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Monday, July 10, 2006

Mr Brown or: The empire strikes back

Is it tough to be an open-minded blogger in Asia, when , what you write, is not always understood across the world or in your own country?

Asians are "used" to get into trouble with the writing in their blogs - and this time, it has hit one of the most popular blogs in Singapore. Astonishingly, not in China, for once.

Mr. Brown, a regular writer in a Singaporean newspaper called TODAY wrote a satire about rising costs of living in Singapore - a piece of work that upset the government and let to a suspension of his column. Those who are interested can read the piece of satire in his blog on July 3: "S'poreans are fed, up with progress".

It clearly is meant as satire: "Things are certainly looking up for Singapore again. Up, up, and away. Household incomes are up, I read. Sure, the bottom third of our country is actually seeing their incomes (or as one newspaper called it, "wages") shrink, but the rest of us purportedly are making more money."

It is a tough stand to take and some supporters take the stand already in favour of Mr. Brown. Overall, it is clear that the Singaporean government is and was always weary of criticism that is coming on too strong. Instead of entering a discussion with Mr. Brown, it is easy to shut down the column.

That is the way it goes in Asia, and it has now happened again, in Singapore. It won't go away that quickly, and might hit all of those who publish material - for whatever reasons. Does this mean bloggers should be quiet? Sure not, because often enough, they revealed the truth that others tried to hid. But clearly, it is a risk that everybody who has a blog needs to assess personally and without influence from others.

(By Asia Business Consulting)