6 July, 2006

Four Million Fingers

Singapore’s godfather of blogging, mr brown, has just been suspended as a columnist for the Today newspaper after the Ministry of Information and Culture (MICA) objected to his previous column.

Although AP is not a citizen, he was a long-term resident of the Lion City and has a strong affinity for the place. AP is outraged by the treatment of mr brown, a personal friend.

AP also objects because the government has again, through its oversensitivity and brutishness, embarrassed Singapore and its people.

The Singapore government says citizens should not offer criticisms unless they offer solutions. With that AP offers the following criticism and an accompanying solution:

Inspired by the government’s four million smile campaign, AsiaPundit would like to propose the Four Million Finger movement. He urges readers to display their outrage in the method illustrated below. Photos and posts will show up on Technorati and when tagged ‘fourmillionfingers.’


In order to help better attain the four-million-finger mark, AsiaPundit encourages the use of the two-finger salute, illustrated below on Ministry of Information spokeswoman Krishnasamy Bhavani.:


Ms Bhavani is president of the Institute of Public Relations of Singapore, which offers diploma and professional certificates in PR and mass communication. AsiaPundit will suggest that the current travesty offers a great case study for the institute: “Bhavani v. Brown: How to create an embarrassing global incident by cracking down on an innocuous columnist.”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have issued a statement condemning the Singapore government.:

It is not the job of government officials to take a position on newspaper articles or blog posts unless they are clearly illegal, Reporters Without Borders pointed out today after the Singaporean newspaper Today published an opinion piece by an official on 3 July condemning a recent post by blogger Lee Kin Mun as over-politicised and unconstructive.

“This reaction from a Singaporean official is disturbing,” the press freedom organisation said. “It reads like a warning to all journalists and bloggers in a country in which the media are already strictly controlled. The media have a right to criticise the government’s actions and express political views. Furthermore, a newspaper’s editorial policies depend solely on its editors. They should under no circumstances be subject to instructions issued by the government.”

Lee, who uses the pseudonym “mr brown,” wrote an article entitled “S’poreans are fed, up with progress!” for Today’s opinion pages on 30 June in which he criticised recent government measures and the constant cost-of-living rises in an amusing and acerbic fashion.

Krishnasamy Bhavani, a press secretary to the ministry of information, communications and arts, responded with an article published in Today on 3 July in which she defended her government’s policies but went on to criticise Lee for taking a political position.

RSF issued the above statement yesterday, before it was revealed that mr brown would be suspended.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

by @ 7:18 pm. Filed under Blogs, Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, Censorship

11 Responses to “Four Million Fingers”

  1. balex Says:

    AP, could you share your feelings about why you have affinity to Singapore,
    although you only stayed in Singapore for sometime.

  2. tigerjoe Says:

    I would have thought that MICA were only exercising their right of reply to Mr. Brown’s post. Unless we are menat to disregard that essential complement to “freedom of expression / speech” when Government or Establishment bodies / personalities are involved.


  3. myrick Says:

    Joe, I had initially hoped that it was just the PAP excercising its ‘right of reply’ but the suspension of mrbrown is much more than that. On top of killing mr b’s column, Today has not run even one of the numerous letters they recieved in response to the MICA letter (i.e., after the PAP has used its ‘right of reply,’ Singapore’s citizens have no ‘right of counter-reply’).
    The government is not just seeking a right to reply, they are seeking to censor, silence and intimmidate potential critics.

  4. The Peking Duck Says:

    Mr. Brown’s column suspended by Singapore censors…

    Mr. Brown and I used to trade emails now and then when I lived in Singapore, so this story is particularly galling to me. I suspect, the censors are going to deeply regret it. Mr. Brown’s following is even larger……

  5. Kevin Says:

    Myrick, that’s pretty fierce… I wonder what other “four million things” Singaporeans have to say about our current administration. :P

  6. hollisbrown Says:

    Singapore is a dictatorship and its people are sheep. When are they going to wake up?

  7. rob Says:

    I’ve heard stories about the Singaporean Government’s shady tactics. This looks embarassing indeed for Singapore.
    Rob, UK

  8. Scott Says:

    Singaporeans will probably only wake up when the hundreds of thousands of students wake up from their own little picture world painted by the Singaporean government and take an interest in things that are more important than night clubs and neo prints. I agree that the government has struck too hard this time and it is due time to use this situation to illustrate to otherwise ‘freedom-illiterate’ Singaporeans our immense lack of freedom.

  9. AsiaPundit » Blog Archive » The Intelligence of Lee Hsien Loong Says:

    […] It’s a shame that the government does not allow its citizens the right to a counter response when MICA drafts letters criticizing the opinions of Singapore’s private citizens. […]

  10. Imagethief Says:

    Relentlessly criticize Mr. Brown…

    This page would like to congratulate the government of Singapore for taking prompt action to rein in……

  11. AsiaPundit » Blog Archive » The PAP’s Disconnect Says:

    […] Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mentioned mr brown, and the government’s role in his termination from the Today newspaper, in the recent National Day address. A Singapore Angle has the transcript, with the below passage: So I give you the example of Mr Brown’s column in Today. Some of you may have read it, some of you may not. But it hit out wildly at the government and in a very mocking and dismissive sort of tone. So MICA [Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts] replied. How can you not reply? And some Singaporeans feel we were too harsh, we should have been gentler, or maybe just even accepted it, it is just niceness, he didn’t mean us any harm. […]

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