Getting the Chills: Activism & the Politics of Fear in Singapore

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‘What is the worst that could happen? They’re not gonna jail me!’

Not so long ago, in 2012, I naïvely and stubbornly insisted to my anxious parents that getting involved in civil society activism in Singapore was no longer a frightening prospect. ‘We’re not breaking any laws,’ I insisted. Drafting statements, conducting research, advocating policy change, writing letters to the newspapers, blogging—that’s hardly radical.

‘You’re a mother now,’ they pleaded. ‘Think of your child.’

That statement grated, at the time—it seemed like unwarranted overreaction. Plus, I was thinking of my child, and the kind of country I wanted him to grow up in.

Four years later, I’m not writing this from a jail cell, bankrupt and bereft, but the prospect is no longer as ludicrous as I’d thought it would be. Continue reading


In Singapore, Construction Sites are the ‘New Sweatshops’

Well, actually, not that new.

Jolovan Wham recently posted on Facebook the case of Shan Jian Xin Construction Pte Ltd. (SJX), in which their construction workers were made to sign a contract with clauses that violated local labour laws (for e.g. ‘The worker works fully for the whole year without rest’, ‘The employee is not entitled to wages while on MC’, etc.). When some SJX workers resigned due to a pay dispute and filed complaints with the Ministry of Manpower, the employer responded with a list of contestable deductions, effectively reducing their net pay to $76 (see image below). Continue reading

#FreeMyInternet—Movement Against New Licensing Requirements for Online Media


The blogging community—collectively called Free My Internet—will be organising a protest and online blackout next week against the new licensing requirements imposed by the Media Development Authority, which requires ‘online news sites’ to put up a ‘performance bond’ of $50,000 and ‘comply within 24 hours to MDA’s directions to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards’.

We encourage all Singaporeans who are concerned about our future and our ability to participate in everyday online activities and discussions, and to seek out alternative news and analysis,  to take a strong stand against the licensing regime which can impede on your independence. Continue reading

The New MDA Licensing Regime: Keeping Tabs

POSTER[Poster courtesy of Joshua Chiang,]

Here is a timeline of news articles and blog posts related to the new MDA licensing regulations for online news sites, which were announced on Tuesday, 28 May 2013, gazetted on 29 May 2013, and are due to come into effect on 1 June 2013. Here is the media statement released by a community of online writers who oppose the new licensing regime (self included!).

Continue reading

MEDIA STATEMENT—Major Online Websites In Singapore To Protest Against Licensing Requirement

Thursday, 30 May 2013

 The Media Development Authority had, on Tuesday, introduced a ‘licensing framework’ that would require ‘online news sites’ to put up a ‘performance bond’ of $50,000 and ‘comply within 24 hours to MDA’s directions to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards’.

As part of the community of websites in Singapore that provide sociopolitical news and analysis to Singaporeans, we are concerned about the impact of the newly-introduced requirement on fellow Singaporeans’ ability to receive diverse news information. Continue reading