Saturday, April 21, 2012

Face it, PM

It's nothing new, really. Since Mr George Yeo went a blogging some YEARS ago, the trend for other government-types to go online was inevitable. For those who have read George Yeo's blog, it was, well, rather officious. It adopted the civil service style of writing - para 1, para 2, para 3...But it caught netizens' attention, nevertheless. The blogging Minister.

Now no less than Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore, has taken to fronting his own FB page. That's great, though he is late to the game. Nevertheless, within a day (or less), his FB page has garnered more than 20,000 likes, though I don't know what there is about it to like at this point in time. Even the Wall Street Journal has seen fit to publish the event. I suppose power attracts, or you just want to be seen hobnobbing with the rich, the powerful, the famous/infamous and the politicians. PM Lee fits all of these descriptors so it is no wonder the overwhelming strength of the magnet of the man. As an aside, George Yeo's Facebook likes lead PM Lee's by a wide berth. But this is to be expected. George has had a head start.

Frankly, I couldn't care less about whether he's had his dinner, but apparently many in Singapore have no other past time than to kay-poh and boast to one and all about when he/she learnt that LHL has had his dinner. Now don't get me wrong. I am not belittling anyone, not least the PM. He has done himself a favour by engaging his stakeholders on the universe's most significant media. Not through a group of admins who purport to speak on his behalf.

But, and this seems never too far away - the perceived threat of action against detractors and abusers of LHL's FB page. No, the law of the internet does not apply. Singapore's Laws do. Just read the House Rules on his FB page, reproduced below for your convenience.

I don't think those were LHL's words. Perhaps his lawyer's, or some smarts in the PMO. But you will agree with me that those words sound ominous.

Yes, Prime Minister! No dirty or abusive words. Otherwise...

OK, we get it.

Somehow these words just take away some of the personal feel of the page. I doubt any netizen puts up those kind of rules. It is live and let live on the internet. You want to join in, then you have to be prepared for the occasional abuse. I have been abused before, and called all manner of the most un-nice things when I took a position that basically agreed with the government's stand. You don't really have to send your lawyers after them. There is a certain intelligence of the crowd, or rather decency of the crowd. On balance, we look after each other. We will wack down anyone who is abusive, unfair, unreasonable and downright abnoxious, no expensive lawyers needed. You just have to trust the crowd, Prime Minister. Look at George. No threats. No House Rules. And he is doing just fine.

Welcome to the Wild Wild Web.

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