Do you hear a sound in the distance?

It may be, as one blogger puts it, the Singapore blogosphere exploding. It all started when a popular local blogger, mr brown, was a bit more than frustrated at this headline in the local English broadsheet:

(Photo from mr brown’s flickr)

Apparently his frustration boiled over into a weekly column he writes for another local paper, TODAY. Writing in his usual humorous style, he pours on a little more sarcasm than usual.

THINGS are certainly looking up for Singapore again. Up, up, and away.

Household incomes are up, I read. Sure, the bottom third of our country is actually seeing their incomes (or as one newspaper called it, “wages”) shrink, but the rest of us purportedly are making more money.

The government’s response (“Distorting the truth, mr brown?”) had the distinction of pushing every button there was to be pushed for bloggers here – again going back on its stated intention of wanting to have “an open, consultative society.” Much was made of the explicit proscription for the role of the press in Singapore:

It is not the role of journalists or newspapers in Singapore to champion issues, or campaign for or against the Government. If a columnist presents himself as a non-political observer, while exploiting his access to the mass media to undermine the Government’s standing with the electorate, then he is no longer a constructive critic, but a partisan player in politics.

Perhaps mr brown hit the government where it hurt. During the election earlier this year, the newly rejuvenated opposition made the rising cost of living and growing gap between rich and poor their main campaign issue. Right on queue, a few months after securing its mandate, the ruling PAP has start to raise prices for public transport and probably will do so soon for utilities. (See Xenoboy here)

Response so far has been overwhelming and uniformly supportive of mr brown (see Mr Wang, Xenoboy and Mollymeek for some choice comments). There’s even a tribute video.

mr brown himself? He response was to start a podcast meme in honor of Singapore’s National Day – “I am Singaporean”. The story’s not over yet it seems – the government has curiously been quiet on this and TODAY’s letter forum has not printed any letter on the incident despite the number of emails they must be getting. To be continued…


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