A Fat Dancer On Thin Ice

Singapore government is well-known for its no nonsense approach regarding slander and defamation against it. It is highly sensitive towards anyone who dares to cast aspersions on its credibility and integrity and its normal recourse is through libel suit. This is a well-known fact.

Yet there are still people who have become the subject of litigation. Most recently is political blogger Roy Ngerng. Roy has been served with a letter of demand by PM Lee for his blog which alleged that PM Lee has misappropriated CPF monies. He has been asked to remove the offending article, post an apology on his blog and pay for the legal costs.

As expected, there are people who have come out to lend their support to Roy. Some said that he should fight the case because he is representing free speech, amongst other things. They are trying to turn him into a hero somewhat; a symbol of the fight against what they deem as a reprehensible government. They can be likened to a group of people goading a village idiot to confront the king and then watch silently as he is hanged for treason. Others have accused the government of muzzling political dissention and they poured scorn on the government for suing its own citizens.

Meanwhile Roy has portrayed himself as the helpless victim; someone who is wrongfully persecuted for simply wanting transparency from the government. But what he and his supporters should have realised by now is the government’s ultra-sensitivity about malicious and unsubstantiated attacks on its integrity. And they should also have realised that not all criticisms will result in court action. If that was the case, Roy and the many other political bloggers and websites that are critical of the government would have long ceased to exist. But that is not the case because the government is only targeting libellous contents.

Therefore critics of the government are like dancing on thin ice. It is an art involving a delicate balancing act between fact and fiction, and between objectivity and slander. One needs to know when to spin, jump and glide without falling through the ice into the cold precipice below.

For Roy Ngerng, he is just a clumsy fat dancer who was too careless to grasp the thickness of the ice he was dancing on and had misjudged his pirouette.



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