An elite school that dissuaded its students from engaging in political discussions online amid the election season doubled down in a statement issued today.
Hwa Chong Institution said that while it has always encouraged its students to learn and discuss national issues, it thinks that social media might not be a safe environment for robust discourse considering during an election, as many statements made online are driven by an agenda to gain votes.
In its statement to Coconuts Singapore today, the school said that it is also concerned that students’ posts could be screen-captured, taken out of context, and go viral even though the original posts were published on private accounts. Also, what goes up on the internet, tends to stay on the internet.
“The platforms used and the timing for such discourse are important considerations. 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,” the statement read.
“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,” it added.
The school’s statement came a day after an internal email telling students to refrain from engaging in political discussions on social media during the elections made its way online. It drew disapproval from some for discouraging students from taking part in political discourse.
The school was criticized for what many perceived as an attempt to silence its students.
The school said it did not intend to silence its junior college students or make them “apathetic regarding national issues.”
“Our intention is not to silence students’ voices, nor to curb their interest in national issues. Instead, we encourage our students to engage actively in discussions and even debates on national issues, in a safe environment,” it said.