I have to admit, I like The Real Singapore (TRS)... on Facebook.
Ooh, will someone make a police report against me for sedition?
TRS has been in the spotlight recently after The New Paper broke the news that two people believed to be behind the socio-political website were arrested under the Sedition Act for posting remarks online “that could promote ill will and hostility among the different races in Singapore” and are released on bail.
In the wake of the news, Yahoo Singapore reported that the arrests received “more cheers than jeers online”.
Too bad the same thing can’t be said for the Neil Patrick Harris-hosted Oscar show last Sunday.
But one TRS fan tweeted support with the hashtag #RIPfreedomofspeech, even though the website appears to be carrying on as usual as if nothing has happened. So let’s hold off on the “freedom of speech” eulogies for now, shall we?
(MAY 2015 UPDATE: TRS has been shut down by the Government. Ouch.)
@RealSingapore Your fans are still with you. #therealsingapore #RIPfreedomofspeech
— Mohamed Firdaus (@mikeferdy) February 17, 2015
After all, this is the website that survived an online petition to shut it down last year. What’s a couple of police arrests? (Waves hand dismissively.)
The petition alleged:
“TRS has been posting articles which incite fear, hatred and xenophobia. On many occasions, it has also plagiarised work and altered content without the initial owner's explicit permission.”
The “inciting xenophobia” part is a bit ironic as Mr Brown pointed out on Twitter about the two arrested: “One of them is actually a foreigner. Quick, TRS! Say something xenophobic about FTs!”
So why do I “like” TRS on Facebook if it posts articles that “incite fear, hatred and xenophobia”?
Because it doesn't post only articles that “incite fear, hatred and xenophobia”.
For example, on Friday, TRS posted an article about how sleeping too much could raise the risk of stroke.
Sure, the article (copied and pasted from CBSNews.com) may incite fear of sleeping too much, but I found the article particularly pertinent because I really sleep a lot.
On the same day, TRS also shared the viral photo of The Dress That Broke The Internet because people couldn’t agree on what colour it is.
Even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared it on Facebook.
Like the PM, I say it’s white and gold, but since Mindef is making it more difficult to get the Gold Award in the new IPPT format, the dress could just be white and silver.
So you see, TRS isn't all about inciting fear, hatred and xenophobia. It also alerts me to the latest hooey that netizens are obsessing about.
Sure, I get the occasional obscenity-laden video of commuters fighting on public transport, but that's just a bonus.
Actually, I have a more personal reason for following TRS on Facebook.
Remember how the “Shut down TRS” online petition also alleged that TRS “plagiarised work” without the owner’s permission?
I am the owner of one such work.
Last November, TRS took one of my blog posts and reproduced the whole thing on its website.
It wasn’t exactly plagiarism since TRS did credit me as the author and provided a link to my blog, but TRS never asked for my permission.
I wasn’t sure how I felt or what to do about it.
On the one hand, I don’t want anyone to mistakenly think that I am a voluntary contributor to TRS.
On the other hand, I was flattered that TRS deemed my blog post worthy enough to reproduce without permission, even though my blog post about the inefficacy of online petitions didn't incite hatred for anything except perhaps online petitions.
Hey, maybe TRS reproduced my blog post because it’s no fan of online petitions too.
But do I really want to be associated with a website that even Mr Brown thinks is xenophobic?
On the other hand, according to SimilarWeb.com, TRS has an estimated 2.9 million monthly visits, which is 300 times more than what my blog gets.
Getting that kind of web traffic is like winning the Hong Bao Draw in blogger terms.
Not that my blog got any visits from the TRS link. But the potential readership!
(Even tnp.sg has only 1.2 million monthly visits, but straitstimes.com has 8.6 million.)
Maybe I should be more upset I’m not getting a piece of TRS’ ad revenue they’re supposedly bragging about.
In the end, I did nothing about TRS stealing my content — but I’m keeping an eye on the website to see if it does it again.
Is it too late for me to make a police report since people seem to be making police reports about all sorts of things nowadays?
Just let me take a nap first.
- Published in The New Paper, 1 March 2015
Dear S M Ong and TNP
Thank you for the article and a Return kind gesture to you
Saw S M Ong's handsome cartoon face on his page 'What am I doing here?'(Sunday/ TNP 1/3/2015) and got hooked to his debate on the color of his dress article (Big news as every Press and even TV News broadcast it!) though I of course , does not wear one (as a man).
As a contributor for your Forum 'Your Views' page throughout the years (You can check my TNP's account) I would like to thank TNP especially SM Ong for continue supporting 1 of my article on the 'Yellow Ribbon' Beauty Queen Boomz by suggesting to 'Tie that Yellow Ribbon round her' and thus, render my return support for his article in these 2 ways:
1. Although you state that you are not a contributor of TRS by choice but your quote of 'WHAT am I doing here?' (TNP 1/3/2015) has kindly supported the title of my 'World Heritage cum Arts Treasure' (WHAT) exhibition for SG 50. (Yes, Singaporean's are famous for asking What? What? and more What?) and would thus like to include you in my SMC (Social Media Consultancy). Don't worry, the police will not be looking for you as even the National Leaders have joined my club!
2. I am also very impressed that Ong can turn the perspective of physical White and Gold color into another mental perspective of Gold representing army's physical fitness award, which is hard to achieve and settle for Silver instead. We all know which Political Party 'White color' stands for and would like to confirm and double confirm that Gold color here stands for Singapore's 50th 'Gold-en jubilee' which is also part of my WHAT project. (So kindly don't change PM's wise choice color. We can also consider making it Singapore's official 'dress code' color for 2015. Ha!)
Will email you on WHAT project launch date and Happy Golden Jubilee Yr 2015 to TNP
Principal Consultant of Social Media Consultancy
Retired Long service award Politician