Saturday, 10 August 2013

False info online a "threat to Total Defence"

S’pore must be on guard against online threats
S’pore must be on guard against online threats
False information could spread far and wide, causing confusion: Defence Minister

There is a new threat on the horizon that could hamper Singapore’s Total Defence efforts: The distorted or false information, rumours and smears that emanate from the Internet.

Warning against these yesterday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said such distortions could spread far and wide and even cause confusion and chaos, weakening the country’s resolve and causing disunity.

“You would think that in this day and age, where information could be sent out, it would be easier to communicate,” he said at the Total Defence Symposium. “It is actually the reverse.”

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Who’s the little drummer boy? 

Will the beating of drums drown out the voice of the G? Dr Ng Eng Hen seems to think so, going by what he said at a Total Defence Symposium on Friday.

Drums on the internet – distortions, rumours, untruths, misinformation and smears – was the new threat, he declared. They can spread far and wide, and cause confusion and chaos. “Those who would do us harm will purposely start DRUMS to weaken our resolve and cause disunity,” he added.

Pretty serious words indeed coming from someone no less than the Defence minister using a symposium on Total Defence as his platform. Now Total Defence is not just about military might, if anyone still remembers. It includes social, economic and psychological defence as well. The model is that of a hand which when clenched, as in the times of national crisis, would form a closed fist supposed to deal the knock-out punch.

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Is our Government beating the “War” Drum? Pa-rum Pum Pum
Who is Drumming to spread fear?
Who is Drumming to spread fear?

In my previous blog post, I had asked if our overly sensitive Government  had declared “war” on alternative online news sites and on Singaporean bloggers who criticise them. I had used the word war as a metaphor to describe their stepped up attacks and controls on the Internet. Then lo and behold, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen spoke to the press yesterday and referred to the online world as a threat to the security of Singapore! And he (presumably with the blessings of the cabinet) and the Mindef team even came up with the acronym DRUMS to describe this online monster threat. DRUMS stand for (cue drum roll)…”Distortions, Rumours, Untruths, Misinformation and Smears”! (Ok I just gotta ask, so is Drums caused by Drummers?)

Dr Ng warned (cue drumroll again) that DRUMS is a new threat on the horizon that could hamper Singapore’s Total Defence efforts and he said such distortions could spread far and wide and even cause confusion and chaos, weakening the country’s resolve and causing disunity. Sounds too incredulous to be believed? Click on this link and read the news report if you need proof he actually said this

Seriously, should we be scared when the DEFENCE Minister says online comments should be viewed as a national threat? His words sound ominous – for the netizens and bloggers I mean , not about netizens being a national threat. We had better pay attention when the defence minister refers to something as a threat right? After all, he is the one controlling all the big guns and fire power in the country.

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The DRUMS of War

Many bloggers are still very uncomfortable with Eng Hen’s comment on the internet and the acronym DRUMS, meaning Distortions, Rumours, Untruths, Misinformation and Smears, that can spread far and wide in the internet.

As this came closely after the new licensing laws on websites, it is natural for bloggers to feel that both are inter related and a concerted effort by the Govt to curb internet freedom. Some fear that this is like the Govt declaring war on bloggers and netizens.

One underlying assumption is that DRUMS could be spread in the internet to undermine the Govt, or aiming at discrediting the Govt, or be simply anti Govt. Another assumption is that this would be the works of Sinkies to a great extent. The other more dangerous and expected part is that DRUMS could come from external sources which would be more direct in many cases, or in disguise and subtle as the works of the Sinkies

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Ng Eng Hen: Online threat to Total Defence

This was in my face in the front from the daily ST I get everyday. In the hard copy it was buried deeply in page B8


A clear shot across the bow but I suppose it missed the target audience since they mostly do not read the MSM especially the ST.

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Dr Ng Eng Hen is surprised that Singaporean youths are bringing up serious issues at Singapore Conversation session

Comment: Dr Ng, bread-and-butter issues are no laughing matter!

Bread-and-butter issues such as competition for jobs, housing costs and maternity leave were the main focus of an Our Singapore Conversation session held yesterday. This would not have been unusual - except that the forum was held for youth.

Toh Qin Ying, 17, told The Sunday Times that she started being concerned about these "adult" issues after being exposed to them through the media. "I was watching the news and heard that housing prices are soaring. It's quite scary," the Anderson Junior College student said. "We have to be mature at this age. We're stepping into our 20s soon, (we) cannot still think like primary school kids."

Asked if he was surprised that the young crowd was bringing up such mature issues, Dr Ng laughed. "I guess Singaporeans are very serious, or maybe just this crowd is very serious, I don't know." Full story

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