A thumbs down to NTU: university's written approval is also needed for blogs contain politics and religion

I fully agree with the Broadcasting Act which requires a registration for websites deemed by the authorities to be propagating political or religious issues relating to Singapore. This is Law, afterall, and one needs to respect it.

But to expect a written approval from a university (point a thumbs down in dismay to NTU) is extremely ridiculous!!

Firstly NTU is not a government! Their 'guidelines' are not Law. They should be just seen as guidelines. And nothing more.

Secondly I can imagine those naive bloggers (who sadly are also NTU students) trying to seek for university's written approval. Want to bet the process will take 'some time'? It's going to be troublesome & in the end, many will just end up giving up their idea of blogging.

In any case, kudos for NUS & SMU for not following the shameful step of NTU.

It is an annual reminder, according to Nanyang Technological University but its recent circular on blogging has raised eyebrows on campus.

Among its several do's and don'ts for Internet postings, the Nanyang Technological University Students' Affairs Office has set out this rule: Those who create webpages or blogs containing information regarding politics and religion must acquire proper licences from the Media Development Authority and the university's written approval.

The email was sent on Tuesday to all students with the subject title, Message on Exercising Freedom of Expression Responsibly, in block letters.

When asked what prompted the email and when the circular was first published, NTU Dean of Students Lok Tat Seng said, "Every year, we disseminate information on the do's and don'ts of Internet usage as a regular reminder to our students. The new academic year has just started, hence it's an appropriate time to disseminate the guidelines. These guidelines are posted on NTU's website for their reference, too."

NTU did not respond, however, to MediaCorp's queries on why students needed the university's written approval to create webpages or blogs touching on politics and religion.

Nor did it reply to the question on how many students have obtained written approval thus far.

Under the Broadcasting Act, registration is required for websites deemed by the authorities to be propagating political or religious issues relating to Singapore.

The last time any website was required to register as a political site, though, was in 2001.

The owner of the site, Sintercom, shut it down in protest.

Some NTU students are now questioning the university's approach.

Final-year student Terence Lee, 24, who has been blogging about religion for the past two years, said it was the first time he had seen its rules.

"Requiring students to register with the university is ridiculous," he said. "I'm taking a module which requires students to blog about international affairs. Does this mean all of us have to register?"

On the other hand, third-year student Gillian Goh, who also said it was the first time she had seen the circular, felt the reminder was necessary even though some of her friends were "unhappy" about it.

"No matter what you post online, and no matter how you defend it or even retract it later, students have to take responsibility for what they say," she said.

Last week, a blogger posted about foreign students he accused of not contributing to group projects and, in some cases, copying the work of other students.

The anonymous author, who identified the students and posted their photos, has since removed the blog.

Two other universities here approach social media with a light touch.

"It, however, crosses the line when comments and remarks are untrue or inflammatory," a Singapore Management University spokesperson said.

The National University of Singapore "does not monitor students' postings in blogs and other online media", but a spokesperson said students are expected to abide by the university's Honour Code, "which includes not acting in a manner which is or may be detrimental to the reputation, dignity, interest, or welfare of the University".

SMU students, too, are bound by the university's Code of Conduct, whereby students are expected to refrain from hate speech or epithets - be it racial, ethnic, religious, sexual or political in nature - in any media or communication.

"In situations like these, we believe in education and dialogue, instead of authoritarian and punitive measures," its spokesperson said.

From Channel NewsAsia, "NTU's blogging rule raises eyebrows".


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