I laughed aloud when Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen used the term “DRUMS” on the news. It was a classic Singaporean moment of acronym-o-philia, and he meant “Distortions, Rumours, Untruths, Misinformation and Smears”, some of which are kind of duplicates, which means that someone really went out of his or her way to make it into a fancy acronym.
I laughed again when I imagined the number of times this word has been spoken with a straight face during internal ministry meetings.
The hilarity of the acronym aside, misinformation is as old as mankind. I’m surprised the Government only just realised that misinformation spreads on the (some reckon) 30-year-old Internet. Has everyone in Government been deliberately ignoring the Internet all this time? Is this news to the G? Or are they really, really trying hard to insult our intelligence?
Rest assured that there is no great new source of damage coming our way from the dark, evil depths of the Internet, just because a minister said so.
Which leads me to wonder why the minister specifically pointed out online sources as the threat. Is misinformation from other sources less damaging? If a preacher makes a claim, should we worry? If misinformation were to be printed in the newspapers, would it be less of an issue? Are books 100 per cent safe?
I can only guess it is part of a calculated campaign of control. If the G cannot silence the Internet, then it may be easier to switch off some Singaporeans’ brains.
So, lest we be caught unawares and Singapore’s Total Defence be undone by a coffeeshop rumour, or by some newspaper printing gutter news about an ex-football star and a prominent opposition politician, let me tell all my fellow citizens that deception comes from everywhere.
You parents probably have lied to you before. Your teachers have not told you everything. Newspapers conduct misleading, shabby polls and print biased news. Life isn’t like they show on TV. Magazines publish more articles about brands that pay more ad dollars. And yes, governments – they withhold information too, manipulate statistics, spin the news, censor, mislead, distract, fight dirty, dirty wars online. They tell people to beware of the Internet.
Hey, yeah, thanks for the tip. I don’t think we Singaporeans are as dumb as you worry we are.