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Passage A

christelle chua wdtes...


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1 The furore over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, published in a Danish
newspaper as a satirical comment, is becoming more widespread- lncidences of
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violence may be isolated, but verbal barltrs have been flying from all sides and in
all directions. Everyone seems to have something lo say about either the
cartoons themselves, or about ihe response to the publication ot lhe cartooos,
and even lhe response to the responses. Some are offended by the ineverence
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of the cartoons. Others are indignant that the ne',rspaper, a bastion of free
speech in Denmark and many othet countries, is being qiticised for simply I
expressing the cartoonists' 'personal opinions'. Sli[ others are disnayed that
supporters of lhe Danish newspaper view ths expression of potentially 10'
inflammatory comments as an entitlement. T
2 Vvhib many would view this issue as another ctash between lslamic radicals and
Western/European societies, there is also a larger issue that is swiding here - T
that of the right to free speech versus the respect for others. Flemming Rose'
culture editor of Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper! said that he decided to
recruit Danish cadoonists with the challenge: "Draw Muhammad as you see him',
because he wanted to make a stand against lvhat he felt was 'self-censoFhip of
the art world out of a fear of retaliation from lslamic radicals'. tle also saki that
?sking me (if I regret publishing the cartoons) is like asking a rape victim if she
regrets- wearing a-short skirt ai the discotheque on Friday nighf in essence 20
implying that it was his right to express himself as he pleasad. q-enmark's Ptime
Mini;tei, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, also said, '-.. the principle df tr€edom of
expression is the most impo.tant principle for us. This is our prioity number one'
' Evidently, many support the noiion that 'Everyone is entitled to expressing their 25
ovrn beliefs".

3 And so it should be ... in a perfect worid. But the wodd we live in now is not
perfect. We are quick to judge, and we form hasty and generalised opinions
6.toru w. can get tttu tac1s. And so, the freedom of the Danish cadoonist to
represent a Mualim ptophet as a tenorist resulted in a transgression on tndh,
because, of course, tenorism is not representative of the religion as a whole. 30
Ukewise, protesters around the world storming the Danish embassies exercise
the freedom to express their view that Danes are pro-Weslem, antFlslamic
enemies, which again is an unfair generalisation. As one Dane rallying outside
the Jyllands-Posten office said, 'l don't want to live in a country that in order to
love iiself must look down on gthers", proving that not all Danes share the oftinion 35
of the cartoonist.

4 Freedom of speech is an individual right, and has its basis io the fact that people
are individuals and hence have an entitlement to individual thoughts and
opinions. Yel often, people use this right to express their opin'lon abod
generalised groups of peoples. lt is ironic that a rjght that is so fundamentally 40
groundea on individuality c3n so often become abused in making general'
;cross{he-board statements about people Freedom of speech is often
damaging when sweeping statements are made, because oftentimes they do not
'3
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apply lo the majority.

I 5 So the first step towardg lsafe spgech', is to acknoMedge that the right to an 45
individual opinion entails the right to be seen as ah individual, which comes hand
in hand w-th the nebd lo see others as individuals as well. of course, one has to
I take one's own advice and acknowledge that the issue o{ free speech is not so
simplified and cannol be distilled into a single overarchi!:rg generalisation- Many
other things must be considered, not least of i,i/hich is the trite but true statement 50
I that one person's freedom is likely to always encroach on anothefs- Free speech
insulting someone, even ifjust an individual, will always recruit retaliation, which
is merely the other person's righl to express himself. Freedom of speech is likely
to be an enigmatic concept for some time yet-

Freedom of Speech - For lndividuals, About lndividuals


Lesser Administrator, 18 Feb 2006

Passage B

SM Goh Chok Tong writes...

1 I regard newspapers as more lhan iust the usual commerciai Froducts. The
media disseminates information, news, anal)lses and commentaries- lt influences
and shapes public opinion. Hence ideally, iti cor['arate interests should converge
with the core interests of its home country. The media also provides an important
I channel fqr the govqr-nment and natiojal-leaders to communicate with the
people. And by reporting key events as they occur, the media serves as an
authoritative record of a nation's significanl moments for fulure generations- The
I media, lherefore, occupies a privibged position in society. Editors and joumalists
shoulder a heavier moral and social responsibility beyond that of CEOS and
executives of other commercial companies- 10
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,2 ln reality, of course, there is no such thing as unfettercd press freedom. Even
the most liberal-rninded person would acknowledge the nec€ssity of some form of
I . regulation.or code,to ensure responsible reporting. Theodore Roosevelt, the 26h
American Prsident, once said, "The power of the journalist is great but he is
entilled neither respect nor admiration because of that power unless it is used 15
I right." Newspaper editors musl always be mindful of the powers wielded by lheir
p€ns or nowadays, keyboards. They have a greater responsibility to society than
merely publishing a sensational story, scoopirE the news or tuming in a bigger
profit for shareholders. There are larger national and societal interests at stake. I
I suppose that is what Roosevelt meant \,vhen he said that the joumalisls should 20
use their power in a right way. Reputable intemational news otganizations also
face this consideration every day. Although their conditions may be different,
I foreign editors have also exercised restraint and censorship '/vhen necessary.

3 You would recall that about a year ago, an Al-Qaeda-linked group in lraq
I kidnapped and beheaded an American conbactor, Nick Berg. The edito.s of
several major US news agencies, including CNN, ABC and CBS, were

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confronted with th; stark dilemma of tlhelher to capture viewership .by

ffi;; ;;'"";iltor- rnemosl vioeo


Bers's b(deat or- ceosor rt and risk being
ffi'd"ca;* il uti"oitJ uio"o ofwas-atready circ'iatiog freely and widely on
.: I
i#-i"i""*t o*",iitu this.
ffiri;'iii;; th;!;;;"vras still
ii.1ra"" tiil.n #rq
net'xorks decided to report lhe n€v'/s without 30
vkleo others simplv showed- the lild -T-"f-.g
alive. Broadc€sting the full video would nave t
."-*.J Uu terrorists' otiedive of sparking Public fear and accenluatmg
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I'uDrc
presence in lraq Contrary to concem mal stlcn sell-
opposition to continued US public' the 35
mictr aiminish the standirE ofa nelwork in the eyes of the
"I;".*tio
;.ffi;<s'"a.#; ;iJ ior ttreir re-sdors'rble adlons' Even A!'Jazeeg degdea
;;iil;;;;;6;as it iett urat to dt'ow 0re aciual beheadins would
'out of the aealm of d€cencY-
have been
l
rb not .ret me wtono. I do not favour a sub6eMent press- lAn unthinking
It,i-"8 ir*""6t
r-
ffig;;"ibiili;'JJ L"
. But press freedom must be pradised trith
tt understand wtrai is in or not
a
in our
press is
larger sense 40
national
I
l i'iti#ti. eiliit-"*o
;;;;;; th..
::ili;rJil
to "ifnv
undrsund wtrat their la'ger responsit'ilities.entail and
of their ioumalists. Edito$ and- ioumalists must-have high
liti """iJi"agt"t't -
't; muri-raciai people rvho understand sinsapore's
t
ffiff$*'J';' ;;;it'
il"ilJilliiil""1-"oi"iJ".i6la".
;;l;-;;;-; ;";en-who
and multi-relisious make-.',p' 4s
Bv this, I mean lhat our editors and ioumalisls
know what wo'ks for sinsapore and hot'v to
t
advance our societ!/s colle€tive interests'

Our editors and joumalisls must work for the


public good.in a $adical
present vievpointsvtith 50
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."ttrer ttr-an iaeirisric wai- They must report the oews
ine i" Jr"a"
Upi];; ;#;d;lt'"n
"ir "na
a, not lhe tiqtd
inromi wiirtout pursuing any

wav.
and
personal
i"p..tt"t soat. drt rL oo so
o' pol ical ageioa'
tlrcush-sensglbnal
Ofinions and analytical Fieces on safent lssues
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-'i.-"J
;;Hil;ti%t-ft per"pectues Hon€ver'. editors- should
iji"' j''oiilt"iJ.a- ashotio ittow ttre commentary and olinion pages 55
"]1'..J!-'*'li"s ;
; #i.;:;;;;''{ ;,; renea orlv blased of parlisan vi9ws" M9q iqecf9nllv'
"iltii*,'so
:il'"J':*;"*J';;iiii
tilLrsi.
:ffi:,tft,5
o"
*t
to s€{ve a hidden agenda- The

ri *'i,JIo
is free to put
""*-"r'*rri'.oi "lanteda,irete,'t ultwp"lnts tJ encourase construclive social
'neda
panot the govemment's position' lt would
I
ffi ffi;$i,il;?'tio- ioL ft"'g*"tmerts propagandist- A discredited 60
me.lia $/ould not serve our natbnal inlerests I
ExcerDt adapted from Horv Free Shoutd A Frce Press Be?
The Straits Trnes, 1 Nov 2005
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