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Official statement from The Online Citizen

The Online Citizen (TOC) has taken down its website at exactly 9.08am. If you are wondering, yes the timing is deliberate.

We have also deactivated our social media platforms, not because we agree that Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s demand is justified but we do not wish to complicate matters at this point in time.

We will be filing a judicial review against IMDA’s order for TOC to suspend its operation of the social media platforms as they are not part of the declaration that it signed with IMDA in 2018, neither has IMDA mentioned anything in regards to this at any point.

Then-MDA publicly stated, “The registration of TOC Ltd is intended to ensure that the company does not receive foreign funding for the provision, management and/or operation of the TOC website, which is engaged in the propagation, promotion or discussion of political issues related to Singapore.”

Nothing of its press release speaks about operation of social media platforms.

Furthermore, there also does not seem to be any justification for IMDA’s order to have TOC cease its operation outside of Singapore as the issued class license is solely for the purpose of broadcasting in Singapore.

As past instances have shown, IMDA can easily have the local internet service providers block websites from being accessed in Singapore so there is no need to compel TOC to shut down its website in the first place.

TOC would like to reiterate that the sole reason why it is not complying with IMDA’s demand for declaration is the insistence to have the existing subscribers be converted to donors even when evidence have been provided of how subscribers are being compensated for their fees.

TOC had offered to prove the full declaration for FY2020 if IMDA does not quibble over the issue of subscription fees anymore. It has rejected the offer.

IMDA is saying that the subscription that allows “subscribers” to get specific articles written, in return for “subscription funding” received, is a cause for concern as it could be an avenue for foreign influence.

It, however, fails to highlight to the general public that after the exchange with TOC in 2019, the offer of this subscription tier has been removed by TOC. It also has issued a stern warning to TOC on its FY2019 declaration. Also to clarify, any suggestion from subscribers will only influence the topic and editorial discretion is still maintained by the website.

For the sake of clarity, TOC has never received foreign funding and will continue this practice in the future to come.

IMDA’s continual action to pester TOC over its subscription model is nothing more than means of harassment and intimidation of the free press in Singapore.

The licensing regime is simply meant to strike fear in the minds of the would-be donors and subscribers to prevent them from supporting independent journalism in Singapore.

Contrary to expectation, there will be no sad statements of how TOC is being forced to close after nearly 15 years of operations as I assure you that this is just a temporary suspension of its operations and a time of reflection for TOC to look at how it can better improve itself in order to serve Singaporeans, its supporters and the greater public.

As TOC is suspending its operations, we have cancelled or suspended all of our current subscriptions with our subscribers. Whether TOC will revisit the subscription model, is something to be decided in the future.

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to all supporters of TOC especially those who have been there for us since the very start, with our founders, Remy Choo Zheng Xi, Andrew Loh, the other former Chief Editors, Ravi Philemon, Joshua Chiang, Kumaran Pillai and the many meritorious contributors of the website such as Howard Lee, Kirsten Han, Lynn Lee, Stephii Chok, Leong Sze Hian, Donaldson Tan, Gangasudhan கங்காசுதன் and many others who have chosen to remain anonymous for the work that they have done out of pure desire for the betterment of Singapore.

TOC couldn’t have lasted so long without all your support over all these years.
 

 
Yours truly,
 

 
Terry Xu
Editor-In-Chief

 

 

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READER COMMENTS BELOW

7 Responses to “Official statement from The Online Citizen”

  • The shutting down of TOC may be a blessing in disguise for Terry. At least for IMDA, Terry need not go to jail or be detained without trial.

    If TOC is not shut now, once the foreign interference bill (FIB) is passed by parliament and it is used against TOC, Terry may kenna more jialut and may have to spend time behind bars.

    I heard that the FIB is more draconian and on par with the ISA used by the ISD. What makes it more terrifying is that just based on the mere suspicion of a minister, a person may be detained without bail and not presented in court, like the ISA.

    If that is indeed the case, then any blogger not in the good books of a minister may find himself/herself being suddenly detained for years at the wimps and fancy of a minister, just for writing the wrong things.

    Once the bill is passed, blogging will literally be a life and death matter for the alternative bloggers.

    Scarry isn’t it? I do hope I heard wrong.

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  • mamamia:

    This is a GREAT news!
    Believe me or not, the more singapore can shutdown such useless website the better.
    Don’t know which generation people here from, still in website like this fighting to stay above water surface.

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  • A voice please:

    Singapore will always need an alternative voice..
    Best is to have a good one in Parliament.
    Debate and Policy making will be better in the long run…

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  • MarBowling:

    Famous QUOTES TO PONDER:

    1. When GOVERNMENTs FEAR the people, there is LIBERTY. When the people FEAR the GOVERNMENT, there is TYRANNY! The strongest REASON for the PEOPLE to RETAIN the RIGHT to KEEP and BEAR Arms is, as a LAST RESORT, to PROTECT THEMSELVES AGAINST TYRANNY IN GOVERNMENT!

    2. Does the Government FEAR US? Or do we FEAR the Government? When the PEOPLE FEAR the Government, TYRANNY HAS FOUND VICTORY. The Federal Government is OUR SERVANT, NOT OUR MASTER!

    3. When the PEOPLE FEAR THE GOVERNMENT, THAT’S TYRANNY ; WHEN THE GOVERNMENT FEARS THE PEOPLE, THAT’S FREEDOM!

    Heaven has eyes. Man proposes GOD disposes !

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  • shit happens:

    The new security law is similar to what is deployed by China in HK, their purpose is to crush activists, dissidents, oppositions and critics.

    The party has 100% to fine and detain anyone who writes rubbish about their party and policies.

    61% happy with such rules.

    Tech: Quite true, they probably learned from China, the wording is vague and its catch-all characteristic is so similar.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    shit happens:
    The new security law is similar to what is deployed by China in HK, their purpose is to crush activists, dissidents, oppositions and critics.

    The party has 100% to fine and detain anyone who writes rubbish about their party and policies.
    Tech: Quite true, they probably learned from China, the wording is vague and its catch-all characteristic is so similar.

    Yes, I agree with you and TRE Techie.
    The new security law is similar to what is deployed by China in HK and by Democratic ROc Taiwan, their purpose is to crush activists, dissidents, oppositions and critics.

    After Opposition Democratic Progressive Party fake degree President Tsai win the election, the democratic move to shut down media who are critical of their government.

    Facts #1 Democratic shut down media critical of Democratic Lying President Tsai.
    關「中天」台灣新聞自由已死! NCC創惡例台灣成「一言堂」
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erDwQ_E7eLc

    Facts #2 Democratic rigged the election. 為什麼民進黨要做票?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMjXB84XSBw

    PAP supporters please print/distribute/share my post.
    In Dollar$ We Tru$t. Prai$e the Dollar$. Glory be with the Dollar$

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.Again
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Singaporeans must be Cheaperer, Betterer, Fasterer

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  • Homeless Cat:

    Then maybe you will support the closing of websites that post state propaganda. Plenty of those around.

    mamamia:
    This is a GREAT news!
    Believe me or not, the more singapore can shutdown such useless website the better.
    Don’t know which generation people here from, still in website like this fighting to stay above water surface.

    GD Star Rating
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