The government’s new information decree has broad wording that aims to stop information that causes “the public to panic” when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Significantly, the decree expands on a previous order which aimed to curb the spread of fake news and misinformation. In the new order, the term misinformation has been dropped completely. That means that now that spreading any information that causes the public to panic could be violating the new decree and could end with a prison sentence.
Obviously, for journalists, this new decree is extremely problematic.
As the adage goes, facts don’t care about your feelings. And the news must reported truthfully and honestly even if it incites public unrest.
One cannot help but think that this new emergency decree has been passed by the government because it has been under pressure for its poor Covid-19 response.
The government has been under pressure not only for its poor handling of the lockdown/restrictions leading to the spreading of the virus throughout the country and economic ruin but also its poor vaccination policies which has seen the use of ineffective vaccines despite insurmountable evidence that Sinovac must be dropped.
But instead of trying to do a better job, the government thinks that the best course of action to ease the pressure that it is feeling is to pass a decree that will muzzle the public’s free speech.
Instead of implementing a better vaccination program that aims to provide quality vaccines to frontline workers and the public, the government has chosen to go after the comment boards on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.
Instead of providing meaningful subsidies to businesses affected by Covid-19, the government has chosen to pursue journalists doing their job.
Instead of introducing lockdown and restrictions in a timely an efficient manner, instead of providing food and healthcare to workers locked up in camps, the government is choosing to spend time, money and effort to make sure that LINE chats are sharing the right information.
The government, unable to figure things out with the pandemic, is reverting to the one thing it does know, authoritarianism.
Because the passage of this decree is exactly what a military government would do. Unable to fight the rising tide of public dissatisfaction, the government is pursuing the heavy-handed, intellectually-stunted approach that all military men eventually fall back on.