SINGAPORE — Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) has clarified its decision to send out an internal email advising its students to refrain from posting or re-posting about the General Election on social media.
The email, which was dated on 29 June (Monday), told the students not to do so on both their private social media platforms nor any social media associated with the school.
“As the context of many of these messages, tweets, etc tend to be complex and nuanced, it would be best to refrain from commenting on them on social media, especially on media which do not allow for longer, more nuanced responses to these issues,” the email had said.
It was shared by political activist Kirsten Han on Wednesday, and in her Facebook post, she posed the question, “What does it do to our society when young Singaporeans are openly warned away from politics as if it's something dangerous to be afraid of?”
HCI: Intention not to silence students voices
When Yahoo News Singapore contacted HCI about the email, a spokesperson said that the school’s intention was not to silence students’ voices, nor to curb their interest in national issues.
“We certainly do not want our students to be apathetic regarding national issues. But because of their youth, we also do not want them to be inadvertently embroiled in agendas beyond their control,” the spokesperson said.
“We encourage our students to engage actively in discussions and even debates on national issues, in a safe environment.”
The spokesperson added that it is the school’s position that social media is not a suitable platform for students to be discussing their views on national issues, especially during an election period.
“Students’ posts could be screen-captured, taken out of context and circulated further, even if the original posts were published in their private accounts. Such digital footprints could remain even if the posts were removed,” the spokesperson said.
“Therefore, the advice we have given our students serves to remind them of the importance of exercising care and sensitivity on all social media platforms, even on their own private accounts, given the public nature of social media.”
The HCI spokesperson also added that the school engages its students in “robust discussions on national and civic matters” during their General Paper lessons. In addition, its Singapore National Education Council conducts regular student-led dialogues and other activities.
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