It was only a matter of time before popular current affairs platform Mothership got hauled in by the Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore. According to Singapore’s The Straits Times, the website was asked to register with the Authority today. While the request might sound innocuous, the implication is that the website, funded by a Project Fisher-Men, will not be able to receive foreign investments once it registers.
In the same report, MDA announced that after assessing Mothership, it had found the website to meet its “registration criteria”, and will require the team of four staffers to register by April 11.
Mothership noted and asked on its Facebook Page, “The Mothership.sg team is mulling our next steps. Which articles on Mothership.sg do you think caught the eye of the regulators?” Meanwhile, this move to regulate the internet, especially when it comes to current affairs websites, has gotten local netizens talking about online freedom.
“MDA’s obsession with seeing foreign funding without proof of its existence is unhealthy, as it automatically casts a suspicious glow on any home-grown website that seeks to find a footing in Singapore. As noted by TISG, in contrast, MDA has no such qualms when it sought to register Yahoo Singapore, which is an American-owned entity. This smacks of double standards, and a lack of clarity in what MDA hopes to achieve by registering websites.”
Visakan Veerasamy, an online blogger, also shared his thoughts with e27:
“I think it’s just silly and unnecessary. I suppose the MDA is concerned about rogue foreign influences or something but they need to realise that it just looks really bad in this day and age when everything is so liquid. Anyway, if you try to stop people from getting foreign funding, there are surely loopholes and way-arounds. I think the MDA needs to come out to the public and explain their concerns and reservations.
I think people are concerned about internet freedom stuff because it almost feels like the MDA is this secret censorship police. If they have good intentions on behalf of the country, it would do them well to have a spokesperson- or better yet, the CEO, etc- come out and talk openly about what they think the media needs, and how to best navigate it.”
More details to follow.
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