I recently was reading through the Straits Times, and came across an article by Asad Latif about Singapore’s low ranking by the Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), who placed the lion state at a low 147 out of 167 countries in terms of press freedoms. He questioned how this could be, and was told by officials from the group that it was because of the lack of independent media in Singapore.
He then posited that if one is happy with the way things are in Singapore, then you cannot be against the way the media operates here, like the two are somehow connected… that a media monopoly that celebrates blandness, imitation, and a complete lack of originality is somehow what it means to be Singaporean.
That not only does this media homogeny define this country’s reality, but that it IS this country’s reality. He even goes on to argue that this is something to celebrate, and connects it to the fact that because Singapore is not a third world country, that it is as close to a paradise that can be found on earth, we should be happy with this state of affairs.
He completely missed the point. Press freedom is not about an adversarial press attacking the government. It is about DIVERSITY. It is about many voices, and not just one congealed mass of text squeezed out of an ink or TV tube. Press freedom is about being able to present new ideas, new ways of thinking, new concepts, which while they might seem bold and radical at first, will come to be seen for the logical good sense they are (or are not).
RSF is right to rank Singapore low in terms of press freedoms, because if there is a dissenting voice, or a visionary voice which doesn’t fit the mold, there is nowhere for it to be heard, to be expressed.
It’s actually tough to publish original thought, because the readers have been condition by so much copy-cat crap, flavourless tripe and articles which numb the mind and grind out any hope of being heard or of hearing an original viewpoint. Singapore is going through changes as a younger generation comes of age. They might have given up on the hope of indie media existing here in Singapore… but we haven’t. With your support, it can thrive.