Thursday, February 5, 2009

Government in cyberspace - Rear-Admiral Lui Tuck Yew

I'm afraid Senior Minister of State Rear-Admiral Lui Tuck Yew's rant was neither rational nor admirable. Sadly it may kinda reflect the gahment's view of the world - sanitized, monolithic and 'proper'. Surely Senior Minister of State Rear Admiral Lui Tuck Yew must know that cyberspace is not only populated by a diverse group of people, but that the loudest voices are usually those with extreme views or those with an axe to grind. Most rational voices tend to remain relative silent. But that's the nature of cyberspace. And and that's also the beauty of it.

Ironically Admiral Lui's tirade against the failure of cyberspace to 'self-regulate' points an accusatory finger at Admiral Lui himself and the gahment, because it reflects upon the failure of themselves and their proxies to effectively engage cyberspace. It is no point pontificating from some isolated mountain top as if you are an oracle. Gahment and officialdom has a responsibility to also engage its citizenry at their lowest levels even if they deem it beneath them. How do you shape people's ideas if you don't engage them where they are? You don't organize meet the people sessions in the posh offices in city hall do you? You need to go on more walkabouts, sit in coffeeshops. Likewise, gahment's invisibility in the apparent chaos and squalor of cyberspace perpetuates an unbalanced circulation of extreme and negative views. I am not refering to the occasional interjections of officious statements, but the participation of gahment and their representatives in presenting rational and balanced arguments that has real strength, and that will shape the opinions in cyberspace. If your arguments are sound what are you afraid of?

The Straits Times carried an editorial 2 days ago which also brought into focus some of these issues.

The question I want to ask Admiral Lui is this...does the gahment want to engage its citizenry...or does it expect its citizens to engage it? The answer will make clear where the appropriate places of engagement might the apparent chaos of cyberspace...or in some officious sterile chatrooms.

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