What did they leave out?

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On the aftermath of the BlogTV.SG event with George Yeo

So, you have seen the “Big Boys Blogging” episode last night in BlogTV.SG. Honestly, I have moved on immediately after the report on the event to the Singapore Angle team and the teaser. When I decided to go on the show, I was under no illusion in thinking that engaging in such a conversation with our minister for foreign affairs, George Yeo will make a big difference in our lives. At the very least, it provided me (a private citizen) an opportunity to have a decent and frank conversation with the minister, while at the same time, see and judge for ourselves after the show whether the feedback and criticisms from the other bloggers on BlogTV.SG are valid.

The whole event took about three hours to film, but the whole show on TV is only reduced down to about 23-25 minutes. The segment involving Gayle and myself in the discussion was only about 40 minutes. So, the question that is burning in your mind, “Is there any controversial comment or remark that was not disclosed in the final version of the show?” The answer is no. However, there are some talking points which are omitted and reproduced here:

  1. “As a public blogger, are you afraid of being misinterpreted? Sometimes, it can be propagated as falsehoods, how will you deal with it?”: His answer to this question posed by me was candid and simple and goes along the lines that if you are prepared to be a public blogger, you should be prepared to handle such situations. However, our minister did not offer any solution if such a problem would arise.
  2. The use of new media to engage young and older voters: George Yeo spoke about the need to educate older voters on the use of internet. He raised the example that it would be difficult for the younger bloggers to teach the older generation and thought that he might be able to bridge the gap by setting an example to learn how to do it. This is the actual precursor to the question which Gayle and I posed later to him on the relaxation of new media for political parties in Singapore.

To the credit of BlogTV.SG (perhaps with some nudging from us in the teaser), they did not censor the most interesting part in the whole discussion. That was George Yeo’s answer to my follow-up question on whether the opposition will be allowed to use the tools of the new media in the future, given the ruling party is adopting these tools to engage the voters. It does confirm our suspicion that the establishment is planning to relax the control of the internet. After all, they have been dropping hints since the PM’s rally speech last year. Yet I remain skeptical until the official word from the government is out on the issue of freedom of expression in the internet.

Given my previous experience coupled with misgivings from the other bloggers, I should count myself lucky that I was not misquoted on both occasions (including the previous ST roundtable). Even saying so, I still advocate that we should speak truth to power in the blogosphere if our views are distorted or misrepresented in any way. It is up to the individual blogger to decide whether to turn up for such events. My final opinion is that we, the bloggers have the advantage of the last word and giving our version of the story will make it difficult for the mainstream media to spin their story.

Acknowledgments: I thank the whole Singapore Angle Team for their support and encouragement before and after the event, the BlogTV crew for their hospitality and the hosts (Xue Ling and Flying Dutchman), Gayle and George Yeo for an interesting discussion which transpired in Brewerkz last Wednesday (3 Jan 2007).

Update: See Gayle Goh for her last word on the issue and some extra segments of the whole interview can be found in BlogTV.SG site.

This is a follow up post to this article: A teaser to Big Boys’ Blogging.

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Bernard Leong

A Pragmatic Idealist