New Information Minister disappoints

I am disappointed to learn that Acting Minister for Information Lui Tuck Yew has upheld his predecessor’s ban on Martyn See’s film, Zahari’s 17 Years.

Said ZahariWhen RAdm(NS) Lui Tuck Yew was appointed Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts in April this year, News Radio 938 interviewed me to ask for my views on his appointment. I recall telling the journalist that I hoped Mr Lui would have the boldness to do things differently from his predecessor, Dr Lee Boon Yang, particularly in the area of political expression.

I am therefore very disappointed to learn that Mr Lui, who is also an MP for Tanjong Pagar together with MM Lee Kuan Yew, has upheld his uptight predecessor’s ban on Martyn See‘s film, Zahari’s 17 Years. The film is a documentary interview with former journalist Said Zahari, who was accused by the government of then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of being a communist, a violent revolutionary and a foreign agent, and detained without trial under the Internal Security Act for 17 years.

Continue reading “New Information Minister disappoints”

Complaints Choir "firing cheap political shots"?

Straits Times Forum, 8 Feb 2008

‘Uniquely Singapore’ does not mean embracing all things uncritically

I FULLY support the decision of the Media Development Authority (MDA) not to grant a licence to organisers of the Complaints Choir Project.

This, despite the views of certain netizens that MDA should have allowed the public performance of this choir, since a version of this performance could be made available on the Internet.

Not all kinds of ‘arts and entertainment’ have artistic value. While it is true that an excessively heavy-handed approach towards censorship may stifle creativity and artistic expression, this does not mean that there should be no censorship or licensing at all.

Censorship has a legitimate purpose. We live in a community and we should be mindful of what may undermine the common good.

The Complaints Choir Project puts forward a version of common grouses in our society. Foreigners are involved in this project.

Lau Ai Ling and Lee Siew Peng, writers of the ST forum letters ‘Complaints choir penalised undeservedly’ (ST, Feb 1) and ‘Why squash singing bird amid renaissance drive?’ (ST, Feb 2) respectively, asserted that MDA’s decision undermines Singapore’s initiatives to become a ‘global’ and ‘renaissance and graciousness’ nation.

This reference to the term ‘cosmopolitan’ is a frequently misused and misunderstood refrain. Totally free ‘arts and entertainment’ does not necessarily advance our society’s interests, nor does it reflect an arts renaissance. Not all forms of expression are of value in terms of communication of ideas or even of artistic value.

‘Art’ is not defined exclusively through its ‘shock quality’; whether it is edifying is also a relevant consideration. Freedom of expression in all societies has limits and, to ascertain these limits, we need to examine the specific content of each expression and ascertain its artistic and social value. Firing cheap political shots in the name of ‘art’ or providing entertainment that titillates does not automatically qualify as creative and worthy ‘art’.

It is prudent to draw a line against certain initiatives involving foreigners who seek to impose their opinions and their own version of morality on our society. These foreigners leverage a small select group of disgruntled individuals who masquerade their grouses as views of the average Singaporean. Contrary to their misrepresentation, their values and opinions are not widely held and remain controversial even in their respective countries. We welcome foreign talent and perspectives only to the extent that our society’s interests are advanced.

Clearly, being ‘Uniquely Singapore’ does not mean embracing all things in an uncritical and unthinking fashion. One hopes that Singaporeans as a cosmopolitan people exposed to a wide range of ideas will preserve the discernment to consider what best serves the good of our society where we live and build our lives.

Christine Ang Cheng Moy (Ms)

Well written Ms Christine Ang! Get ready for an invitation to tea by the PAP!

Come on! Who is being uncritical and unthinking? Has Ms Ang even seen the lyrics of the Complaints Choir’s jingle? They are so benign it makes the police ban on it seem ludicrous.

“…this does not mean that there should be no censorship or licensing at all.”

I don’t think netizens are asking for no censorship at all. To make that assumption to counter criticism of the govt’s decision on the Complaints Choir is to cast a hyperbole.

“Firing cheap political shots in the name of ‘art’…does not automatically qualify as creative and worthy ‘art’.”

Spoken like a true minister in the making! But wait…that kind of accusation is supposed to be used only against opposition politicians, not a group of amateur singers which includes even civil servants.

“Totally free ‘arts and entertainment’ does not necessarily advance our society’s interests, nor does it reflect an arts renaissance. Not all forms of expression are of value in terms of communication of ideas or even of artistic value. It is prudent to draw a line against certain initiatives involving foreigners who seek to impose their opinions and their own version of morality on our society.”

I agree that free-for-all arts is not necessarily in Singapore’s interests — but where it concerns public morality, not in the context of the Complaints Choir, which is political expression. Ms Ang is conflating immoral expression with political expression — a common and convenient line of argument used by the governing elite to justify the continued restrictions protecting themselves from criticism.

Censorship is supposed to protect the weakest members of society (e.g., children), not the strongest (e.g., the political elite).

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Free Saudi blogger Fouad Al-Farhan!


I just read in the Straits Times today that Saudi Arabia’s most prominent blogger, Fouad Al-Farhan, was arrested on Dec 23 by the Saudi authorities for allegedly violating “non-security laws”. You can read the report in the New York Times.

In a letter sent to his friends just before he was picked up by the authorities, Fouad wrote:

I was told that there is an official order from a high-ranking official in the Ministry of the Interior to investigate me. They will pick me up anytime in the next 2 weeks.

The issue that caused all of this is because I wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia and they think I’m running a online campaign promoting their issue. All what I did is wrote some pieces and put side banners and asked other bloggers to do the same.

He asked me to comply with him and sign an apology. I’m not sure if I’m ready to do that. An apology for what? Apologizing because I said the government is liar when they accused those guys to be supporting terrorism?

To expect the worst which is to be jailed for 3 days till we write good feedback about you and let u go.

There may be no jail and only apologizing letter. But, if it’s more than three days, it should be out. I don’t want to be forgotten in jail.”

I know this is Saudi Arabia, not exactly a bastion of democracy in the Middle East. The Kingdom is an absolute monarchy, and does not allow political parties, civil rights groups or public gatherings. Nevertheless, this news is still upsetting and repulsive to me.

Unlike most other Saudi bloggers, Fouad uses his real name and features his picture on his blog. In a post in December, he listed his 10 least favourite Saudi personalities, including a businessman prince, a prominent cleric, a minister, a mayor and the head of the judiciary.

One of Fouad’s fellow Saudi bloggers, Ahmad al-Omran, was quoted as saying, “It’s really sad that a blogger who is writing about important issues out in the open would get arrested, while there are extremists who call for violence and hate, and the government is not doing much.”

I lend my tiny voice to a global call for the immediate release of Fouad Al-Farhan and urge fellow Singaporean bloggers to do likewise.

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The politics of Singapore’s new media in 2006

This is an article I contributed to The Online Citizen.

The year 2006 was a landmark year for the new media and citizen journalism in Singapore. The government’s “light touch” approach to regulating the Internet was probably one of the factors that emboldened many Singaporeans to step up and push the political boundaries through their blogs, podcasts (online sound clips) and vodcasts (online video clips). There were too many developments in the new media in Singapore in the past year to capture in one article. Nevertheless, this piece will highlight just a few of the more significant happenings in Singapore fuelled by this phenomenon.

Election podcasting and vodcasting

In the weeks leading up to the General Election in May, Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts Balaji Sadasivan announced a ban on “explicitly political” podcasting and vodcasting during the hustings. This move was ostensibly in response to the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)’s plans to circumvent the government-controlled mainstream media by reaching out to the electorate using sound and video clips on its website. After the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) informed political parties of this regulation, the parties had no choice but to comply. The SDP reluctantly removed the podcasts from their website, but not without protest.

However, this did not stop some Netizens from publishing videos of numerous election rallies on their blogs. Almost all of the videos, which people had recorded using their mobile phone camcorders and submitted to the blogs, were of Opposition rallies, notably that of the Workers’ Party (WP). The blog owners did make several attempts to ask for People’s Action Party (PAP) videos but there were few takers.

Some wondered why the government did not crack down on these websites. The likely reason was that the government felt assured that due to the lack of knowledge about these websites among the general populace, they would have been unlikely to swing the votes by much. This assurance was probably strengthened when a post-election survey by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) revealed that only 33 per cent of Singaporeans — mostly young adults — said that the Internet was important to shaping their voting decisions.

The rise of mrbrown

Singapore’s most well-known blogger, mrbrown, shot to fame during the elections with his riotously funny “bak chor mee” podcast. This was part of a series of “persistently non-political” podcasts (a play on the government’s phase “explicitly political”). This podcast recorded an argument between a bak chor mee man (a food vendor) and his customer over a botched order. It implicitly poked fun at the PAP’s demonising of WP candidate James Gomez for his blunder of not submitting his election forms properly and initially blaming it on an Elections Department official.

mrbrown’s next podcast about the impact of grades and exams in Singapore was equally funny. In this clip, two schoolchildren who were comparing exam grades and debating whether one student’s score of 66.6 per cent was “a very good score”, as their teacher had told her. The mainstream media had trumpeted the PAP’s 66.6 per cent win as a resounding mandate. The clip went on to lampoon other politicians both from the PAP and the Opposition.

During his National Day Rally speech, PM Lee misquoted the character in mrbrown’s “bak chor mee” podcast as saying “mee siam mai hum”. Many Singaporeans caught the error immediately, as the popular Malay dish mee siam never contains hum (cockles). PM Lee’s press secretary later clarified that he had meant to say, “laksa mai hum”. This didn’t stop mrbrown from recording another funny podcast titled, “A harmless podcast”, which contained a catchy jingle of PM Lee’s gaffe. The jingle was widely downloaded and circulated, with some people even converting it into a mobile phone ring tone. In keeping with their “light touch” commitment to the new media, there was no response from the government, even though some officials were said to have taken offence at that irreverent mockery.

Unfortunately, despite (or perhaps, because of) mrbrown’s popularity, he found himself targeted for crossing the proverbial “out-of-bounds” (OB) markers. In a column he wrote for TODAY newspaper on 30 June, mrbrown criticised the government, albeit in a light-hearted manner, for its price increases following the Elections. The article, “S’poreans fed up with progress”, drew a scathing response from MICA, which it said “distort(ed) the truth”. To the dismay of many Singaporeans, MICA accused mrbrown of being a “partisan player” in politics and declared that “it is not the role of journalists or newspapers in Singapore to champion issues, or campaign for or against the Government”. The government’s sore point appeared to be that his opinions were circulated in a mainstream newspaper rather than on his blog, which has a much narrower and more limited audience.

TODAY promptly sacked mrbrown, despite howls of protests from Netizens, some of whom turned up at City Hall mrt station wearing brown tee shirts in a show of support for mrbrown and protest at his dismissal from TODAY.”Thankfully, no further action was taken against mrbrown and his podcasts continued to draw more and more listeners every week.

Talking Cock in Parliament

The event Talking Cock in Parliament was publicised almost entirely through “viral marketing” on the Internet. It was a stand-up comedy held at the Old Parliament House on 24 August. Most of the performances were captured and made available on YouTube and other websites. The most memorable performances were probably that of Ruby Pan and Hossan Leong. Ruby Pan had her audience rolling in laughter as she demonstrated the different English accents used in Singapore to illustrate the different strains of Singlish — acrolectal Singlish (i.e., the “high class” Singlish) and basilectal Singlish (the colloquial, ungrammatical type frowned on by the government).

Hossan Leong also had his audience in fits of laughter when he sang his localised version of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. His song, “We live in Singapura”, chronicled the history of Singapore from Sang Nila Utama to the present day.

This refreshing, citizen-driven event not only showcased the amazing artistic talents of Singaporeans, but more importantly demonstrated that Singapore does have a unique and vibrant culture despite our short history. The event succeeded in making Singaporeans laugh at themselves and in the process celebrate their “Singaporean-ness”, regardless of political differences.

The Wee Shu Min affair

Teenager Wee “Elite Face” Shu Min put Singapore on the map in October when her arrogant online rant against what she saw as a “whining” middle-aged Singaporean, and the subsequent vitriol against her resulted in her name topping Technorati’s most popular search words in the world for a few days. T
he storm went mainstream when journalist Ken Kwek reported the online war of words in The Straits Times (ST). The incident was later mentioned numerous times in subsequent newspaper articles and commentaries, and even in Parliament. Member of Parliament Wee Siew Kim, had to apologise twice on behalf of his daughter — the second apology was for his own insensitive remarks in his first “non-apology”.

There is no doubt that the intensity in which Singaporeans reacted to these dismissive comments by an “elite” father and daughter pair served as a warning bell of the fate that awaits any politician who is blind to the growing class divide in Singapore.

Self-regulation by bloggers

A TODAY article in December by blogger Dharmendra Yadav sparked off another debate in Blogosphere about self-regulation by bloggers and developing a bloggers’ code of ethics. Many articles were written in response, arguing both for and against the proposal. It was evident that despite the rationale put forward by its proponents, most Netizens were against the idea of any sort of regulation or code of ethics on a platform which some saw as the “last bastion of truly free expression” in Singapore.

Use of the Internet by political parties

In the past year, Opposition parties in Singapore made tentative steps to use the Internet to propagate their messages. Of the three major Opposition parties in Singapore, the SDP appears to be the most Web savvy. The party regularly publishes articles and press statements on its positions on various issues. On the other hand the WP, while maintaining a respectable Web presence, has yet to use the Web extensively to maximise its reach to the electorate. In fact, two WP central executive committee members resigned following online comments of theirs which did not square with the party leadership’s preferred method of engaging Singaporeans.

Foreign Minister George Yeo was the first Cabinet minister to start blogging regularly, with some surprisingly frank and insightful articles based on his interactions with foreign leaders. P65 MPs (the term coined for new MPs born after Independence) drew some chuckles when they first started blogging about grassroots activities which did not interest the majority of Netizens. However, by immediately posting their maiden speeches in Parliament and the PAP Conference on their blogs, they proved to be a step ahead of the main opposition Workers’ Party, which was markedly slower in using the Net for their party propaganda.

Government awakens to the new media

In his annual National Day Rally speech in August, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong devoted over 25 minutes to expounding on how digital media is changing Singapore. He acknowledged that the new media will “change the texture of society” and that the traditional media was “under siege” to hold its audiences. While highlighting several citizen-driven new media initiatives, he surprised many when he mentioned political satire site TalkingCock, even remarking that “some of the jokes are not bad”. The site, which was founded by cartoonist and filmmaker Colin Goh, responded in feigned horror with a headline, “Seow Leow! TalkingCock Suffers Shrinkage, Street Cred Loss, After Rally Mention”. This was obviously not true, as TalkingCock enjoyed a huge surge in visits after the speech.

PM Lee also revealed the government’s distrust for the free-wheeling world of cyberspace. He told Singaporeans that “if you read something on the Straits Times or CNA (Channel NewsAsia) you know it is real”, unlike what is on TalkingCock. He warned Singaporeans to be “sceptical” and not believe everything they read, as “there will be half truths and untruths which will circulate, and you won’t know which is which”.

Many Netizens would have seen this as an unfair comparison, as they know that TalkingCock is just a humour site which has never claimed to be a source of proper news reports, while the ST and CNA too have their share of biases towards the government line.

PM Lee also made no mention of the many local blogs that debate political issues both objectively and independently. However, he signalled that the government would be prepared to change laws like the ones governing podcasts during elections and political videos to keep pace with developments in this digital age.

In response to these trends, the government set up a new unit in MICA’s public communications division named the New Media Unit, presumably to advise the government on Internet public communications strategies and to monitor Internet chatter. Changes to the Penal Code were also proposed to make explicit mention of electronic media as a platform for potentially defamatory comments.

STOMP and citizen journalism

In June, media giant SPH launched a new web portal, STOMP (Straits Times Online Mobile Print). It was billed by ST editor Han Fook Kwang as a platform “to provide readers with new avenues to express themselves, to enable them to interact with [the newspaper], and among themselves”.

While the paper trumpeted it as “citizen journalism”, academic and former Straits Times journalist Cherian George poured cold water on the idea. He said on his blog, “I don’t consider STOMP to be citizen journalism, because it puts the public on tap, not on top. It merely introduces greater interactivity to traditional journalism. Citizen journalism in the proper sense does its own agenda-setting. Citizen journalists decide what questions need to be asked and what topics to pursue. They don’t just answer questions decided by mainstream editors.”

Expected trends in 2007

Positive developments in the new media are expected to continue in 2007, barring any major government crackdown. As more Singaporeans from all backgrounds take to reading, writing and commenting on blogs, online forums, podcasts and vodcasts, the diversity of views on the Internet will also increase. Although most Internet chatter currently takes on a disproportionately anti-Establishment tone, there might be a slight shift in views to the right (i.e. the conservative) in 2007, as more people linked to the government machinery step in to counter their views.

We can expect more Singaporeans to warm up further to Blogosphere and see it as an increasingly credible alternative to the traditional media.

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Also check out Charissa’s excellent review: Rise of the New Media in Singapore Politics

PAP MP calls for less restrictions on mainstream media

PAP MP Baey Yam Keng, in his first speech in Parliament this week, urged the government to amend Singapore’s media legislation so as to promote greater media freedom in the mainstream media (MSM). (Extracts of his speech are reproduced below.)

In his speech, Baey noted that new media’s impact on the young has been “massive”. He pointed out that the government should not hold itself responsible for what the people see or read, otherwise Singaporeans may lose the ability to think, evaluate and judge for themselves. In observing the vastly different viewpoints put out by the MSM and new media, Baey wondered if they were from two different populations talking about two different countries. He went on to state that he did not think that the reality is “mostly positive” as portrayed in the traditional media nor is it as negative as what the new media describes it.

In contrast to what the Second Minister for Information recently said, he called on the government to relax regulations on traditional media to allow people to vent grouses and frustrations, without always demanding for constructive suggestions. He said this would enable Singaporeans to then engage openly in meaningful, level-headed discussions without fear of prosecution.

This is probably the first time that a ruling party MP has so openly advocated greater media freedom — tight media restrictions are a sacred cow for the PAP. Equally significant is the fact that he was a former director in the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA), the very ministry in charge of regulating – or some say censoring – the media.

It is heartening to note that at least one MP is listening to issues percolating from the ground by reading blogs, rather than just believing everything the Straits Times and Zaobao put out.

Baey gave a good example of Wikipedia’s self-policing mechanisms as the way of the future. Journalist Thomas Friedman had also cited community-driven websites like Wikipedia as one of the “ten forces that flattened the world” in his book, The World Is Flat. He compared how Microsoft Encarta, the world’s “best-selling encyclopedia” had just 36,000 entries, while Wikipedia had almost 900,000 articles by end 2005. The Singapore government cannot afford to be stuck in its traditional mindset of how information is disseminated and digested if they desire to see our country progress and keep pace with this globalised world.

Baey pointed out that unlike the MSM, new media often portrays issues in a negative and critical manner. There are good reasons for this. Bloggers try to find a niches that are not covered by the MSM. Because the MSM in Singapore is so skewed towards the ruling party’s viewpoints, it doesn’t make sense for the bloggers to echo the praises the MSM heaps on the PAP and the government. If the MSM were to be a bit more balanced when reporting on local political issues, perhaps bloggers would start see less of a need to play an adversarial role all the time.

Having said that, it is important to point out that the new media contains very diverse viewpoints – both for and against the government. Many are just independent analyses, which when compared to the Straits Times, naturally appear “anti-government” when they are in fact simply independent. It is unhelpful for political leaders to constantly paint the new media as being full untruths, because this may become a self-fulfilling prophesy. (More comments on this issue in my earlier post, From broadsheets to blogs.)

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Extracts of Parliament speech by MP Baey Yam Keng, 9 Nov 06. Original speech is on the P65 blog:

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Now, I would like to move on to the subject of new media, another means of self and cultural expression. New media’s impact on the young, to say the least, has been massive.

Compared to traditional media, new media is much less structured; it is more informal and also more difficult to control. It is a virtual world with its own parameters, rules and regulations. Its estate or space is both private and public. It has both advantages and disadvantages. It presents new opportunities and solutions as well as new problems. It is a force to be reckoned with and most people in the developed world cannot envision a future without it. We are beginning to see its social, political and economic powers.

It was reported recently that Google UK is poised to overtake UK’s main TV channels in advertising revenue within the year. It is therefore a wise choice that the government has identified interactive & digital media as a new sector to grow. We should harness the power of both new and old media, for instance, in using them for cross communications and marketing to different audiences. The popularity of Singapore Idol and the Idol format around the world was largely due to its ability to leverage on both the traditional TV media and the new mobile media. It manages to engage the audience and turn them into fans who like the power to be able to pick their winner.

The global media scene will continue to evolve. From the ancient days of using smoke signals, pigeons, to print, radio, television, fax, telephony, mobile and now the internet, it does not mean the emergence of one new media will always replace another. The radio continued to survive in the advent of the TV. In fact, it became more accessible with the emergence of the portable radio, then the car radio, followed by the mobile phone radio.

It is a media ecosystem when many can co-exist and will co-evolve. Even The Straits Times has launched STOMP and vodcasts, and Channel News Asia has its BlogTV.sg. One thing is certain, with technology advancement, the speed of evolution will be faster and people’s lifestyles and expectations will also change at a quicker pace.

The convergence of media can pose problems for the conscientious censor. On the other hand, the good citizens of the world can now also play a bigger role in helping to police our virtual space. For example, the Wikipedia is a self-regulating resource. As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education in Oct 2006, Alexander M.C. Halavais, an Assistant Professor with the State University of New York at Buffalo, slipped in 13 errors in Wikipedia. In less than three hours, all of his false facts had been deleted, thanks to the vigilance of Wikipedia editors who regularly check recently updated entries. On Dr Halawi’s “user talk” page, one Wikipedian pleaded with him to “refrain from writing nonsense articles and falsifying information.”

The differences between new media and traditional media call for different treatments from the authorities. We can allow different platforms for responsible and less responsible expression of views, eg 全民乱讲 is for all citizens to talk nonsense, 全民开讲 allows all citizens to speak their minds,and 全民好好讲 calls for all citizens to have a good discussion. I believe people will know which programme is meant to serve what target audience. What the government should ensure is that there is no masquerading.

The government should not and cannot hold itself responsible for what the people see or read. Otherwise, Singaporeans risk losing the ability to think, evaluate and judge for themselves. The Mr Brown incident illustrates too clearly how new and old media could have engaged each other better. Having driven negative comments or untrue information about the government underground, into the labyrinth of virtual space, the government loses an opportunity to engage the propagators and dispel the erroneous statements.

As I read comments in the newspapers and compare them with those in bl
ogs and online forums, I sometimes wonder if they are from two different populations talking about two different countries. I do not think that the reality is mostly positive like in the traditional media or like what the new media is portraying, mostly negative and critical. I believe the real world is somewhere in between.

We have to accept that it will be very difficult, in fact, impossible to monitor and rebut all negative online comments against the government. We should also consider relaxing regulations on traditional media to allow people to vent grouses and frustrations, without always demanding for constructive suggestions. Singaporeans can then engage openly in meaningful, level-headed discussions without fear of prosecution. Erroneous assumptions, wrong ideas, narrow mindsets, prejudices and biases, loyalties, tolerance and wisdom can all be brought to the light of day and seen clearly for what they are. I believe in the Singaporean’s ability to discern wisely. Even if we may not be able to do so accurately, that is our judgment and that judgment should be given the opportunity to be sharpened.

A few months ago, Lianhe Zaobao and My Paper featured articles about the “strawberry generation”, a description of “soft”, young people with little determination, weak wills and dependent mindsets who are unable to take the slightest of hardship. They are adults but they still turn to their parents for pocket money. They have difficulties holding down a job. I wonder if this reflects, on a micro level, a side effect of our government’s parental style towards its citizens. If our government trusts the general public’s ability to refrain from uncontrolled gambling by allowing casinos, she should also trust its ability to tell right from wrong, black from white, or even grey, on other issues. Thus, I urge the government to consider amendments to our media legislation so as to promote greater media freedom.

This, I believe, would encourage greater creativity in this sector, leading to spill-over effect in other sectors and professions in Singapore. Creativity exists in all sectors and industries. As we nurture creativity in every aspect of our lives, it would become part of ourselves, our DNA, our lifestyles, our identity. Creativity is doing things in a different way which adds value and benefits, which no one else has done before. Creativity is working smart. Creativity is the new cutting edge. Creativity is that which will provide us with the lead over our competitors.

I look forward to the day when creativity is synonymous with the Singapore national identity, the Singapore brand. When that day comes, we can be assured that our survival as a nation is secure and the future, ever the brighter.

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