This article https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/some-people-spreading-fake-news-about-foreign-worker-dorms-to-incite-violence-shanmugam?utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=STFB&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR05SWzu-ZIgQHMQBNZq-DL2VCIQm_UpqOxSpqdT_e1-1gi65rRZQZZtiFo#Echobox=1588150773 in the StraitsTimes of Singapore earlier this week is both puzzling and worrying. Let me explain why…
Fake news can be annoying and dangerous, but who decides what is news and what is fake? If that is the government, what happens with freedom of speech and press?
When is news ‘news’ and when is it just gossip? When people meet in a café a lot of nonsense is often shared… that’s what social gathering is about. So how different is FaceBook or a WA group? Is that a place to gossip and share personal opinions or is what is posted there considered ‘news’ ?
Finally, the article talks about spreading fake news with malicious intent. So what defines malicous? And how do you know the intent behind most messages? Of course sometimes the intent of postings is clear but often it is not; posting is fast and immediate and people just blurt out whatever comes to mind.
People need to be educated and the government should moderate and protect and could perhaps threaten and punish less. The question is “does a government trust it’s people?”. It should.
The pandemic puts governments and leaders around the world to the test. Being based in Singapore most of the year I was proud at the rapid response and the fact that there was no need for a lockdown.
Quickly it proved though that the government overlooked homes for the elderly, daycare, (super) markets and tuition centers and most notably housing of foreign workers. The measures taken and the advise to citizens seemed adequate but could simply not be followed by many because of their working and living environment. If you live with 20 people in a 40 sqm room and earn a few hundred dollar a month it’s hard to practise social distancing.
The number of cases exploded and Singapore is now for the 4th week in lockdown which is called a ‘circuit breaker’ locally.
More stringent measures are taken to get the numbers under control but the sheer number of foreign workers makes the issue hard to handle, leaving the migrant workers themselves in a ‘surreal life’ as this article illustrates https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/3081538/surreal-life-singapore-covid-19-circuit-breaker-and-migrant
At the same time the iron fist of the law strikes harder and harder as these articles illustrate https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/covid-19-british-national-deported-barred-from-re-entering-12678036 and www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/false-message-facebook-covid-19-coronavirus-man-charged-12678986
What do you think? We welcome your ideas, links and feedback.
Fixer, traveller, writer and founder of TheNeighbour