The Digital Divide
Posted by inspir3d on July 14, 2006
Cobalt Paladin has graciously agreed to allow the article below to be reproduced in full on the IS. IS requested that this article be reproduced in full because it really encapsulates the spirit of what IS is all about.
This is the original source
What is a politician? In my own understanding, a politician is one who is well-versed in the art and science of getting votes. That is a skill, some even say a gift. A politician needs to “guess” and “feel” the sentiments and psyche of the voters. This is not the definitive dictionary meaning but my own interpretation by looking at the world events.
There were about 2 million voters in the last General Election (GE) and 66.6% voted for PAP which means about 1.3 million voters of Singapore voted for them and likely these people’s main source of information still comes from mainstream media. As surprising to you as it may sound, there is still a huge class of the population who don’t surf the web, let alone read blogs, and that is a fact.
With that in mind, we can relook at the recent press releases and statements by K. Bhavani, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan and Dr. Lee Boon Yang and you can now “read” between the lines. The statements were all geared towards the voters who are offline. You can now understand why Bhavani claims that Mr. Brown is “hiding” behind a pseudonym – the offline people really don’t know who he is; Dr. Balakrishnan made references that mainstream media is not Internet chatroom and Dr. Lee also made references that if Mr. Brown had limited his article to his blog, it would have been dismissed as Internet chatter.
These statements clearly indicated their stand and view about the netizens.
Did anyone expect Dr. Lee to say something different in tone and views? I didn’t. Dr. Lee being a member of the same party and government, all members would have to project a concerted front in dismissing the online fringe population.
If you look at the stats of well-known bloggers, they get about daily visitors numbering in the thousands, if not less. Even our princess of bloggers, who is ranked 99 (at this moment) in Technorati, received 16,486 visitors per day at her peak (that’s assuming all her visitors are Singaporeans), which forms only a small percentage of the 2 million voters. I CAN imagine the number of visitors of popular blogs that comment on politics are getting. So all along, the online “chatter” has been the voice of the vocal online minority as compared to the silent offline majority.
Let’s not forget that the voting population is made up of people of different generations. In the last GE, Singapore has voted and the results is the “will of the people”. Surprising to us, there are people who agrees that opposition wards should not get the upgrading. We may not agree with their views but we have to respect the results.
If you are a clever politician, would you spend your time to engage the online views? So can you understand the “responses” now? So what do we do? Stop blogging since it seems futile?
No. We continue.
We need to continue to engage the growing population who are going online. We need to encourage them to have independent thinking. Let the people think for themselves. Let the Internet present an alternative source of information to the mainstream media. The people has become more sophisticated. We want to be engaged. Nobody wants to be opinion leaders. We just want our views to be heard, argued, debated etc. We want to be part of a REAL inclusive society, not in theory but in REALITY. Yes, it may take a lot of effort for the government to engage the citizens but that is the changing face brought by globalisation, ignore that, the world will pass you by. New political parties successfully grasping the changing faces and trends, will gain entry to the parliament. The world is already changing so much that we’ve Web 2.0 at our doorsteps. In time to come, I believe, Singapore is also ready for both Parliament 2.0 and Government 2.0.
If the current government chooses not to engage, people who are able, capable and mobile, the future pillars and driving force of Singapore (the country, not the government) will move and plant their roots in other countries. Never forget that we are formed by a migrant society. The migrant blood is still within us. It has been made easier by globalisation and the flattening of the world. Before long, too many may have left and it wouldn’t matter any more.
Forget about “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”. Nobody should be afriad of anyone. We want a genuine inclusive and consultative society, so no one should be afraid of anyone.
If we force our views and opinions onto anyone, we are no different and we become them. So we should just present our views in a peaceful manner, engage the people to think for themselves. We are not looking for revolt; we are not looking for matyrs. We are looking for the betterment of our country and society.
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