A lesson on airing views online, say students, Singapore

Students who attended the pre-university seminar said the Reuben Wang incident was a lesson to be more careful when airing one’s views online.

All of the 20 student participants interviewed on Thursday said it had been inappropriate for Reuben to swear at Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, no matter how frustrated he felt.

One of the 500 teens who attended the seminar, Reuben had directed a profanity three times at DPM Teo on his blog last week, as he was unhappy with the way the minister answered the students’ queries.

Temasek Junior College student Tan Wei Ming, 17, said the fact that anyone can access a blog on the Internet meant that users should be more careful.

He noted: Once things are online, it is out there, you cannot take it back.

School of the Arts student Valerie Koon, 17, said Internet users should take some time to think through their views before posting.

She said: ‘At that point in time, I was angry with DPM’s answers, but when I thought about it and put myself in his shoes, I better understood where he was coming from.’

Temasek Junior College student Tay Zi Hang, 16, said that although the use of profanities gained Reuben more readers, it turned the online debate from one about Mr Teo’s responses to that of the blogger’s own character.

He added that he refrains from using profanities on social media: ‘It just shows that I’m hot-headed, and undermines my reliability. I don’t achieve what I want, which is to put my point across.’

On Thursday, Reuben met Mr Teo and apologised for his comments. He said he was ‘rash’ in swearing at Mr Teo.

Darren Choy, 16, gave Mr Teo the thumbs up for wanting to meet Reuben.

‘It shows that DPM wants to understand. It’s not often that ministers sit down with their critics to hear their grievances,’ said the Temasek Junior College student.

Millenia Institute student A. Bahvaani, 19, said the incident will not deter her from expressing her views, but she will do so in a civil fashion.

‘We disagree with the Government, but I learnt that if we want to be the voice of change, we should do it the right way, and be responsible for our actions,’ she said.

MATTHIAS CHEW and STACEY CHIA
Published on Jun 8, 2012, Straits Times

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