Today, when you go to Mainstream Media on Facebook, click on any post and find the number of negative comments on their posts. It is no secret that the opposition has an internet brigade which goes online spreading hate.
At first it was fine when they were not making personal attacks on people who did not agree with them. Freedom of speech right? Everyone is entitled to their opinion on an issue.
But what is NOT okay is when they go around and make personal attacks on well meaning Singaporeans who have voiced constructive comments or speak up in favour of the Government.
Channel News Asia released an article about steering away from negative campaign practices. Unfortunately, this only applies to candidates and agents but not their supporters.
Take a look at some of their comments. They are obviously unfair and are a form of cyber bullying.
Their favorite term for anyone supportive of the government is “dog”. It is derogatory and disrespectful. Just because someone does not agree with you, it does not warrant name calling and mud-slinging.
I think Ms Tin has summed it up nicely.
“As politicians, all of us have encountered our fair share of online vitriol; some perhaps more than a fair share. It is not pleasant to be on the receiving end of such online attacks, but many of us have cultivated a certain equanimity and learnt to focus on the important issues for Singapore. I went through a “baptism of fire” in 2011 and I can fully empathize with how my political colleagues and peers from other political parties feel. But online vitriol does not help our political development. Politics should be a contest of ideas, about how Singapore can tackle its challenges and improve the lives of its citizens. It should also be about who can best run a constituency and come up with the best programmes to serve residents. I may not agree with my political “competitors” on many issues, but I believe in their right to stand in front of voters, and put forth their views and positions too. Online attacks that use lies and innuendos to insinuate that a potential candidate is not fit to serve, or that use vulgar language and threats to push a potential candidate to withdraw, do not serve our democracy. It is important that Singaporeans are able to express their thoughts on issues freely. However, we can do this without personal attacks and harassment, resorting to lies or threats, hiding behind anonymity and false identities. We should be fair to others if we want our views to be heard too. Freedom of expression must be coupled with respect. I hope we can all work towards building a free yet responsible online space where constructive debates can take place.”
We should learn to respect other’s views even online and not resort to childish and rude name calling and personal attacks.