What does The Real Singapore say about the real Singapore

The case of the former editors of the now defunct socio-political website “The Real Singapore”(TRS) is now finally before the courts. And we finally know who Farhan is. Turns out, Farhan isn’t a “he”. Farhan is actually Ai Takagi, one of the two who have been charged for sedition.

It was revealed in court that TRS had a massive following. It earned about $500k in 17 months. I wonder whether the couple had to hire anyone then to generate the drivel and trash that they were publishing. If not, then they would have had very little overheads and their revenue would have almost entirely translated into profits.

Not bad! Close to half a million to spew hate-inciting rubbish! It’s tempting me to do that for my blog too! I’m sure I can spin out some random rubbish that would get Singaporeans up in arms and whip us all into a hateful frenzy!

Actually, no. I can’t. I’m intellectually allergic to crap like those. So I think if I tried to write the crap that littered the pages of TRS, it would be tantamount to committing suicide. My brain would just shut down and refuse to start.

Why is it that TRS was able to get such a huge following? How did it get more popular than even the mainstream news media? Does that mean that more Singaporeans rather get their daily dose of news from TRS than from the mainstream news media? That would be highly worrying.

Does the popularity of TRS reflect a nascent xenophobia in Singaporeans, waiting to be stoked and fanned by Ai Takagi, Yang Kaiheng and their ilk? Are we a people who just can’t wait to have another opportunity to bash those who are not like us? What happened to us? How did we become like that?

Is the government to blame for opening the floodgates too much too fast? Yes, the discomfort of having so many foreigners in Singapore is very real. The resulting negative impact on jobs and wages posed a great problem for many Singaporeans. Could that be why we needed to read the trash that was on TRS as a way to vent our frustrations? But would reading the exaggerated fiction posted on TRS end up inciting people into greater mistrust, negativity and even violence against foreigners?

Thankfully that didn’t happen. But that could have been because the authorities pulled the plug on the website before it could do any irreparable damage to Singapore’s social fabric. If the authorities hadn’t done so, would there be some segments of Singaporeans who would have been incited into violent hate?

One thing is for sure. A good number of Singaporeans do like reading articles which bash foreigners and the government. Those are far more likely to be shared and go viral. Those tend to have a greater audience. I hope that doesn’t mean that most Singaporeans’ thoughts and opinions are shaped by only those articles. Otherwise, it would really be quite sad and unfortunate for Singapore.

[Featured image: from The New Paper]

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