Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Writing for the Faith

I wrote a few articles on the topic of voyeurism and morality recently at

It talks candidly about the lust of the eyes, pornography on the Net, and perceived moral standards. If you wish to read them, go ahead and access the articles,
Voyeurism the Visual Sin and Morally Acceptable.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

International Journalism: Freedom of Press

International Journalism
Different degrees of press freedom is found in different parts of the world. Whether the country you are in is practising Western or Authoritarian theory of the press, it makes no difference to the fact that press freedom is relative and subjective. There is no true complete press freedom whether you are exericising rights to the Fourth Estate as watchdog of the state or constrained and restricted by governance.

Take the example of the Western free press where the government is not allowed to intervene with news written by journalists. Exemption from government's intervention in the free market may mean freedom from the government, but it is not freedom from the media owner. Where the survival of a newspaper is dependent on advertisments and subscribers, how free do you think news can be? News is written for its readers and what the readers want to know and hear is what determines the content of news. If a journalist writes something true, but is of no significance to the audience's life, the papers do not sell. If the papers do not sell, the publication cannot survive, and advertisers will not spend money on a poorly circulated publication. For this reason, some newspapers are circulated free, but these papers are unsustainable for serious news in broadsheet press. In other words, there is no freedom in free market press and the content of the papers are determine by advertisers and subscribers.

In an Authoritarian press environment, the control is primarily from the government. There may not be need for a law to censor what is allowed and what is not, because coercing through actions is good enough to perform wonders. Say a wrong word and you get sued or replaced, and automatic self-censorship and self-regulation wil fall in place. In so doing, the audience reads from the news, socially constructed perspectives of events, controlled by governance, to read and see things the way they planned.

Whether you are in a country that practices Western or Authoritarian or Communist or Developmental theories of the press, it is more or less the same. The content of all press is controlled by some form of governance and the only difference is in the degrees of 'press freedom'.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Original Writings

We reap what we sow and we write what we read. That is why our writings are seldom original. Much of our thoughts are built from what we know through reading. Our logic is built from accumulated knowledge from past experience and from studies. Past knowledge is a killer of originality. We need not plagiarize when we write, but we frequently borrow ideas from someone or somewhere else.

In this information age, we are seldom a witness to actual events. The news or stories we read or hear each day is often relayed to the journalists from a source. Relying on source can lead to bias reporting and yet journalists are expected to be objective, impartial, and balance in their reporting. This is a lot to ask of anyone, for a thought or hypothesis we add to what we write is often social construct. We are what we are because we have been molded thus to be, systematically, through education, through regulations, and through depravity.

If someone says he has an original idea, he is almost certainly a liar. Few are the things we see and hear are truly original. They are all borrowed ideas, combined from different sources, formed as one to be considered new, but there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NAS)
That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

No Free Speech in Blogging

Blogging can be dangerous, especially if your blog entries contain comments relating to the Singapore government or any person representing that government or its agencies. If your 'true' identity is traceable within the blog, you can be sued for any defamatory statements made on the Internet.

Tracking the identity of a blogger can be easy, especially if your true data has to be provided to the company hosting your blog. A host company, whether local or oversea, can be forced to reveal information of their users when a court order is served.

In a case on the Internet, a Singapore student in the United States was forced to shutdown his blog because of a comment he made on a government agency. Chen Jia Hao, 23, a first-year graduate student in the chemical physics PhD program at the University of Illinois, has to unreservedly apologize to The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) of Singapore for unspecified "defamatory statements" made against the agency and its chairman Philip Yeo.

Today, the blog site of Chen no longer exist apart from an index page containing the apology. This issue has "raised concerns among international press freedom groups that Singapore, known for its strict controls on the traditional media, might be widening its scope to crack down against dissent on the Internet" (AFP 2005).

"We are troubled that the government has raised the spectre of costly legal action to chill commentary on the Internet," says executive director Ann Cooper of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in an interview with AFP.

International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders told the AFP press that "such intimidation could make the country's blogs as timid and obedient as the traditional media" (AFP 2005).

AFP (2005) "Student apologises to govt agency for Internet criticism", Singapore Window,, 3 May 2005 (Accessed 16 June 2005). Agence France Presse.