Recently in Singapore, two teenagers were caught allegedly plotting to assist ISIS. Since racial and religious disharmony is what terrifies our politicians most, and they have generally done a very efficient job of stamping down upon it in the past, this was a big deal.
Calvin Cheng, a former NMP (‘nominated MP’, under Singapore’s insanely complicated electoral system), took to Facebook with the above post, suggesting that pretty much anyone who says anything he disapproves of should be detained under the Internal Security Act (which allows for detention without trial when national security is at stake).
Alfian Sa’at writes controversial plays about what it is like to be Malay in Singapore, often highlighting discrimination. In fact, far from being a religious conservative, he is way out on the liberal end of the spectrum, and threatened to sue Cheng if he did not take down his post:
And then he ran into a problem. As we’ve mentioned before, Singapore’s laws against racism and discrimination also have the effect of making complaining about racism and discrimination extremely difficult indeed. Something that Cheng is well aware of:
And at this point, Cats of Singapore joined in. This page has been covered here before, for the interesting way in which they manage to get around censorship laws. A Malay complaining about anti-Malay discrimination is, as we have seen, on very shaky ground. A cat complaining about anti-cat discrimination, however, is impossible to object to:
Statments that would be likely to suffer the wrath of the Sedition Act enforcers if coming from a human, are effectively legalised when put in the mouth of a cat. Any attempt to shut down Cats of Singapore would be laughed out of court.
Equally, while it is extremely difficult for Alfian Sa’at to argue back against Calvin Cheng wihtout risking legal troubles, a cat can do it with impunity:
In fact, one commentor on the page objected to the political statements, and the owners pointed this out, while having some fun at his expense:
From this point, the story was picked up by one of the many ‘new media’ news sites (blogs that walk a fine line between being popular and organised enough to attract readers, and becoming so big that they attract government attention and are obliged to abide by Singapore’s famously restrictive press laws), which summed it up thusly:
P.S. The internet has also found a way to wiki-troll Cheng without having to worry about possible libel suits: