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News Reports

An unlicensed conversation Part 2

Supreme bureaucrats Chin Oo Eng and Nina Kan are back in their bunker, ego bruised and noses bloodied.

Mr Chin (all het up under the collar) : I told you we should just block the sites like China right! These online fellows, we go easy with just a licensing scheme and they whack us. They’re making a monkey of our boss…with bananas. And our boss’ boss now made to look like that short North Korean guy!

Ms Kan (cool as usual): Never mind. Good challenge for us. But you know, it might just go away. Like boss said, over time, “fears will prove unfounded’’. Heh. They will lose steam lah. Plus we have MSM on our side – no editorial, no columnist saying anything. Also, they only report something when we have something to say.

Mr Chin: But we already look weak! Now we have to come out and say that bloggers and individuals don’t come under the licensing scheme, even if they meet content criteria and that 50,000 visitor reach. Very soon, they will force us to say something about sites that are non-profit and small media start-ups which can’t afford the $50,000 bond. We keep talking about bankers’ guarantee of $50,000 – not cash upfront but they are not listening. Very cham!

Ms Kan (just slightly ruffled): Hm. Maybe we got to think about making our arguments more water-tight. A bit tough because we want the scheme to be as broad as possible so that we can use it as and when we want on whoever we want…I am still trying to figure out how to argue that the current classification scheme on objectionable content is not enough, that’s why we need licensing. Also, we only have one example of an order to “take down’’, the Innocence video. Actually, we only asked Google to block it, and they were nice enough to say okay. Can we come up with more examples of objectionable content?

Mr Chin (irritated as hell): Aiyah! We have plenty! But we use Sedition Act, Penal Code and the laws leh to deal with them!

Ms Kan (a bit more ruffled): Maybe we should change tack and say the objective is to ensure civilised discussion on local news developments and raise standards of reporting in online media…That sounds better. I don’t think that argument about parity between MSM and online media rules is getting anywhere. Or maybe we should pressure the MSM to speak in support? You think the boss should make a phone call to them?

Mr Chin: Can try..What about getting boss’ boss to say something? Or boss’ boss daddy? Televised debate between us and those online fellows who think they are so important? We will crush them like cockroaches! (He thumps table!)

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Ms Kan (eyebrows furrowed): Shouldn’t dignify them that way. Anyway, opposition has already tabled adjournment motion in Parliament to discuss this – unless we can block? Or maybe we can depend on the PAP MPs to say nothing or just nice things? All those opposition fellows already weighing in.

Mr Chin (now shouting): Damn leeches! Can even get their town council to clean hawker centres properly and want to talk about “light touch’’! By the way, we should burn all copies of that silly report by the Advisory Council on Impact of New Media on Society… know the one released in 2008 which said Government regulation should be a last resort? Headed by a former MSM head honcho somemore!

Ms Kan (now breaking out in sweat): Oo Eng ah…you are showing your age…don’t forget…It’s the Internet age now, cannot remove the report entirely! But I also remember we didn’t accept many recommendations…So we can argue we are not bound by it…

Mr Chin: So what do we do now? Stay low? Don’t say anything? Have you seen all those comments on MDA Facebook page or not? Online fellows are resorting to fear-mongering…and they accuse us of adding to climate of fear. They scaring themselves and others silly! I am sure they are up to something more. Why can’t they see what we are up to?

Ms Kan (pulling out hair) : Actually, what are we up to ah? I think we’d better get back to basics. Everything’s getting more complicated and confused than we thought. I think we should pass buck back to the boss and get new directions from him.

Mr Chin: Ya, before he blames us …and moves us to some other department to do archiving…

A panic-stricken Chin Oo Eng and a thoroughly dishevelled Nina Kan get up and dutifully make for the boss’ office, forgetting that it’s a Saturday and he’s at a block party.

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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