Friday, February 22, 2013

Manfacturing Dissent

It's frightening, the extent to which some people would distort the truth to stir up ill sentiments in others.

Yesterday evening, as a somewhat avid reader of the "SAF Confessions" Facebook page, I saw on the page the following "confession".

Original confession on SAF Confessions

Hours later, clicking on a link shared by my friend on Facebook, I arrived at the following article on "The Real Singapore" (TRS) site (the article has apparently been taken down but it is cached here).

Edited confession on TRS

And, returning back to the "SAF Confessions" page, I saw this status update by the administrator of the page.

Clarification by SAF Confessions administrator

Evidently, someone had saw the original confession on the "SAF Confessions" Facebook page, copied it, edited it to make it appears as though the woman mentioned was from mainland China and then sent/posted the edited confession to the TRS site.

Although the intention of this "editor" cannot be confirmed with certainty, he or she quite probably deliberately and maliciously intended the edited confession to stir up ill sentiments in readers of it against those of a particular nationality, if not against foreigners in general, in Singapore. Judging from the comments made in response to the edited confession (two comments talked about using a fully loaded SAR21 rifle or a General Purpose Machine Gun to shoot and kill the "PRC woman"), the "editor" appears to have achieved such an aim.

It is most worrying that even as a significant number of people express their distrust of the reporting by Singaporean mainstream media and dismiss such reporting as "state propaganda", they are flocking to sites, such as TRS, which present a distorted or biased representation while purporting to provide "media coverage without censorship". Years ago, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky wrote the book "Manufacturing Consent" to discuss and examine how the U.S. mass media propagate ideology. Now, it is perhaps apt to write a book on "manufacturing dissent".

Do not be mistaken. I am not a hardcore supporter of the local mainstream media or of the immigration policy as it was. I am however a proponent of objective, rational, fair and honest discourse. When it comes to presenting a slanted representation of reality, I suppose some "alternative media" sites are also guilty of such a transgression.

By all means, go ahead and oppose or criticise the immigration policy in Singapore. But please do not go around deliberately demonising the foreigners amongst us or stir up feelings of antipathy against them. Just as how there are "ugly" or inconsiderate foreigners, there are also Singaporeans who are just as "ugly" or inconsiderate; hate the sin, not the sinner (in fact, please do not hate the sinner just because he or she is of a particular nationality).

By all means, go ahead and criticise how some are quick to label those whom oppose the Population White Paper as "xenophobic", that they are misrepresenting the reasons why people oppose the White Paper. But please also recognise there are perhaps indeed those who oppose the White Paper because they are latently anti-immigrants/foreigners, intolerant or pro-hatred. For those of you all who are opposing the White Paper not because of xenophobia, you all need to speak out against these people, especially because they discredit your cause.

And, in the end, although our politics may differ, let this not divide us.


chillycraps said...

What I worry is when people start to get unfriendly towards foreigners, when people should be looking at the policy (and the policy-makers) instead.

A mature society would probably exercise their power using the vote in hand.

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