SINGAPORE – Censorship can hide the truth, but cannot make truth disappear.
Does this necessarily have to be a bad thing?
Delegates flooded Lecture Theatre 1 as representatives of different organizations, committees and ministries. They provided insight by sharing their views regarding the issue of censorship in Singapore, a country known for her strict censorship laws. These laws omit from the public eye anything deemed as outside the norm, going against tradition or against core religious values.
Some may argue that censorship is an infringement of human rights as it prevents freedom of speech and places boundaries on the Dos and Don’ts of Singaporean society. They also feel that the Singaporean government focuses too much on punishments instead of actual prevention, and that they wield censorship as a tool for harshly silencing critics.
On the other hand, there are those who instead argue the importance of censorship in protecting human rights. Should censorship be abolished, the ensuing freedom of speech could lead to even greater problems. One example is when a delegate argued that freedom of speech in the US has lead to an increase in racial tensions in the form of violence and hatred. Censorship is a clear defining factor which helps in maintaining racial and religious harmony.
This clearly creates yet another cycle of discussion, an argument that will continuously get caught up in a game of throw and catch.
A delegate highlighted an alternative to censorship – education. This is to allow citizens, especially the newer generations, to understand the difference between right and wrong. This does not shun individuals away from “undesirable” racial and religious content, but rather places a filter between these issues and the citizens that view them, since they would be educated enough to self-regulate.
Censorship is the barrier between freedom and restriction, and there will never be complete satisfaction or safety regardless of whether censorship exists or not.