Category Archives: New media

IPS-Law Fac forum on AIMS paper

Just got this mailer from IPS. Thought I’d post it up in case anyone is interested.

IPS-NUS Law Faculty Public Forum “Consultation Paper by the Advisory
Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS)”

Date:               19th September 2008

Venue:            Seminar Room 4-4,NUS Law School,Block B, 469G Bukit Timah Road

Time:               4.00 pm – 6.30 pm (Registration begins at 3.30 pm)

Attire:              Office Attire

The Institute of Policy Studies and the Law Faculty of the National
University of Singapore will be organising the above forum to gather
feedback from members of the public on the recently published
consultation paper by the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media
on Society (AIMS). The advisory council was appointed last year by the
Government to study the far-reaching social, ethical, legal and
regulatory implications of a rapidly growing new media sector. Last
month, it unveiled its consultation paper, entitled “ENGAGING NEW
MEDIA – Challenging Old Assumptions”. The paper contains
recommendations on how and whether Government should engage with
citizens, regulate the Internet and protect minors from harmful online
content. The paper is available for download at the website of AIMS
(see http://www.aims.org.sg/library/docs/Executive%20Summary.pdf for
the executive summary and
http://www.aims.org.sg/library/docs/AIMS%20consultation%20paper%20-%20Engaging%20New%20Media.pdf
for the full paper). AIMS will refine its paper in the light of public
feedback before submitting it to the Government.

To register for the forum, please complete the attached Registration
Form and email it to Ms Raihidaya Wapa at daya@aims.org.sg or call
6837-9842.

If you have further queries regarding registration and administrative
details, please feel free to contact Mr Aaron Low (Email:
aaronlow@aims.org.sg) or Ms Yvonne Pang, (Email:
yvonnepang@aims.org.sg).

If you unable to attend the forum but will like to give feedback on
the consultation paper, you can do so at the AIMS website at
http://www.aims.org.sg/ or at the forum located at
http://forum.aims.org.sg/ You can also give your views by sending a
SMS to 94354608 between now and the end of 30 September, 2008.

Thank you.

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Aiming too far ahead?

So the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS) has finally released its report. More than a year after it was set up it proposed key changes in policies and laws in 4 areas, engagement, online political content, protection of minors and limited immunity for intermediaries.

Great.

Uh, were you expecting anything more? Lots of people are saying, boo AIMS. Lame AIMS. Blah AIMS. Aim higher la.

What? Do cows fly over the moon?

Fact 1: AIMS is government appointed. That it got so far in going beyond what PM said is already an achievement. Don’t expect more than what it can go.

Fact 2: It is run by people who are not practitioners of New Media. No bloggers, no forumers etc.

Fact 3: These are but mere RECOMMENDATIONS. The final decision-maker is the government, and I’m betting they aren’t even going to go as far as AIMS.

So what are we left with? Everything. Look, the world moves on. Even if the government says, hey no one is to post pictures of chicks (I mean the yellow fluffy things that grow up to be McChicken burgers) or cats online, does that mean that the Net will suddenly be filled with a dearth of chick flicks (Haha)?

Fact is the Net ignores everyone and no one. We too have to move on and create something out of nothing. I find it amusing to see people write “The Net is unregulable!”. If so, why are they petitioning or writing about why the government should relax rules on the Net? If it is, it is.

If the idea of community moderation is to take flight, it is now that it should. We don’t need a stamp of approval.

Just do it

One wonders

I was privileged to have attended a roundtable discussion on the Impact of ICT on the Malaysian Elections: Lessons for Singapore conducted the Institute of Policy Studies in NUS.

Of course, everyone in Singapore by now would have read about the great political tsunami in the recent Malaysian elections when the opposition, led by former Malaysian Deputy PM Anwar Ibrahim, toppled Barisan Nasional off their 2/3 majority in Parliament. Much had been said about the impact of the new media, when bloggers like Jeff Ooi actually made it to Parliament. Much had also been said about news websites such as Malaysiakini, Malaysia Today , the videos of Hindraf, VK Lingam, photos of the Bersih rally and Badawi sleeping and how they changed the way Malaysians received their news and thus formed their opinions

Today I got to hear these main actors first hand and I heard about their stories and what they experienced. It was inspiring. I mean, to be able to have real political competition, choice – that is something I’ve never had and hope fervently that I will.

I am not supposed to blog about the seminar because it was a closed-door session but suffice to say I just want to reflect upon the points raised in that seminar

Did Internet play a crucial role?

The feelings were mixed on this one. Internet definitely allowed voices to be heard where the mainstream press did not previously allow. It allowed ideas to float, issues to be surface: it set the agenda, an agenda that came from the bottom. Witness the Lingam video, Hindraf etc. It united people across the country, it gave a voice to the voiceless.

But is that enough? Probably not. The panelists all agreed that stepping out of cyberspace into the real world is what really mattered. That people were willing to get off the butts and off the keyboard to do what matters, mattered. So instead os just writing about MPs and wanting freedom of speech, they went out to encourage people, to empower them, to get them to walk the streets, to even be arrested.

Does an independent media make a difference?

Yes. Without Malaysiakini , without Raja Petra, would the people have known about what really went on? Would scandals have been exposed? Would there be enough to talk about? Given that MSM in Malaysia is controlled directly, owned by the political parties – a big fat no.

So, will PAP suffer the same fate as BN?

Again, no one is a fortune teller and it is hard to say. But as Yawning Bread pointed out, even if PAP lost as many votes as BN, no way would they lose as many seats. 66.6 per cent to get 82 out of 84 seats.

Three words: GRC.

We could go into a long discussion about GRCs, but better men and women have already discussed the issued to its logical end, which is that it is illogical and serves only to protect the incumbent party.

That said, PAP would do well to learn from BN, but the costs of change are high. Are they willing to pay it? Or will democracy evolve?

I am well pleased.

What is the question?

To repeal or not to repeal. That is not the question. Rather it is the debate over the question of whether gay sex should be decriminalised that seems most intriguing.

First, there was the Repeal 377a website that started to campaign for the repeal against section 377A of the Penal Code. Under that section, it is an offense for a man to have sex with another man. In the website, there were resources posted for people to read. It also posted arguments why the law should be repealed when amendements to the Penal code are finalised when Parliament sits on Monday 22 Oct. There is also an online petition put up on the website calling for the Prime Minister to repeal the law. At time of this posting, there were about 6300 signatures to the petition.
More recently, a video was put up by celebrities, mostly theatre practitioners, on the site. Hosted on YouTube, the rap video was put together to appeal to people to join the campaign and sign the petition.

ust yesterday, a website was launched apparently to counter the Repeal website. It is almost a mirror of the former. It calls for the “silent majority” to speak up and make their voices heard on this issue of the 377a law. To date, at about 530 pm, almost 3400+ signatures have been collected.

Whether or not the law should be repealed is not of interest to me, (although I am 90% sure it will NOT repealed, regardless of whether Keep377a.com was set up or not). Rather it is the very healthy, very sharp debate that has resulted because of the issue being aired in cyberspace. Undoubtedly, letters have been written to Straits Times forum page from both camps. But knowing the conservative nature of ST, most of the anti-gay law letters will be published while pro-repeal folks would have had limited exposure.
But in this age of the New Media, who needs newspapers or editors?

What has since resulted is an exchange of views on several levels. As far as I can tell, these are the arguments that have been most frequently discussed

1) Why have a law when it is not enforced?
2) Homosexuality is unnatural, therefore evil
3) Repealing 377a is about upholding equality and individual freedoms
4) Keeping 377a is about upholding family values
5) Christianity = bigotry
6) Majority versus minority
7) Should a law be a reflection of a society’s values? Who decides what these are?

In the past, would have these issues been aired? I doubt it. It may have been whispered about, talked about at coffeshops or at watercooler breaks but elevated to a national level?

Of course, the debate was fuelled by a vocal and enthusiastic Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong, (whom I suspect PAP regrets appointing now heh) who is going to submit a Parliamentary petition to include repealing section 377a under the Penal Code amendments.

The traditional media went to town with his story, simply because it was the first time anyone had the guts and gumption to do something so audacious; use the Parliamentary system to enact change! Imagine that.

In the process of doing so, the traditional media took on the role of the multiplier and let uninterested parties know of the going-ons of the virutal world.
In fact, I think that is the crucial link in this whole chain of events. Many people continue to write off the traditional media, saying that it is going downhill and will not be able to sustain itself in the Internet age. Yet, its influence, especially in Singapore, is still tremendous.
The reason? Mass media broadcasts. Everyone who buys the newspaper reads the same thing. On the Internet, people narrowcast. People generally go to the sites they want to go to, read the blogs that talk about the issues that interest them. Once in a while, they stumble upon a site which provides an alternative viewpoint. But rarely do they actively seek out a site which says something that is contrary to their views. Unless you are a neutral, like me, who has an interest in the debate itself and not the noise itself.

But noise can only be good. With noise, at least people learn and make their choices. No noise? There is nothing.