The Flipside

Did you miss these stories in 2012?

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In "The FlipSide", local blogger Belmont Lay lets loose on local politics, culture and society. To be taken with a pinch of salt and parental permission is advised. In this post, he recaps the news you might have missed in 2012.

All year long, we have been bombarded with sex scandals every other month.

And news readers are getting sex scandal fatigue.

But not that it would deter anyone who is waiting for the trial of ex-Singapore Civil Defence Force Chief, Peter Lim, to start in 2013.

However, did you know that it was the Chinese tabloid Lianhe Wanbao that first broke this news at the beginning of 2012 of the high-profile arrests of this very senior officer under the Prevention of Corruption Act?

If you didn't, don't fret.

Here is a list of other news you might have missed in 2012 when you were distracted by sex, sex and more sex.

Trolling Facebook pages

One of the most noteworthy trends in the past 12 months has been the starting of anonymous and politically incorrect Facebook pages, one of which has been gaining a lot of traction online recently for busting racial taboos.

Called SMRT Ltd (Feedback), it claimed local MediaCorp actor Tay Ping Hui as one of its earliest victims who got trolled big time.

SMRT Ltd's administrators provoked a reaction out of Tay via Twitter by calling him a "cheapskate", and after which, things started to go downhill for the veteran actor.

SMRT Ltd (Feedback), emerged out of nowhere during the late 2011 in response to the spate of train breakdowns, and capitalised on commuters' transport woes as many sort an online outlet to complain.

And since then, a lot of innocent people have mistaken them for a real feedback channel.

Censorship still rules

In April, the Media Development Authority’s Board of Film Censors gave acclaimed British film, "Shame", a R21 rating and wanted to cut a group sex scene.

However, the movie’s director refused. He didn’t want any alterations to be made to his work just so it can please the sensibilities of a bunch of red-tape bureaucrats.

So, distribution plans for the movie were cancelled despite an appeal. MDA simply wouldn't let the movie pass without censorship.

And in October, local satirical comedy “Sex.Violence.FamilyValues" was banned on the week of its scheduled opening.

But has anyone considered why the film censors, having watched many undesirable movies in their lifetime, not become depraved? Why can they watch all the good stuff but not the larger society?

Lee Kuan Yew's laundry habits

But leave that thought aside because one of the strangest news to ever make it into print happened in August.

Ex-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's daughter, Lee Wei Ling, wrote a column in the mainstream press confessing that her father washes his own underwear, on top of other strange musings that were equally baffling.

This led to a lot of readers not knowing how to react to this news since something so important was never mentioned in Lee Kuan Yew's own memoirs.

Selective reporting

But what's more interesting is the news that the mainstream media did not publish.

Did you know that at the Red Bull Flugtag held at Siloso Beach at the end of October, a 30,000-strong crowd cheered loudly as replicas of ERP gantries were thrown into the sea?

The widespread cheer that greeted the destruction of the highly-despised ERP gantries was not mentioned in the mainstream media.

Oh yes, for the uninitiated: the Red Bull Flugtag is an event known around the world for showcasing the effects of gravity on non-flying objects.

But the whole idea is to see things get trashed.

Citizen journalism

So what is it that we should continue to look out for in 2013?

Well, the role that normal, everyday citizens can play in uncovering and disseminating information will grow bigger.

Barely two months ago, a hawk-eyed man of the street discovered that CISCO had issued a blank illegal parking ticket to a CISCO vehicle. And the person who made the discovery wrote a post about it on his blog.

CISCO's method of "issuing" a fine was quickly labelled as a "wayang", meaning "farcical", by everyone else online.

You can only imagine how bad that made CISCO look.

Social media rules

If there is one thing 2012 taught us, it is how increasingly social media is making the lives of mainstream media reporters a lot easier.

Social media practitioners are giving the mainstream media reporters news leads and setting them in the right direction. Otherwise, a lot of them will be grovelling aimlessly.

And that would have resulted in even more missed news that never would have been reported.

Other stories by Belmont
Too many fairweather fans in S'pore football
Student petitions Education Minister
Are S'poreans just way too cynical?
Fairytale of S$7,000-a-month S'pore cabbie

Belmont Lay is one of the editors of New Nation, an online publication that is 50% trustworthy.