I was reading a blog post on Al Jazeera’s ‘The Asia Blog‘ about a correspondent’s experience in Singapore in 1994. He was saying that though Singapore has grown in leaps and bounds, some things don’t change in terms of media censorship. He questions whether or not the removal of Al Jazeera English was truly a commercial decision and whether or not StarHub would be allowed to make its own decision about whether or not to carry the station.
I’m not an expert on this, but just from my general impressions there is still an atmosphere of self-censorship for fear of lawsuits and other legal actions here. I think it’s mostly due to the government’s zealous use of libel laws to maintain a pristine image. So, people still tend to be very very careful about what they say in regards to the government or any government entity. I’m not writing this post to debate whether or not the practice of libel lawsuits is a valid method of ensuring government stability. I’m merely responding to what the correspondent said in his blog post and affirming that, from a foreign perspective, the atmosphere is still a bit like what he said it was in 1994.
That being said, it’s very easy to get outside news in Singapore through world-wide traditional news networks online. News via internet is not censored here, and Singapore is one of the most ‘connected’ countries I’ve ever seen. Internet service is very affordable here. Not having access at home is also not a deterrent to connecting to the rest of the world. Anyone who has a device capable of browsing the internet can gain access for free through the wireless@sg initiative, which places free public wi-fi in almost all public facilities, including malls and libraries. So, if people want an outside view it’s very easy for them to access it, including Al Jazeera content online.
I was first exposed to Al Jazeera English in Qatar, when I was stationed there as a US Soldier. I was a little skeptical of the station at first, due to its name, but after getting over my bias, I’ve recognized it as one of the best news stations available. It offers a unique perspective on the world and while I don’t subscribe to the idea of believing everything from just one station, I use it as a balance against the other news stations I consume.
In short, I love Al Jazeera English. I love the stories it covers. I love the diversity.
I also love how I can still watch AJE streaming live via its iPhone app, even though it has been taken off the air in Singapore. It looks a little fuzzy blown up in this image, but on my iPhone screen it’s clear. The sound is clear. It streams easily over home wi-fi.
So, if you love AJE programming and have an iPhone, you can still watch it. The app is free. Just make sure you’re using wi-fi or you might go over your monthly data allowance.