Asia Desk: Web Site Stirs Change

Posted by Michael Day under Breaking News on 18 March 2000

Expect a political party to spring up in Singapore, says a live wire political scientist who is using the Internet and a sense of fun to change his homeland.

James Gomez says the party will emerge as young Singaporeans rid themselves of the self-censorship that stops them saying what they want.

He has set up a Web site that explains his ideas. He has also written a book, Self Censorship: Singapore's Shame, to aid discussion groups which have sprung up because of the site.

In response to the Singaporean Government's S21 discussions on the impact of globalisation and IT, Mr. Gomez has extended the topics covered to politics-but not of the traditional sort.

"It's about lifestyle, pop culture, a humorous approach to politics, fun, young and not boring," he said in Perth. " In Singapore where surveillance is the name of the game, we will turn the surveillance guys out of a job."

Critics of the authoritarian government say that formal and informal methods have been used to suppress dissenting opinions.

Opposition political figures have suffered crippling law suits, gerrymandering is a feature of the electoral system and a network of informers combines with unofficial tale-telling to keep people in line.

"I don't have problems with the state but I do have problems with self censorship, so that is why I wrote this book," he said.

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