29 February 2012

Dear Sir / Madam


The Centre for Research on Islamic and Malay Affairs (RIMA), in collaboration with its parent
organisation, the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP), holds its Community in Review seminar annually to discuss contemporary issues affecting the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore.

This year’s seminar hopes to examine the role of social media vis-à-vis the state of multiculturalism in Singapore. Among others, it aims to bright to light recent developments in the social media sphere and its impact on the Malay/Muslim community, as well as inter-ethnic relations as whole. The state of multiculturalism in Singapore cannot afford to be shaken by thoughtless Internet postings, often under the flag of “freedom of speech”. Ethnic relations in a nation can be a thorny and contentious topic. From time to time, disruptions may occur that affect the peaceful relations between the various groups. This seminar will also draw reference from recent postings that have attracted much discussion on social media and the establishment’s efforts at curtailing it.

Details of the seminar are as follows:
Theme: “To Post or Not To Post?”: Multiculturalism in the Social Media”
Date: Saturday 10 March 2012
Time: 8.30 am to 1.00 pm
Venue: Ballroom 2, Orchard Hotel

Speakers: Prof. Eugene K B Tan
Assistant Professor of Law, Singapore Management University

Dr. Cherian George
Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies;
Associate Professor, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and
Information, Nanyang Technological University

Dr. Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir
Assistant Professor, Division of Sociology, School of Humanities and
Social Sciences Nanyang Technological University

Mr. Zaqy Mohamad
Member of Parliament, Chua Chu Kang GRC

The diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise of each speaker at this seminar will ensure that the topic
is dissected from various perspectives. Each speaker brings to the table invaluable experience and
knowledge, which will foster greater understanding of the impact of social media. Also, openly discussing
the issue will help encourage and preserve peaceful inter-ethnic relations in Singapore while at the same
time explore opportunities for the betterment of the Malay Muslim community and society at large.

We would like to invite you to attend this seminar. As the theme is proposing, “To Post or Not To Post?”:
Multiculturalism in the Social Media”, to what trajectory is our society transforming towards? This is
where the audience – community leaders, policy-makers, social workers and young minds – should come
together to engage in a dialogue and lay out their views.

We sincerely hope you will accept our invitation to attend this seminar. It will be much appreciated if you
could RSVP to Norashikin at 6517 4974 or by 3rd March 2012.

We look forward to hearing from you.

IMG_2456Asst. Prof. Eugene Tan is an Assistant Professor of Law at Singapore Management University (SMU). His previous distinguished appointments include Lecturer-in-Law at SMU; Senior Tutor with the Department of Political Science, at National University of Singapore (NUS); Research Associate at Institute of Southeast Asian Studies; and Foreign Service Officer at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore.

Professor Tan is recently a Nominated Member of Parliament. Some of his other current appointments include Associate with the Centre for International Law at NUS; Member of the Advisory Panel of National Youth Council Academy; and Board Member of the Centre for Non-Profit Leadership.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Cherian George is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, as well as an Associate Professor with the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), where he heads the Journalism Division. He is also a Research Associate at the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University, Australia.

Before moving to academia, he had spent 10 years of his career with the Straits Times, where he wrote mainly on domestic politics and media issues. Professor George remains active in professional journalism, as the editor and publisher of “What’s Up,” an independent monthly current affairs newspaper for schools. He is also the Director of Asia Journalism Fellowship.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir is an Assistant Professor with the Sociology Division, School of Humanities and Social Sciences at NTU. His recent books and articles include “Muslims as Minorities: History and Social Realities of Muslims in SingaporeMuslims in Singapore: Piety, Politics and PoliciesRethinking the ‘Malay Problem:’ Image, Rhetoric and Social Realities of Muslim Minorities in Singapore; andDefensive Dining: Notes on the Public Dining Experiences in Singapore.

Mr. Zaqy Mohamad joined the local politics as a member of Parliament (MP) in 2006, currently serving for Chua Chu Kang GRC. Mr. Zaqy is presently the Chairman of the Chua Chu Kang Town Council and Vice-Chairman of the South-West CDC Council. He presently serves in the Public Accounts Committee and Government Parliamentary Committees for the Ministry of Trade & Industry, Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. He is also the Vice Chairman of Young PAP. Outside of politics, Mr. Zaqy is the Sales Head for Dimension Data Singapore, a global technology company of the NTT Group.

Mr. Mohd Nizam Ismail is Chairman of Centre for Research on Islamic and Malay Affairs (RIMA). He was the founding President of Young AMP (the youth wing of AMP) from 2004-2009; Chairman of the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) from 2006-2011, and has been an activist at this community self-help group since 1997. An advocate and solicitor by profession, Mr. Nizam is currently an Executive Director and Head of Compliance for Southeast Asia at Morgan Stanley.

RIMA (March 12, 2012) – As the topic on multiculturalism in the social media continue to prosper, RIMA conducted an online poll from February 20 to March 10, in time for the 2012 Community in Review (CIR) Seminar focusing on multiculturalism in the social media in Singapore.

The question, “Should Singapore allow Freedom of Speech?” touches the critical thoughts of the Malay/Muslim and the Singapore community at large to have a glimpse of the role of social media in Singapore as alternative form of expression towards socio-political and ethnic/religious controversies that usually not being talked in public.

Here is the poll results:



From the results, 48.11% of respondents favored that freedom of speech in Singapore, but it should only be allowed not until netizens shall exercise the freedom with responsibility. The 43.40% responded yes, there should be a freedom of speech, without any provisions; while the 0.94% responded no, there shouldn’t be a freedom of speech; and interestingly 7.55% of the respondents don’t seem to care whether the freedom of speech in social media is practice or not in Singapore.

A total of 106 respondents via online poll posted at the RIMA website.

‘Internet community should self-regulate’

by Tan Weizhen

Today Online

04:45 AM Mar 11, 2012

SINGAPORE – Instead of relying on the authorities, members of the Internet community should take it upon themselves to regulate discourse in cyberspace.

This call was made by panellists at a forum yesterday, which included Nominated Member of Parliament and Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan, Institute of Policy Studies adjunct senior research fellow Cherian George, and Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad.

The forum, “To Post or Not To Post?: Multiculturalism in the Social Media”, was organised by the Association of Muslim Professionals, and comes as concerns grow over racism online, such as the case involving a Facebook comment by a former Young People’s Action Party member last year about Malay children on a school bus.

For an online code of conduct to be recognised, it needs to be a “bottoms-up approach”, said Dr George.

“It should not involve any sort of regulatory agency, any sort of government … because ultimately these codes only have moral power if they are seen as something that is purely voluntary. It needs to be practised out of a sense of social responsibility,” he said.

He said that prominent websites such as The Online Citizen, Temasek Review Emeritus and Yawning Bread could come together to form a code of ethics.

Last week, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim had called on the online community to develop an Internet code of conduct during the Committee of Supply debate.

At the forum yesterday, Assistant Professor Tan agreed that self-regulation is the way to go for the Internet community, as the law cannot evolve quickly enough to keep pace with social media.

However, there will be challenges: “The online community is huge, it’s somewhat dispersed and there are no leaders, and there are people who would use social media for their own agenda. But we must not give up on the possibility of self regulation, where the more reasonable online users will step in.”

Mr Zaqy pointed that the Malay community today is more vocal, calling for clarifications when it came to online racism.

He added that the Malay community has become more active online, with the growth of online interest groups and Malay entrepreneurs tapping on the Internet.

Pakar: Pengguna harus kawal selia sendiri Internet (Panelis seminar anjuran Rima berasa peraturan penguatkuasaan bukan cara terbaik)

15 Mac 2012

Cyberita  Asia

Shamsul Jangarodin

TANGGUNGJAWAB semasa menggunakan ruang siber terletak pada bahu penggunanya.

Demikian pandangan para panelis seminar tahunan anjuran sayap penyelidikan Angkatan Karyawan Islam (AMP), Pusat Penyelidikan Hal Ehwal Islam dan Melayu (Rima), Community In Review (CIR) 2012, Sabtu lalu.

Mereka sependapat bahawa langkah mengadakan peraturan penguatkuasaan di Internet mungkin bukan cara terbaik mengawal pengguna di alam siber.

CIR kali ini membincangkan tentang cabaran terhadap fabrik berbilang kaum Singapura ekoran kesan komen berbaur perkauman dan negatif terhadap sesebuah agama di media sosial.

‘Huraiannya bukan menggunakan undang-undang, tetapi menjunjung kebebasan beragama dan bercakap di negara ini,’ kata seorang panelis, Profesor Madya Cherian George, seorang pakar komunikasi.

Semasa menjawab soalan seorang peserta Melayu berfahaman Syiah yang mengatakan setiap pandangan agamanya dianggap sebagai kata-kata kufur oleh masyarakat majoriti Melayu/Islam yang berfahaman Sunni, Profesor George berkata ‘undang-undang hanya digunakan apabila kata-kata itu menyebabkan timbul sebarang tindakan ganas’.

Tiga lagi ahli panel ialah pakar perundangan, Penolong Profesor Eugene Tan; pakar sosiologi, Penolong Profesor Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir; dan Anggota Parlimen (AP) GRC Chua Chua Kang, Encik Zaqy Mohamad.

Dalam ucapan pembukaan seminar itu, pengerusi AMP, Encik Azmoon Ahmad, menggesa badan-badan Melayu/Islam menjalinkan hubungan kerjasama lebih erat agar dapat memberi respons kepada cabaran media sosial serta menangani kesannya dengan lebih baik.

Ini kerana media sosial semakin dijadikan sebagai alat oleh sesetengah pihak bagi melontarkan kekata yang boleh menggugat keharmonian budaya, bangsa dan agama di Singapura.

‘Kita telah melihat sejak beberapa tahun kebelakangan ini hubungan harmoni antara kaum di Singapura diuji menerusi tulisan di media sosial,’ kata Encik Azmoon.

Sementara itu, semasa ditemui selepas seminar itu, Encik Zaqy berkata beberapa episod AP dikritik hebat kerana menulis pos yang kurang disenangi sebilangan orang tidak akan membuat mereka menjauhkan diri daripada media sosial.

‘Kita harus beri lebih kelonggaran kepada AP. Kalau setiap ayat mereka diteliti terlalu mendalam, ia tidak memberi peluang kepada AP itu menjelaskan mengapa sesuatu dasar itu dibuat,’ kata beliau.


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Please click the link below for more photos

To Post or Not To Post? Multiculturalism in the Social Media

opsrimaOccasional Paper Series No. 1-2012

Authors: Assistant Professor Eugene KB Tan, Associate Professor Cherian George, Assistant Professor Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir and Mr Zaqy Mohamad, MP

Published by the Centre for Research on Islamic and Malay Affairs (RIMA), May 2012

Book Size: 16x24cm; 50pages

ISBN 978-981-07-2023-0 (print); ISBN 978-981-07-2025-4 (digitised)

This OPS examines recent development in the social media sphere and its impact on the Singapore Malay/Muslim community and the inter-ethnic relations as a whole. This paper is based on an edited transcription of papers delivered during the Community in Review 2012 seminar by the same titled held on 10 March 2012.


Irresponsible Speech and Web 2.0: Law’s Limitations in the Digital Age by Assistant Professor Eugene KB Tan

Racial and Religious Offence: Why Censorship Doesn’t Cut It by Associate Professor Cherian George

Malay Youth, Subcultures and Multimedia by Assistant Professor Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir

Connecting Virtual Voices by Mr Zaqy Mohamad, MP

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