Monday, August 21, 2006


BY ALL means criticise the Government and ministers but be prepared to stand by what you say.

Addressing the issue of how the Government deals with criticisms for the first time since the mr brown episode, the Prime Minister explained last night why it had to respond to the blogger.

He said mrbrown had hit out wildly at the Government and in a very mocking tone.

If the Government failed to respond to such criticisms, untruths would be repeated and eventually treated as facts.

This would result in the Government and political leaders losing the respect of the population and the moral authority to govern, the Prime Minister said.

'So we argue, sometimes we argue fiercely. But we should not take that as a sign that we are not open.

'Openness doesn't mean just lovey-dovey. Openness means being prepared to be candid, to be direct, and to discuss very serious things very seriously,' he said.

The Prime Minister also described the blogger, a 36-year-old full-time writer whose real name is Lee Kin Mun, as a 'very talented man'.

But he added that the Government could not have not replied to the blogger's satirical column on the high cost of living, which was published in the Today newspaper in June.

'It hit out wildly at the Government and in a very mocking and dismissive sort of tone,' PM Lee said.

The Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts subsequently issued a strong response to the column in the form of a letter which was published in the same newspaper.

Four days after the letter was published, Today suspended mrbrown's weekly column.

Last night, PM Lee acknowledged that some Singaporeans felt the Government had been too harsh in its response.

He then gave his opinion on the matter.

'He (mrbrown) is entitled to his views, and entitled to express them but when he takes on the Government and makes serious accusations, as he did in this case because he said the Government suppressed information before the elections, which was awkward, and only let it out afterwards, then the Government has to respond.

'Firstly to set the record straight, and secondly to signal that this is really not the way to carry on a public debate on national issues and especially not in the mainstream media,' he said.

I'm sorry, but were the issues raised by Mr Brown really addressed at all? All I heard was "all bloggers making criticisms about the government or government policy must back up their claims. Did the government really respond to the idea of increased standard of living? Or is our dear PM really throwing up smoke screens to avoid the discussion?

BTW, it doesn't take a column to make the people lose their respect of the government. It takes a government to do that. And the moral authority to govern. *coughcoughcough* Sorry. Had a little trouble swallowing that...


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