Online comments: Line drawn at religious, racial-sensitive issues
Chua Hian Hou
Thu, May 22, 2008
The Straits Times

THE GOVERNMENT is willing to listen to contrarian views expressed online, but the kid gloves will come off where Net postings that threaten the nation's racial and religious harmony are concerned.

The Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrisnan, said on Thursday that the Government is willing to 'listen to honestly-held views of responsible people, especially when they are different'.

However, he warned that it takes seriously its duty to 'maintain the integrity and security of the State'.

This was the reason 'recent events' transpired, he said at a new media conference on Thursday.

He did not specify what the 'recent events' were, but it was likely that he was referring to the arrest two days ago of a 24-year-old Chinese man accused of making racist remarks on his blog, or online journal.

In his speech at the seventh annual PR Academy's conference on Thursday, Dr Balakrishnan, the guest-of-honour, made clear what he thought of new media: 'It is a source of tremendous opportunity, both economically and socially.'

It gives users the ability to communicate and express themselves, find like-minded people and mobilise online, he said.

And though it has made governing a country a much harder job, this is a good thing, he said.

He explained that thanks to new media, governments no longer have a monopoly on information, and cannot simply decide and act as they previously could.

Read the full story in Friday's edition of The Straits Times.


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