasure of meeting our comrade The Messiah, who demonstrated what a single Anon could do to your so call technologically advanced island.

Now allow us to explain the objective of our recent invasions.

The secondary objective was to welcome you to the new rule where ignoring the issues of your citizens will not go ignored by Anonymous. We advise you to stop feigning ignorance and serve the people.

Any form of arrogant and ignorant statement from a person of position towards the people will not go ignored by Anonymous.

Have you forgotten who you work for? Traditionally the workers respect the boss. Let us stick to tradition.

But the primary objective of our invasion was to protest the implementation of the internet licensing framework by giving you a sneak peak of the state of your cyberspace if the ridiculous, communistic, oppressive and offensive framework gets implemented.

I thought it interesting that the question of whether he was Singaporean seemed as important as it did. So what if he’s Singaporean? Are we starting from the presumption that the group Anonymous can’t possibly comprise one or more Singaporeans? Is there subtle racial profiling at work? And that if the person behind this attack was Singaporean, he must be some kind of imposter?

In this day and age, resistance networks, e.g. Al Qaeda or Wikileaks, draw adherents and partners (or more accurately, combatants in Al Qaeda’s case) from any number of countries. More crucially, they don’t have defined boundaries; countless smaller, independent or semi-independent groups or individuals are affiliated at the margins.

pic_201311_02Curiosity about whether the hacker in this case is Singaporean is understandable, but I think we should be careful not to let his nationality colour our assessment of the depth of his grievance and the seriousness of his mission.

In the same vein, there were belittling comments about how the bombast of the threat was out of all proportion to the demand; see image at left which I think originated from Fabrications About The PAP — the ruling party’s corps of internet “warriors”.

We should see the above reactions for what they are — attempts to:

  • cast the hacker as not the genuine article (because he might be Singaporean);
  • paint him as a sort of dimwit.

These are attempts to make it easier for others to disassociate themselves from what he’s done, and by extension disassociate themselves from his aims — the dismantling of censorship.

But wait a minute — isn’t the dismantling of censorship what we want?

62 Responses to “Hacker strikes fear among “good” citizens”

  1. 1 yuen 2 November 2013 at 17:05

    >“Stompers”… pictures and videos of bad behaviour, overflowing drains and women with cleavages
    > 87% … of them approved of, or were happy with the hacking of Straits Times’ blog website

    now what can we conclude from the two things together?

    > rapidly the excitement of the incident dissipated
    > bloggers and social media participants took pains to distance themselves from the hacking:
    > If we are so queasy about even that, quick to distance ourselves from what is a pretty mild act of resistance, then we’re a hopeless lot.

    a bit harsh isnt it? after “anonymous” declared war on SG government, but followed it up by just hacking a reporter’s blog, it was rather hard to show admiration

    • 2 yawningbread 3 November 2013 at 01:34

      I’m not asking anyone to show admiration. I’m just pointing out how some people were quick to judge, adopting the government’s preferred viewpoint, when from a wider perspective, the hack was such a small thing with no fatalities.

      • 3 yuen 3 November 2013 at 01:43

        people wanted to distance themselves from that declaration of war, given the follow up action looks so little even just admiring the guys for skill, boldness, originality etc was difficult

      • 4 Sa 4 November 2013 at 12:13

        I take it to mean that If some one vandalizes your house in protest against your views and you need to pay to clean it up yourself – you’re ok right? Since that’s what the hacker is essentially doing. No fatalities in this case too.

    • 5 Justsaying 4 November 2013 at 01:09

      Debate and dialogue are crucial aspects of democracy. One may argue – and quite fairly – that these are limited in our country, but I would also like to point out that there isn’t difference in how the “Messiah” is deciding on who the wrongful parties are. This is simply one man’s view of the world.

  2. 6 cyclohexane 2 November 2013 at 17:51

    I believe the Facebook post is referring to this Newnation article: http://newnation.sg/2013/11/86-stomp-readers-shiok-straits-times-got-hacked-by-anonymous/
    Right now though, the percentage of STOMPers who feel ‘shiok’ about this has gone down to 43% (http://singaporeseen.stomp.com.sg/singaporeseen/this-urban-jungle/hacker-group-threatens-to-attack-singapore?page=1)

    Quite interesting to see how so many Singaporeans are ready to defend the government and the rule of law even if they disagree with its policies. This is why we are not a true democracy.

    • 7 Anon jcX2 3 November 2013 at 17:34

      I would’ve thought that that would all the more show how much of a democracy we are

    • 8 Kenny Tan 5 November 2013 at 08:55

      I believe this actually proves we are somewhat ready for a proper democracy: One where the people are actually smart enough to know where the lines should be drawn, where nations’ interest should come ahead of self interest.

      From your comment, i can assume that your concept of a real democracy is the one in the US, where people disagree for the sake of party lines/disagreeing? Maybe it’s not your intention but your last part seems to suggest that you think the rule of law is negative.

      The very fact that people are eager to jump to defend the government when they feel the nation is threatened is a sign of a budding nationalism. The very fact that people are willing to jump to defend the rule of law should be greatly applauded and is a sign of growing awareness of democratic principles.

  3. 9 R.P. 2 November 2013 at 18:56

    While I understand the intentions of Anonymous, I cannot agree with their tactics from an ethical point of view; still, it’s hard to deny their antics are causing people to sit up and take notice that one is tempted to actually say “well done!”…

    • 10 yawningbread 3 November 2013 at 01:35

      What is ethically wrong with it? And while you’re on it, are demonstrations, protests, strikes also ethically wrong?

      • 11 Anon Yeec 4 November 2013 at 02:06

        There is still a difference between hacking and demonstrations/protests/strikes. Certainly you would not disagree that issuing public threats to achieve one’s goals is definitely a step beyond just standing for a cause and airing one’s grievances? In that light, even within non-violent acts of resistance, there are varying degrees. I think the real test here is whether you feel that the Government has indeed restrained freedom to the point that going *beyond* even milder non-violent acts is called for. From a personal point of view, I don’t think it’s fair to say that such an escalation was justified.

      • 12 Sa 4 November 2013 at 12:17

        Are strikes and demonstrations that causes property damage and that injures people wrong? The point I’m making is that you cannot use one broad brush stroke and say ‘oh hacking is right OR wrong’, ‘demonstrations is right OR wrong’. It seems that to you, these acts can do no wrong and you failed to consider the other side of the coin.

      • 13 yawningbread 4 November 2013 at 16:03

        How did you read this meaning from my article?

    • 14 andyxianwong 3 November 2013 at 21:29

      I think Alex makes a good point, although he doesn’t use the phrase (sorry if I missed it), this is really a form of civil disobedience. Of course, the instigators have described this as a war, but realistically it is nothing of the sort. Civil disobediance may annoy people, but generally it doesn’t cause any real physical harm. And civil disobedience has a long and noble history in the civil rights movement, so even if one does not agree with the end goal, or even the mechanisms, I think it is extremely valid to accept that something like this can or even should be allowed.

      • 15 yawningbread 4 November 2013 at 15:21

        Actually, I think civil disobedience is a quite separate thing. Civil disobedience is an act (or a refusal to act) that is consonant with one’s conscience, but which violates a demand of the state. The state must first make a demand that you do this or that or refrain from doing this or that, and then you do nothing or something different. In addition, the consequences of one’s action or non-action should largely fall on oneself — mostly for moral advantage — rather than be directed at any “victim”.

      • 16 andyxianwong 4 November 2013 at 23:34

        Personally I think I take a slightly broader definition of civil disobedience. For me, it has to be peaceful, non violent and non destructive, but it is more confrontational perhaps than a “normal” protest. To me, it wouldn’t necessarily have to be so specific as in your definition. So for example, a group of people joining hands to (peacefully) deny access to the office of a company committing human rights violations would count. Similarly a disorganised flash mob in the lobby would probably achieve something similar.

        I’m no expert on hacking, but I believe anon are most famous for “denial of service” attacks, wherein a large group of people act in concert to make a website so busy it is inaccessible to other users. I see this as being somewhat akin to the flash mob denial of access to an office building above. Perhaps I am wrong to liken this to civil disobedience, I certainly wouldn’t put anon the same category as Rosa Parks, but a quick scan on Wikipedia seems to support this somewhat.

        Having said that, the actions of the Messiah thus far have been something different, in that (s)he has effectively been defacing websites which takes time and effort to repair. So perhaps this is more akin to vandalism than civil disobedience after all. Regardless, Wikipedia also makes a good point about the difficulty of defining civil disobedience – “a maze of semantical problems and grammatical niceties”

  4. 17 Anon T8FF 2 November 2013 at 21:22

    There’s now a spilt between pro-Anonymous camps and pro-Government camps (that doesn’t map onto the anti-PAP/pro-PAP divide). The division at heart is not even media censorship and openness of information anymore, for which I supported Anonymous for at the very start (and so have been extremely surprised and disappointed at the obfuscating tangents that Singaporeans have drawn the issue out into) but now is a matter of the worse fears of these divided Singaporeans projected onto the Anonymous plan: resistance towards colonisation by ‘Western’ ideals and any individual that dares act outside of the law and the collective group and still claim his/her actions in their name; vs a desire for decolonisation from the paternalistic government, its control on information, and the internalised groupthink in the population that allows the PAP’s control to perpetuate itself. Yes, the new dialectic of the democratised Singaporean blogosphere that has pit Singaporeans against each other – the key struggle is about power and the split follows the political lines of privilege, which is why people are trying to conflate it with concepts of nationality (https://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2013/11/02/hacker-strikes-fear-among-good-citizens/) and ‘democratic’ legitimacy (http://www.breakfastnetwork.sg/?p=8511). Of course, the first group of ‘The’ true, pure-blooded Singaporeans are more concerned with the legality of the means and the impact on themselves, rather than any of the ideological causes introduced into public discourse and their potential.

    All the while, the government has not said anything else on the news media that is so empty it’s risible. It was just my wishful thinking for the off-chance that they would grovel and actually make efforts to conciliate, not so much by cancelling the framework but by acknowledging that freedom of information is a critical latent issue. But again, there has been a closing of ranks which is probably SOP already after getting so much practice in the last few years. The excuse for a neutered and completely unsatisfactory response must be that our great leadership is busy in Poland, influencing the world.

  5. 20 Junnies Jun Yang 3 November 2013 at 00:54

    I recently came across a short commentary and i thought this line was particularly beautiful

    “Of course, the first group of ‘The’ true, pure-blooded Singaporeans are more concerned with the legality of the means and the impact on themselves, rather than any of the ideological causes introduced into public discourse and their potential. The three basic things that any Singaporean worth his or her salt needs to survive: air, ATM card and high moral ground, and everything else will follow – I can’t be condescending enough here.””

    It is nonsensical to equivocate the actions of Anonymous as “terrorism” or an “act of war”, themes which i’ve seen floating around on facebook and the blogosphere. They probably stem from the related themes of the “sanctity of stability”, or “pacifist, peaceful protest”, or attempts to engineer change through the “correct”, “legal” (read government-prescribed/ sanctioned) channels. Themes conditioned into them by forty years of authoritarian propaganda.

    In an ideal world, progress walks hand-in-hand with stability, change is peaceful, and the “legal” channels are actually legitimate, reasonable channels.

    But we live in the real world. We live in Singapore. Where the mass media (a strong platform for discourse and change) is leashed by the PAP; where protests are isolated to one small corner of Singapore; where the most recently emergent legitimate platform for civil discourse and change, the Internet, is under threat (justified by euphemisms of “regulatory requirements”)

    John F Kennedy said that “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.

    I think the parallels to Singapore are excruciatingly obvious here. And what harm did Anonymous really do? Force a few hundred people to do OT (overtime) to patch security vulnerabilities for a few days(or weeks) that shouldn’t even exist? This fear-mongering and attempt to “spin-and-hype” the effects of Anonymous is just laughable.


    Incidentally, the lack of a government response is very telling. It speaks of the generally spineless and reactionary nature of our leadership that no one has commented since they’re all waiting for the top to prescribe the “appropriate”, PAP-sanctioned response. They’re all waiting for someone to tell them what to do and when something out of the blue happens, they become the proverbial deer in the headlights. (just like in the haze crisis)

    Come on Mr Yaacob. Say something. You’re a Minister, drawing a million-dollar salary and you can’t even squeak out a politically-correct, “safe” response? Where’s the leadership? What a disgrace.

  6. 21 Anon T8Fe 3 November 2013 at 01:12

    Dear Alex, I enjoy reading your articles but I have to disagree with you on this one. I think people enjoy having spirited vigilantes around. We have seen the kindness hero in red spandex who generated a lot of interest, though he pale in comparison to this “Messiah”. That’s probably due to the subject of interest. However, I can rationalize with that kindness hero and thus support his action because his intentions are clear and his witty actions are just.

    However, is it really wise for us to show support for someone or some group that are so dubious without knowing their true intentions? I cannot accept that. I feel that the fact that people are trying to identify whether it is a Singaporean is not just to diss him aside. To me, it is more of an exercise where people are trying to rationalise with this “Messiah” and to judge whether or not he is truly fighting for the dispossessed or neglected groups.

    Yes you are right to point out that changes involves disruption of different multitudes. However, without knowing who this “Messiah” is and what real changes he really want to achieve can you really wholeheartedly give him your support just because he is conveniently riding on the anger of the populace? None of us here has the foresight to know what positive changes or disruptions this “Messiah” will bring.

    I believe that change is needed in the very roots of our country but we do not, and should not rely on dubious agents such as the “Messiah” to represent us. Disruptive changes are needed in our country but I won’t feel proud at all if it done through this dubious “Messiah” or if harm is caused to others in the process. We the people are powerful when we rally together but we all need to think twice before barking up the wrong tree.

    • 22 YJ@2 3 November 2013 at 02:34

      Dear Alex, I don’t agree with you on this either but I thank you for making me think about why I don’t support this particular ‘Anonymous’.
      Anon T8Fe said exactly what I wanted to say.

      to add on –
      If you looked at the hacked ST blog site (web cache available), “anonymous” talks about Sun Ho and Tammy the puppy. What has the CHC/Sun Ho and Tammy got to do with internet regulations and freedom of information from the govt? I think it’s things like these that make people skeptical.

      Also, although I do not agree with Anonymous’ tactics of hacking (and DDOS), it does not imply that I also disagree with “illegal” activities (in the singov context) such as protests and strikes – which are a basic human right. Hacking is not a human right.

      Hacking of govt websites affects even more innocent people than peaceful protests and strikes, regardless if its in one small corner or along big streets like orchard rd. at least people can ‘siam’ or weave thru the protesting crowd. The fear of Anonymous access of our personal records/information should not be belittled.

      • 23 Anon de7Y 3 November 2013 at 14:51

        How is it different from protests and strikes? If Singapore mrt/bus drivers were to go on strike all at once, The economic damages it brings would be pretty substantial. If all the ground staff at changi airport decided to stop working unless they get a pay raise, no one can leave Singapore.

        Furthermore, what are the damages the current hacking episodes have incurred? All these are done to put up a show, any hackers with a malicious intent will try to avoid detection at all cost.

    • 24 Junnies Jun Yang 3 November 2013 at 03:57

      I don’t believe Mr Au is professing support (and neither am I!). He is simply acknowledging that the efforts of Anonymous are not necessarily bad/incorrect/evil simply because they are non-legal, “unconventional”, or disruptive.

  7. 25 K 3 November 2013 at 10:54

    For me it’s about 2 main things – anonymity and pettiness.

    A protest for civic rights seems to me to be rather meaningless if done anonymously. Citizens (or equivalent constituents) can legitimately protest against infringements of rights, etc., but such a protest done anonymously loses much of its impact – it suggests that we cannot protest openly, which while partially true, has been disproved by actual protests having occurred. Furthermore, who is supposed to be protesting? Who exactly does this person seek to represent – does he/she presume to speak for the entire populace? This is further muddled by the specifics here, as Anonymous is a well-known international group, which conjures an image of foreigners speaking on our behalf; while this is not by itself wrong, it is quite natural for people to bristle at this and see it as possible condescending. (On that note, I would also argue that it is as such actually quite relevant whether or not this person is Singaporean.)

    This is made worse by the range of issues that was brought up – as noted by some here, some of these are rather minor in scope, perhaps even obscure. This suggests irrelevance (are these really what we are concerned with enough to protest about?), incoherence (really, make up your mind what you want to focus on), frivolity (what is your issue, or are you just picking on anything that can be complained about?), and arguably unfair criticism (are all of these really issues that you expect the government to control?). A focus on one or two key civic-rights issues would have made this much better; as it stands, there’s a rather strong sense of self-righteous peevishness.

  8. 26 henry 3 November 2013 at 11:40

    The act helps to expose vulnerability of a Gov that keeps its stance that they are invincible, that they are right, that they are completely above board.

    A stance that rejects alternate views, refuses & denies a world that people should have choices. The vulnerability indicates that they are fallible. We actually want them to admit it. We want them to say that their decisions was not well thought out. We want them to admit that they do not understand us, that they think we are irrelevant.

    Of course they will never take that route. Therefore, acts of defiance, acts of protest, will continue. It does not matter how the protest is carried out or by whom. We are looking for a hero amongst us. Someone to champion, somebody to stand up to Goliath and bring him down with a puny stone.

  9. 27 Joachim Cuntz 3 November 2013 at 13:37

    I do not agree with you that we should condone protests that involve disruption to public life. I do not agree ONE BIT!

    Consider the bus worker’s strike. What if the workers, in striking, had made some kids miss their year-end examinations? What if they had made some businessmen miss their deals? We should consider the disruption that such strikes have, and realize that we cannot condone them at all. How would you like it if your favourite niece or nephew missed the PSLE exam because of some bus strikes?

    • 28 Sgcynic 3 November 2013 at 14:31

      So that means the drivers are screwed for ALL options are closed to them.

    • 29 Bryan Lee 3 November 2013 at 15:51

      Then you are only considering your own in-group comfort and convenience, not having the oppressed, the disadvantaged and neglected in mind. It’s almost like saying you cant buy a t-shirt that you really really like because factory workers go on strike against inhumane treatment to employees.

    • 30 K 3 November 2013 at 16:04

      By your logic, any event that disrupts public life should not be condoned. Perhaps we should cancel all celebrations and mass events since they might end up causing traffic jams too?

      Don’t resort to extreme scenarios to rail against strikes. It’s lazy thinking and inapplicable the vast majority of the time.

    • 31 Joachim Cuntz 3 November 2013 at 20:44

      No sense of proportion at all. I am talking about students missing an examination, about families who have been starving missing out an important job interview because some bus drivers went to strike. How can you compare to buying a T shirt or having traffic disruption due to mass celebration. You are deliberately missing my point, and most mischievously if I may add.

      Critical infrastructure cannot be held hostage just because one group of people feel they are victims of an injustice. Same with cyber hacking. How would you feel if those people cut off your water and electricity supply for five hours by hacking into the power plant? How would you feel if your loved one die on the operating table because critical infrastructure was sabotaged by either a group of disgruntled workers or a group of cyber hackers? Either way, it is WRONG!

      If you have a dispute with the govt, or with the company, you better find a way to resolve it without damaging the lives of other people.

      • 32 Girl from Singapore 4 November 2013 at 01:11

        1. It is the government’s job to find alternative modes of transportation when public transport workers go on strike.

        2. You are awfully naive and very Singaporean in your seeming conviction that people’s lives would be ‘damaged’ by strikes.

        3. In a proper democracy, i.e. not Singapore, the likelihood of a last-minute strike completely disrupting a person’s plans for the day and causing really horrible outcomes like a kid missing his PSLE exam is slim. I have lived in London for the past year and I was given advance warning when there was a planned strike that was likely to affect my usual travel route. I’m pretty sure it’s not that hard to find other means of transportation when you know that your usual one will be disrupted. Unless, of course, it’s too hard for the Singapore government or the relevant transport company to do something as simple as this.

        3.5 In a proper democracy, strikes will be legal and therefore are capable of being announced in advance. That is why it is possible for commuters to be given advance warning when a strike is likely to cause disruption to their travel plans. See? No missing of PSLE exam (which obviously will cause the poor kid’s life to end) or of important job interview that will definitely guarantee the poor starving family to stop starving.

        4. Have you ever felt like you were a victim of an injustice? It’s not something that can be dismissed by a ‘just because’.

        5. Your slippery slope scenarios are so hilarious that I am left speechless. Well done.

      • 33 sgcynic@gmail.com 4 November 2013 at 09:58

        Sense of proportion? Essential upgrading and transport withheld just because one group of people feel they are entitled to do so?
        Who’s having a dispute with whom?

      • 34 Anon drHi 4 November 2013 at 13:11

        I think it’s your examples which lack proportion, and you are extreme, interested only in fear mongering rather than real life examples. Pray tell, where have you heard of such cock and bull stories of surgeries failing due to hacking? You certainly have a wild imagination.

    • 35 Fred 4 November 2013 at 18:35

      If you are so squeamish about such things then you deserve the govt you have and should even complain.

      [Yawning Bread: I believe you mean “should not”]

    • 36 D 5 November 2013 at 01:08

      It is the price you pay for living in a state corporatist society where the politically sensitive level of return on investment earned by the PM’s wife is subsidised by exploitation of migrant workers.

      Going on strike was the totally obvious and inevitable outcome.

  10. 37 Saycheese 3 November 2013 at 15:10

    So SPH shut down an ST blog. Big deal? Directly no.

    But the news that ST was inaccurate to conflate war on Singapore Government with war with Singapore itself do the bigger damage. More people now know that PAP’s mouthpiece is not credible. And that from a little hack that hardly inflict any collateral makes it so much sweeter.

    Messiah, whoever you are, keep it up!

    • 38 Jake 3 November 2013 at 20:28

      I think everybody who would think the local media as being biased and unprofessional already came to that realization without Anonymous and Messiah’s acts. It’s actually a bit like preaching to the converted. It’s not reaching a new audience. It at best galvanises and gives people something to cheer for.

      • 39 artemov 4 November 2013 at 11:05

        But all it needs is to maintain its grip on the 60℅, to keep them dreaming in happyland, for all of us to be farked for another 4 years. The key is to wake up as many as possible.

  11. 40 Lye Khuen Way 3 November 2013 at 15:33

    My view on this intrusion into ST site by The Messiah is 1) I was elated because all that talk of security on this tiny island was shot down, 2) mischievous misleading reporting cannot be tolerated, 3) anyone who is the “enemy” of my ” enemy” usually qualify as my friend.
    Sure, hacking is not legal but let us faced it. Do not legitimate Governments round the world engage in it ? You mean , our holier-than-thou PAP coverment or it’s agencies are clean as a whistle on this ?
    I am comfortable with supporting The Messiah as long as he do not target “innocent” sites. That is subjective, so we would have to go by that elusive definition used in Common Law. What a Reasonable Man would consider to be .

    • 41 yuen 3 November 2013 at 17:32

      do you also support his declaration of war, his attack on City Harvest, and his defence of the unfortunate dog?

      as I remarked earlier, a big declaration followed by a petty action does not enhance credibility; the whole thing looks like just a prank

  12. 43 Jammie Wong 3 November 2013 at 17:02

    Alex, is it correct to conclude that you’ll support the kind of “attack” – as the Messiah did, on singapore as long as it is ‘well targetted’?

    How about, say, assasination of a certain – not random, political leaders? is it not inline with your definition of ‘well targeted’?

    • 44 yawningbread 3 November 2013 at 22:50

      Like >80% of Stomp readers, I would have voted “shiok” in the STomp page, so if that counts as “Approve” then that’s where I stand on this hack. As for assassination of certain political leaders, am I going to be so stupid to say “No, Never!” Of course not. Some political leaders who have organised genocide, terrorism, etc would definitely be worth considering. Obama made the decision that Osama bin Laden be killed, and I think most people will say it was the right decision. Claus Von Stauffenberg decided he would kill Hitler — and never regretted that he tried.

      We live in the real world. The real world is messy and there are some among us who act with evil. Resistance can also be messy. Let’s not be so naive or foolish as to think all can neat and clearcut.

      • 45 artemov 4 November 2013 at 11:20

        Well said Alex. Many a times, violence is the only tool the powerless possesses. The powerful knows that, so they keep preaching against anything remotely violent, or tries to portray any real challenge against them as violence. Remember protest = riots? Now hacking = violence too? We been conditioned since young to be repulsed by anything confrontational, or worse, violent. If violence is always wrong, then please dismantle all the armed services. Yet violence is routinely used by the state against its own citizens.

      • 46 yuen 4 November 2013 at 16:29

        actually, violence, or threat of violence, is regularly applied by state against lawbreaking and disobedience – it usually takes some amount of violence to deprive a person of freedom, before more severe forms of violence is applied according to some formulae relevant to the circumstance; whether their use is definitely for a good purpose is always subject to debate; as you say, the real world is messy

    • 47 Girl from Singapore 4 November 2013 at 01:15

      How in the world can hacking be equated with assassination?

      • 48 Jammie Wong 5 November 2013 at 14:21

        @Girl from Singapore, perhaps you read too fast and missed this part of the article:

        “That said, some tactics cause a lot more collateral damage than others. Terrorist bombings or bus hijacks have a tendency to kill and maim innocent people, for example. If we have to draw a line somewhere, it should be on the basis of how well-targeted that choice of tactic is. Causing some inconvenience is one thing; injuring innocent bystanders is quite another. Nearly all people will say bombings and taking hostages are just not on.”

    • 49 anchorman 4 November 2013 at 01:46

      well, that escalated quickly.

  13. 50 Ron 3 November 2013 at 20:12

    If someone disagree with your blog and hacks into your blog, is it ok for you?

    • 51 Chanel 4 November 2013 at 09:52

      Ron, what a strange comment. If you disagree, why visit Alex’s blog? What read his blog? Someone put a gun to your head?

  14. 52 sean 3 November 2013 at 23:07

    Reblogged this on scrapbook and commented:
    This made me rethink some of my initial thoughts on ‘the Messiah’.
    It’s true, we tend to dismiss & distance ourselves from the more disruptive acts of protest, because the idea that legitimate change is peaceful, non-violent & largely satisfying is something that has been drilled into us countless times in our education.
    “If you’re going to take the position that once an act of resistance causes disruption or imposes costs, then it is illegitimate (and we can’t possibly “approve” of that), you are basically ruling out all acts of resistance and condemning humankind to perpetual subjugation.”
    I’m just curious to see what the Messiah is out to do, and who will he/she actually target – what’s the agenda? It’s one thing to be protesting the government’s actions, it’s another to be mindlessly anti-government. And of course, we all know that in the larger scheme of things, no one really gives two shits about Singapore’s internal sociopolitical affairs, except those that have larger moral implications or connections to global agendas (e.g. LGBT rights, political hegemony), so the Messiah must probably be Singaporean. At the very least, I hope he is – only then would there be the impetus to make effective change, for the country that is his/her own.

    • 53 Anon Yu3F 4 November 2013 at 02:01

      Just remember one thing, the admin of stomp can easily manipulate the shook meters. So there you go

    • 54 patriot 4 November 2013 at 12:44

      Just my personal opinion that change will never happen if the people are all conformist or go along the flow the leaders set.

      And why do the majority of people are hoping and looking for change if they are in good hands? If the people are ruled benignly, better benevolently, will they long for change?

      And change can only come from people with radical(read fundamental/original) idea. Only such folks can change thing. When such calibres can effect change without bloodshed, it is a blessing if change for the Good takes place.


  15. 55 Chanel 4 November 2013 at 09:51

    Reading some of the responses to Alex’s well-written blog post, one quickly realizes how the climate of fear instituted by the government is still working so well. Did the hacking of Straits Times inconvenience anyone? I very much doubt so.

    If this government really listens to the people and has the interest of the people at heart, such actions would not have arisen. This is only a very mild form of hacking and it was done to bring attention to causes that people care about. What else can the people do when this government only pretends to listen and the Singapore CONversation is only just a public relations exercise??

  16. 56 Dylan 4 November 2013 at 12:11

    Alex, I thought this is one of the most ridiculous articles you’ve written.

    Who are you to draw the line between what is profane and what is ‘acceptable’ forms of resistance? Based on what? Common sense? Who are you to use your own impressionistic/anecdotal evidence to present to us that there are some lines to be crossed? To some of us, declaring war on the Singapore government (and actually acting out on these threats) is akin to or comes close to being an act of terror.

    “Then what are you saying? That even if you are victimized by a brutish government, you should go no further than respectful and polite conversation?”

    How so are we victimized by the government? Are you suggesting that we are? One would just need to think back to how 60% of the population think that the government is going a fine job. Even if we were indeed ‘victimized’, are you suggesting that the only way to seek redress is by engaging in aggressive acts of resistance? I do not think so.

    “If we are so queasy about even that, quick to distance ourselves from what is a pretty mild act of resistance, then we’re a hopeless lot.”

    I absolutely disagree with that. On the contrary, by clapping our hands and quietly lending support to their actions – thinking it is ‘cool’ and ‘shiok’ just because their seemingly vague objectives ties in with one’s proclaimed objectives makes one an unquestioning, uncritical sheep isn’t it? How would that be good in developing political consciousness and maturity? (not very good)

    Funny that you mentioned that there is a need to ‘draw a line somewhere’ but continually trivialize this act of hacking. If they start targeting Singaporean banks and disrupt their networks disabling your ability to draw money from the ATM, is this ok? If they target the ISP and causes traffic to your site to stop is this ok?

    Consider this, what if a Pro-PAP supporter hacks into the SDP, WP or your brilliant little site, because they feel that the opposition netizens are getting more arrogant and are turning into bullies – would you acquiesce in support of them? I would imagine that there would be an uproar and a witch hunt.

    What if a pro government hacktivist singled you out specifically (as anonymous did with specific individuals – passing judgement as if he really were the Messiah) and threatened to harm you? I would think that your reaction would be vastly different.

    “As an aside, why are we so quick to register our approval or non-approval of this hacking? I wonder if the anxious need to register our stand is itself another indicator of the fear that has deformed us.”

    Aren’t you clearly and rather quickly taking a stand to register your approval too? I wonder what that says about you.

    If we do not take a clear stance against such unlawful acts, what’s next? What can we condone? It is precisely because the lines among political resistance activities are blurred that many feel the need to take a stand and draw a line.

    I think most Singaporeans (yes even anti-establishment ones) think that rule of law must be respected and people should not think that they are above the law just because they have an axe to grind. After all, don’t we all despise people who seemingly bend the laws to achieve their aims?

    • 57 Fr3d 4 November 2013 at 18:51

      Like jailing political activists or opposition members without trial or bankrupting opposition? These actions are legal? What do you propose to do about this? Rather, what CAN you do about this???

      How do you rationalize what you can do and what others can or cannot do? Do you have an original scheme or can you come up with something original like some revolutionaries, albeit benign ones, did?

      Perhaps you are suggesting we become some kind of Gandhi? Even Nelson Mandela resorted to some indirect violence.

  17. 58 Fool 4 November 2013 at 13:12

    Call me a cynic and fool but I still believe this is an orchestrated plot to serve as justification for future draconian regulations on Internet freedom, aka Newspaper and Publishing Act, Vandalism Act. Too many convenient incidents make me think this. The ST articles, the governments reaction, the survey, the spread on fear, creating scary scenarios i.e CPF hacked with money gone etc.Whether the Messiah is Singaporean is not the question but who or the team is working for is.

  18. 59 ape@kinjioleaf 4 November 2013 at 13:30

    So far, Anonymous acts of ‘attack’ on Singapore websites are, to me, akin to acts of vandalism. No real harm, no real disruption. To say that Anonymous ‘attacks’ Singapore or Singapore Government and place this collective together with the likes of terrorists seemed overreacting.
    That’s not to say the government or those maintaining government websites should be complacent and brush this matter off lightly. Due diligence will still have to be maintained on essential systems such as traffic lights control, power plants etc are not compromised.
    Personally, I may gleefully laugh in silence if ERP is disabled… that perhaps might be one civil disobedience most people can support.

  19. 60 Anon kNbs 4 November 2013 at 15:00

    I think we can view that the messiah “hacks” down certain websites as he / his organisation feels that those websites are biased and spreading the wrong message. Thus he/she did what was deem necessary to stop them from spreading the ‘wrong’ message.

    The current Singapore government, via the IDA, controls the mass media, requiring them to be regulated, licensed, so that the people hears only the ‘right’ things.

    Arent there much similarities between the 2 parties?

  20. 61 Tan Hock 8 November 2013 at 15:03

    Alex, Perhaps i should empathize with you and your ideals for being in the wrong place and at the wrong time. IMHO, however hard you may try to “justify” and get things to move along your ways, you are unlikely to get far.
    For your individuality must be reconciled with overwhelming numbers who are really not in concurrence with your wishes. If you have not come to terms with that, how do you expect them (others) to concur with yours.Move on mate

  21. 62 FromthePeople 27 November 2013 at 18:28

    Anon seems to be acting for the freedom of the internet, which is a naturally anarchic space. To regulate it is futile and makes PAP look oppressive. They only ‘hacked’ into the website of the government to protect the rights of the people to have free press and articles from bloggers and Yahoo etc. Why are all of you reacting like he is a real ‘terrorist’? Btw my internet was working completely fine on the day of the graffiti incident. The guy who was arrested is like one of those campaign starters in hunger games… just pull out of the crowd and shoot.

    The ‘terrorist’ only threatened the practicality and value of the regulation , and only then would there be a cyber skirmish. I think many people don’t see the wider repercussion, which is that Singapore can become insular like Cambodia or North Korea, without any free thoughts or free press articles. If Yahoo is forced to comply and ‘do the right thing’ so that Singaporeans can hear the ‘right thing’ only, how do you think the freedom of Singaporeans are impinged? The international community is laughing at Singapore because we have been brainwashed to hear the mouthpiece of the government, and won’t accept the mild quirkiness of freedom and life. A little graffiti on our online space and we react like fast-twitch triggered raw nerves.

    The whole idea is now a joke because of this because they look exactly like the upper class in the Hunger Games, and we are currently all starving without a free press. How then, can we be free when we can only eat Mee Siam without Hum, and neither cake, nor bread? Anon may just be the mockingjay, which dies as a martyr.

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