What did they leave out?

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.

A Teaser to “Big Boys Blogging”

Call this a strange coincidence or just luck: each time I meet a politician in some event, I ended up sitting down with him or her in a roundtable or interview weeks later in the mainstream media. The last time that happened was with Penny Low. Our meeting during the ST political roundtable was anticipated by a social entrepreneurship event a week earlier. Similarly, my meeting with George Yeo at BlogTV.SG was foreshadowed by a meeting in a coffee session three weeks earlier.

The invitation from BlogTV.SG was circulated to the group on 27 December by KTM. Turns out that Huichieh received the same invitation on 26 December but was then busy with the migration to Movable Type. As usual, I was arrowed, though there was much discussion among ourselves regarding possible questions, most of which were unused. On hindsight, considering that these were rather substantive sort of questions, they probably don’t belong on the show given its format anyway.

We were well aware of the misgivings that various bloggers voiced concerning such events. Nonetheless, we figured that it’s best to form a judgment after we see things for ourselves. After all, there is a sense in which bloggers possess the last word to what transpired in such events; at minimum, we can always present our versions. Besides, the famous Gayle Goh was going too (I knew because she rang me up for possible questions beforehand).

Due to a gentleman’s agreement that we will not tell our story until after the show is aired next Tuesday, I will only provide a teaser based on my earlier encounter with George Yeo on 4 Dec 2006 (check out this earlier article on my personal blog). But this much I will say: there was a somewhat surprising comment from George Yeo during the BlogTV.SG interview and I am pretty curious to see whether it will be aired in the final version. I was told that they will place the extra excerpts of the interview on the site. That is all I will say until the show airs next Tuesday.

Related Links (Update):
[1] George Yeo, “BlogTV Experience”. The picture above is from Ephraim’s blog.
[2] Gayle Goh, “On Meeting George Yeo”.
[3] BL, “Big Boys Blogging” at Brewerkz”.
[4] Rambling Librarian, ” Yet another missed opportunity to be on BlogTV.SG”.
[5] Mr Wang, “Starring BG George Yeo & Mr Wang? Nah”
[6] Kway Teow Man, On Happiness, Expectations and Freedom of Expression.
[7] Cognitive Dissonance, Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.
[8] Elia Diodati, Engaging a Politician: Your Danse Macabre .

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Recently, two unrelated events happen at the same time. The first was about a man named Mr Tan in his forties commiting suicide by jumping off onto the mass rapid transit tracks. The man in forties was a working class man. He was jobless and had a family to feed. He left behind nothing now except his wife and his kids. The second was about a young and bright student named Wee Shu Min who wrote an emotive, insensitive and snobbish response to Derek Wee who was lamenting about the state of affairs in Singapore. For her remarks, she was criticised by various bloggers (Aaron, Ben, Elia, Kitana, Wee Kiat and of course, everyone from Sammyboy Forums). Her background as the daughter of a member of parliament and a student from the top junior college (RJC) have further ignited the flames. In any case, if everyone take a step back, the whole fiasco is just about the misadventures of a young spolit brat.

Continue reading Two Singapores