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!).

[Please let me know if any links are broken or if there are other articles I should include – so far this is just what’s been showing up on my FB feed. Thanks!]

28 May 2013, Tuesday

The Media Development Authority releases a factsheet with the announcement that from 1 June 2013, online news sites that ‘report regularly on issues relating to Singapore and have significant reach among readers here will require an individual licence from the Media Development Authority (MDA)’. Also:

The Licence also makes it clear that online news sites are expected to comply within 24 hours to MDA’s directions to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards. The only other additional requirement is that online news sites are required to put up a performance bond like all other individually-licensed broadcasters, and the sum of $50,000 is consistent with that required of niche TV broadcasters.

Read the factsheet here. (You can also tell them how you feel about the regulations on their FB status update here.)

Yahoo! News, one of the 10 online news sites who come under the new regulations, reports: 10 online news sites must follow traditional media regulations: MDA

Channel NewsAsia, with quotes from Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim: News websites to be individually licensed

Reuters: Singapore to regulate Yahoo, other online news sites

ZD Net: S’pore outlines new licensing rule for online news sites

Tessa Wong, Straits Times: New licensing scheme for news websites that reach 50,000 people a month (Sorry, no accessible link to full-text of article – must be subscriber)

Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

Ng E-Jay, MDA’s new licensing scheme for online news sites a cover for more oppressive authoritarian control

Ravi Philemon, MDA’s new licensing framework may be misused for political reasons

Publichouse: Gov’t reneges on ‘light touch’ promise

The Online Citizen: TOC’s statement on MDA licensing of online news sites

Where Bears Roam Free: Dirty PAP uses underhand backdoor method to control New Media

29 May 2013, Wednesday

Yahoo!News: New MDA licensing scheme becomes fodder for Singapore satire

Bhavan Jaipragas, AFPSingaporean online community angered by new media rule

Heather Tan, AP: Singapore to require news websites to be licensed

Leonard Lim, Singapolitics: Licensing scheme: Changes to regulations gazetted

Tessa Wong, Singapolitics: TOC posts traffic numbers, rebuts MDA claim

Jeremy Au Yong, Singapolitics: The trouble with trying to control the Internet

Steven Millward, TechinAsia: Press Freedom Concerns Abound as Singapore Set to Regulate Online News

Channel NewsAsia: New licensing framework not intended to clamp down on internet freedom, says MDA

Tan Weizhen, TODAY: Websites with local news content to be licensed

TODAY: New MDA rules ‘regressive’: NSP

Chun Han Wong, Wall Street Journal: Singapore Tightens Grip on Internet News Sites

Leonard Lim And Tessa Wong, Straits Times: MDA rolls out licence scheme for news websites (No link)

 Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

Roy, The Heart Truths: Letter to DPM Tharman: Feedback on New Licensing Framework for Online News Sites

Bertha Henson, The Breakfast Network: Expressed, Depressed, Repressed

Andrew Loh, Publichouse: Gov’t continues to be out of touch

Kirsten Han, Commentary: MDA rule risks stifling discourse, limits media growth

Simisai Also License

Mr Brown: MDA displays its light touch once again

Anonymous TRS reader (that reminds me of Rockson, remember him?), The Real Singapore: F**K YOU PAP FOR CENSORING MY ONLINE MEDIA

Workers’ Party’s Pritam Singh’s Facebook status update about the MDA regulations, which links to Bertha Henson’s (The Breakfast Network) piece: How the G came up with the licensing plan


NSP, National Solidarity Party Press Statement: NSP: New Internet Media Regulation a Step Backwards

CPJ, Committee to Protect Journalists: Singapore imposes licensing fees on news websites

30 May 2013, Wednesday

AFP: Singapore defends Internet licencing rules (also here) [p.s. of note in this article: ‘The MDA said the licence guidelines will “apply to all content on the news sites, including readers’ comments on the news sites“.’]

Tan Weizhen, TODAY: MDA’s new licensing regime evokes backlash online

Siew Kum Hong, with a guest post on mumbrella: Why Singapore’s crackdown on online news reporting is a mistake

Tessa Wong, Straits Times: Clampdown? Yes: Netizens No: MDA (Available on AsiaOne)

Chiu Peace, Yahoo!News: Activists, bloggers call on MDA to withdraw licensing scheme

Gay Star News: New web censorship rule bans gay content in Singapore

Al Jazeera: Singapore: Regulation or censorship?

Asia Sentinel: Behind Singapore’s Internet Crackdown

Eileen Yu, ZDnet: Singapore’s online licensing rule a sign of more to come

Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter: Singapore Broadens Censorship of Online News

 Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

Alex Au, Yawning Bread: Parity’s a good idea

Winston, The Blogfather: THE MDA Licensing Issue – Can’t We All Just Get Along

Choo Zheng Xi, The Online Citizen: MDA’s licensing regime: why YOU should care

Andyxianwong: A masterclass in authoritarianism. Or how to criminalise your critics overnight.

Zit Seng’s Superwall: Getting Around the New MDA Licensing Regime

A Singaporean Son: 10 Ways to Survive the MDA Cull


SDP, Singapore Democratic Party: Democrats regret Govt’s move to license news website

Reporters Without Borders: Government subjects news websites to licencing requirement

31 May 2013, Thursday

Sharanjit Leyl, BBC: New regulations hit Singapore’s online press (News report)

TODAY: Online group asks MDA to withdraw licensing regime

Media Development Authority’s Facebook status update – an attempt to ‘clear the air’ (for e.g. ‘The framework is not an attempt to influence the editorial slant of news sites.’)

NEWS: Mrs. Chiam files adjournment motion to debate MDA licensing regime

Jessica Cheam, Singapolitics: Jury still out on impact of MDA ruling

TODAY: Views on personal websites, blogs do not amount to news reporting: MDA

Southeast Asian Press Alliance: Singapore extends press controls online

Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

YACOOB[Image from Mr. Brown]

Mr. Brown: Yaacob wants you to read the “right” things

Kirsten Han, #spuddingsMDA’s licensing regime and me (and you)

Choo Zheng Xi, The Online Citizen: MDA’s belated “assurances”: Don’t let your guard down

Andrew Loh, Publichouse: MDA’s censorship rules apply to readers’ comments too

The Independent, Singapore: Netizens told to put their money where their mouth is

A Yummy Slice of Life: To hell with thinking

Rachel Zeng: MDA, the new prata flipper?

A Tale Between Two Cities: Media Freedom – Learning from the Best

Andyxianwong: A total fallacy. The Online Citizen “not affected” by licensing changes

(VIDEO) malaysikini: Should M’sia regulate news websites like S’pore

1 June 2013, Saturday

Tan Weizhen, TODAY: Fears over new licensing rules ‘will prove unfounded’

Leonard Lim and Tessa Wong, Straits Times: MDA: Bloggers not affected by new rules (No link)

(VIDEO) Channel NewsAsia: Group of bloggers to protest against new MDA licensing framework at Hong Lim

Gregory Leow, Commentary: Outcry over MDA’s ruling not just about censorship

 Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

Gerald Giam: Internet regulation deja vu

Teo Soh Lung, That We May Dream Again (FB status update): Some random thoughts on MDA new rules by Teo Soh Lung

Kirsten Han, Storify: #FreeMyInternet – Singapore’s online community mobilises against new licensing regime

LIFT, Limpeh is Foreign Talent: A view from the UK on Singapore’s latest censorship episode

Jentrified Citizen: Why is our government treating us like the enemy?

TR Emeritus: Join the ‘Free My Internet’ movement to protest against MDA’s new online regulations

Jeanette Chong Aruldoss, In My Own Words: My thoughts on the new MDA licensing regime

Cheryl Marie Tay, Publichouse: Reading ‘the right thing’ under wrong circumstances

2 June 2013, Sunday

Eugene Wee, The New Paper: Licensing for news websites: Parity but no clarity

Tessa Wong, Straits Times: Netizens to protest against MDA rule (No link)

Kirsten Han, Yahoo!News: Comment: #FreeMyInternet – Why the big hoo-ha?

PAP’s Baey Yam Keng’s Facebook chat, where he is asked questions about the MDA regulations

Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

Dr. Wong Wee Nam, Publichouse: Is the PAP government going back to its old ways?

Jentrified Citizen: Why support the ‘Free My Internet’ Movement Against Internet Censorship?

Belmont Lay, Yahoo!News: Comment: How to deal with MDA’s licensing scheme

(VIDEO) kry8Films: MDA Rocks?!

Bertha Henson, Bertha Harian: Calling out the MDA

Eve, thebottomsupblog:Click, It’s My Week

LIFT, Limpeh is Foreign Talent: #FreeMyInternet: Hong Lim Park, 8 June 2013

3 June 2013, Monday

KiniTV: Gov’t to study feasibility of regulating online portals (Malaysia)

BBC: Internet censorship around the world

The Glocal: 受港媒及學民啓發 星九十後實名時評

AFP: Singapore bloggers to protest Internet restrictions

Channel NewsAsia: Questions on national identity, integration dominate Pre-U Seminar (plus a question on the MDA regulations)

Kirsten Han, Al Jazeera: Singapore: Internet freedom under threat

(RADIO program) ABC Australia: Singapore’s new website licensing seen as censorship

Leonard Lim and Tessa Wong, Straits Times (Reproduced on asiaone): New rules ‘will make netizens more cynical’ (Interview with Siew Kum Hong)

Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

Jillian C. York, Electronic Frontier Foundation: Singaporean Websites Must Pay To Mention Singapore… And Not Mention Gay People At All

Z’ming Cik, Facebook Note: Singapore’s Public Spheres – Between Keyboard Warriors and V for Vendetta in Hong Lim Park

Tan Wah Piow, Facebook Status Update: The real reason behind the Internet Crackdown

TR Emeritus: MDA Saga: MP Baey indirectly reveals the redundancy of GPCs

Global Voices: ‘Free My Internet’ Movement Rises in Singapore

Visakan Veerasamy, MDA licensing inspires active citzenry…in protest against it #FreeMyInternet: Blogger in Singapur machen gegen Zensur mobil

4 June 2013, Tuesday

MARUAH, Straits Times Forum: Laws already exist to regulate news websites

Dr. Vincent Tan Yan Fu, Straits Times Forum: Internet cannot and should not be regulated

TODAY: Students discuss issues – from education to licensing

TODAY: People should continue airing views online: Tan Chuan-Jin

TODAY: New MDA licensing regime is still ‘light touch regulation’: Yaacob

(VIDEO) Talking Point: Licensing News Sites, Will It Work? (Panelists: Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin, Prof Arun Mahizhnan from the Institute of Policy Studies and Bertha Henson, editor of The Breakfast Network)

Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

Andrew Loh, #FreeMyInternet – Internet regulations saga takes bizarre turn

LIFT, Limpeh is Foreign Talent: MDA wants to expand the Broadcast Act next year

Bertha Henson, Breakfast Network: Breakfast Network on Talking Point tonight

Leong Sze Hian, MDA: Send fireman to fight soldier’s battle – Older PMETs’ woes?

Kirsten Han, #spuddings: MDA’s licensing scheme: So many questions, no real answers

(VIDEO) kry8Films: MDA’s lovely policy. What if?

Alex Au, CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists): Singapore bloggers wary of news site license scheme

New Nation: No real Talking Point, just blah blah blah blah

New Asia Republic: Why MDA’s licensing rule can be a credibility own goal

5 June 2013, Wednesday

Tessa Wong and Leonard Lim, Straits Times: Govt will maintain light touch on Internet, says Yaacob (No link)

Tan Weizhen, TODAY: New regime will not limit public discourse: Yaacob

Amir Hussain, TODAY: Regulation aimed at ‘a level of responsibility’ for those reporting news

S Ramesh, TODAY: Yahoo! breaks silence on MDA licensing scheme

Alan Soon, Yahoo!News: What Singapore really needs

Imelda Saad Aziz, TODAY: Prominent bloggers to stage “internet blackout”

Wall Street Journal: Yahoo Raps Singapore

Leonard Lim, Singapolitics: Yahoo indicates that it will abide by new MDA rules

The Economist: Regulating Singapore’s internet – two steps back

WSJ: Yahoo indicates that it will abide by new MDA rules

Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

Kirsten Han, Facebook Note: MDA’s licensing scheme – is it anything like the others?

Howard Lee, The Online Citizen: MDA’s new regulation – an absolute failure in public service

The Online Citizen: Minister Tan Chuan-Jin confirms why Licensing Regime must be withdrawn

Choo Zheng Xi, The Online Citizen: Dr Yaacob’s incorrect and embarrassing New Zealand comparison

Bryan Cheng, Kent Ridge Common: Internet Freedom Is Vital to Individual Liberty

Siew Kum Hong, Why the new MDA online licensing framework is censorship

SDP: MDA regulations will curb online activity during elections

Raymond Lau, techgoondu: Singapore bloggers stage 24-hour ‘blackout’ to protest media regulation

Mong Palatino, The Diplomat: Singapore Tightens Grip on News Websites

Bertha Henson, Breakfast Network: Licence scheme: Anwers not very good leh

Roy, The Heart Truths: Singapore’s Very Own Voting Blackout! #FreeMyInternet Now!

Biddy Low, Publichouse: Students call for dialogue with Minister Yaacob Ibrahim

Visakan Veerasamy, The Online Citizen: MDA licensing inspires active citizenry… in protest against it

(VIDEO): Master Brown don’t have $50K

(VIDEO) MunahHirziOfficial: Sex Appeal & Jokes: Free My Internet

6 June 2013, Thursday

Leonard Lim, Straits Times: Yahoo S’pore to comply with new licence rules

Tan Weizhen, TODAY: Yahoo! Singapore will abide by MDA’s licensing framework

 Jeanette Tan, Yahoo!News: Singapore bloggers black out sites in protest of MDA licensing scheme

Tan Weizhen, TODAY: ‘Free My Internet’ blackout draws diverse range of participants

Aloysius Low, c/net Asia: Singapore Web sites blackout to protest online censorship

Bhavan Jaipragas, AFP: Web ‘blackout’ in Singapore to protest new online rules (also in the Jakarta Globe)

Calvin Cheng, Yahoo!News: COMMENT: Keep calm and carry on posting

Hidayah Salamat, I-S Magazine: #FreeMyInternet blackout now on through 11.59pm tonight

#FreeMyInternet event at Hong Lim Park featured in TimeOut Singapore’s event listings!

Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

LIFT, The Real Singapore: Sorry But I Am Not Turning My Blog Off Today

Ying Cong, Facebook Note: Response to the article “COMMENT: Keep calm and carry on posting”

Jentrified Citizen: Singapore Bloggers’ First Blackout Protest a Success

7 June 2013, Friday

Tan Weizhen, TODAY: Food and parenting blogs join Free My Internet blackout

Rob O’Brien, mumbrella: Why are Singapore’s bloggers making such a fuss about new rules for online reporting?

Newsdesk Asia: Rights body asks Singapore to withdraw ‘onerous’ online rule

Chiu Pearce, Yahoo!News: Human rights group urges Singapore to pull web licensing scheme

Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

Elaine Ee, Publichouse: Singapore once had a free press

A Yummy Slice of Life: Between Arbitrary and Benevolence

Ng Yi-Sheng, Facebook Note: An open letter to Dr Yaacob bin Ibrahim and his fellow PAP Members of Parliament

Lynn Lee, Lianain Films: Do the Right Thing, #FreeMyInternet

Ng E-Jay, Bloggers showed solidarity in the Thursday blackout protest

Lim Jialiang, Facebook Note: Be Proud

Article 14: It is not about the Internet alone. We need to free the media as a whole.

(VIDEO) Rachel Zeng: Free My Internet


Human Rights Watch: Singapore: Licensing Regime Chills News Climate

Forum-Asia, SEAPA SEACEM, Think Centre: Joint Press Statement 7 June 2013 Singapore: Withdraw Repressive Licensing Regime of Online News Sites

8 June 2013, Saturday

Sharon Chen & Sanat Vallikappen, Bloomberg: Singapore Bloggers Protest Licensing Rules for News Websites

Saifulbahri Ismail, TODAY: Protesters gather at Speakers’ Corner over new online rules

Bangkok Post: Singapore net curbs assailed ‘Free My Internet’: Hundreds march in Singapore against website licensing regime (PHOTOS)

(VIDEO) Channel News Asia: 2,000 protestors gather at Speakers’ Corner over new online rules – 08Jun2013

Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

Bertha Henson, Breakfast Network: Hong Lim Park: Online protest goes offline

9 June 2013, Sunday

Ilsa Chan, xinmsnnews: 2,500 gather at Speakers’ Corner to protest new Internet rules

AFP, New York Times: Singapore Clamps Down on News Web Sites

Blogs/Alternative News Sites, etc.

Breakfast Network: Speaking for our Internet (Photos of speakers at Hong Lim Park)

TR Emeritus: Photo Essay 1:#FreeMyInternet Protest (8 June 2013)

Nei, Sayoni: MDA Rule Change: Why the LGBTQ Community Should Care

10 June 2013, Monday

Elizabeth Low, MDA’s Online Crackdown: What’s The Damage

SDP: Push for media freedom important

 11 June 2013,  Tuesday

Melissa Tsang, The Online Citizen: The public reacts to the new licensing scheme


#FreeMyInternet: #FreeMyInternet – Movement against new licensing requirements for online media

Some ideas here, on Write to Think, Singapore:


Jeanette Tan, Yahoo!News: Most S’poreans against Internet censorshop: survey

Lauren Kirchner, Colombia Journalism Review: Self-Regulation Done Right

Richard Borsuk, Asian Wall Street Journal: Singapore to punish foreign broadcasters accused of interfering in domestic politics