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Sunday, 5 January 2014

Reply to TOC's Facebook Page re-post of Andy Wong's article on MDA Regulations

Some of these points I have already put on my Facebook Page, but I think it is useful to re-post on my blog, and add some clarifications.

Firstly, I have never said MDA regulates companies. That is the job of ACRA. Neither have I said that MDA is only interested in regulating companies. I have also NOT said anywhere that companies are special, as Andy Wong alleges.

My point is that in the case of The Independent and The Breakfast Network, after it was deemed that they were involved in the "promotion, propagation and/or discussion of political issues”, it was clear their mode of operation was through a corporate entity and so this entity was the subject of regulation. When the corporate entity The Breakfast Network Pte Ltd refused to register, then any social media platform it owns, be it website, Twitter and Facebook should be shut down. However once the corporate entity ceases to exist, the subject asked to register is inactive and thus regulation at this point is moot.

I don't know how to make it clearer.

Specifically, there are three simple points I can make to rebut 'blogger' Andy Wong, and The Online Citizen who claim he 'took apart' my reaction to Free My Internet Movement.

1) Andy Wong and TOC still claim that in Breakfast Network's case, it was the website and not the company the MDA was regulating.
These are the important parts from MDA's press statement:
"as we had assessed that as a corporate entity providing political commentary and news, they could be susceptible to foreign funding."
"MDA has informed Breakfast Network Pte Ltd that the company should cease to operate its online services"
"Should Breakfast Network Pte Ltd remain active as a company, it must not operate any iteration on other Internet platforms as doing so would contravene MDA’s registration requirements. These other Internet platforms include Breakfast Network’s Facebook page and Twitter Feed."

I do however agree that the first sentence in the press release is confusing

It says "MDA had required, operated by Breakfast Network Pte Ltd, to register under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification, as we had assessed that as a corporate entity providing political commentary and news, they could be susceptible to foreign funding."
"" is a URL. It is not a corporate entity as the statement grammatically implies. It is the Pte Ltd that is the corporate entity, as the rest of the statement says.

MDA should clarify.

2) Andy Wong then says the legislation does not say that MDA ONLY regulates companies.

As I said above, nobody said such a thing. I certainly did not.

The regulation allows MDA to regulate companies inter alia, which IN THIS CASE, MDA has chosen to do.

3) Employees and senior management can also be taken to task for the malfeasance of a company. A Pte Ltd

For example, the CEO, CFO of Enron were jailed even though Enron was a public listed company.

We are not talking about financial responsibility here, where a Pte Ltd shields even the shareholders from the debts of the company.

4) There are several ludicrous statements in the article which is not worth responding to including

"Strictly speaking, companies are not set up for commercial or profit-making reasons."