I got an interesting message today out of the blue from an obviously fake email address. The email itself was fairly innocuous, but I couldn’t help to do some in depth web-sleuthing on it:
I thought that you might find this story at Techdirt interesting.
“Indian School In Singapore Sues Parent Because Others Commented On His Blog.”
-File for Asia ([email protected])
After reading it I was a bit confused. Laws in Singapore don’t apply to me, obviously because I don’t live there anymore. And honestly, this article is of little interest to me.
Then, I remembered a few months ago I posted a fairly long comment on a Columbia Journalism Review article about the (lack) of press freedoms in Singapore. Since my 700 word comment, in which I used my full name, only one person responded to it and thanked me for my views.
I then did a Google search of “John Gamboa”+Singapore and came across a site called Transitioning.org, which describes itself as a support network for unemployed Singaporeans. Transitioning had copied and pasted my comment in its entirety from the CJR (it’s also on my site as well) in late June. My comment is now entitled, “Press freedom: Views of a Foreigner studying journalism in Singapore local university.”
One comment on Transitioning called my journalistic integrity into question because of my proximity to a story I mentioned in the piece. The commenter said he supported the work of Singapore Press Holdings, the government-owned corporation that owns the Straits Times newspaper, but gave no reason why.
I’m even more curious about this whole thing because of defamation charges against Alan Shadrake, an English journalist who criticized the Singaporean justice system’s use of the death penalty in a book called, “Once A Jolly Hangman.” These recent events have put the Singaporean press laws into question by countless international organizations.
It’s likely just the work of an Internet troll, but this is the first time it’s ever happened to me. Someone must have been Googling Singapore press freedoms and came across me in some way, because the article I was sent about web comment defamation was originally published in July.
The best I can understand is that somebody thought I still lived in Singapore, and was trying to warn me of my comments I have made on the web. In America, making comments online is written off, but in Singapore, you can get arrested and questioned.
I’m really unsure as to why I’m writing about this weird Web encounter that I can almost guarantee means nothing, but it was a weird enough anecdote for me to write about. So, yeah.