An elite Singapore school thinks politics are too “complex” for its students and instructed them not to discuss the election online, even on their personal social media platforms, according to a leaked email.
According to the internal message sent to students that found its way online, the Hwa Chong Institution in Bukit Timah called on students not to post or engage with any election-related content on social media, citing the “complex” and “nuanced” nature of politics.
“In view of the nature of political campaigning, the school would like to advise all students to refrain from posting or re-posting messages, tweets, posts, web links, photos, videos, anything pertaining to the Singapore General Elections 2020 on both their private social media platforms, and any social media platforms associated with the school …,” it read.
The school even made a special mention of not commenting on any media platforms “which do not allow for longer, more nuanced responses to these issues,” and called on students to reach out if any of them are affected by any brewing “online or media firestorm.”
“As the context to many of these messages, tweets, posts, 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.”
Hwa Chong Institution did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment from Coconuts Singapore.
The timestamp of the school’s email indicated it was sent Monday afternoon to all first and final year students. The name of the sender was redacted in images shared online.
The intrusion into student’s personal expression drew some disapproval from online for discouraging students from taking part in political discourse.
“Some political parties are calling for the voting age to be lowered from 21 to 18 in their manifestos. Meanwhile, Hwa Chong Institution has sent an email around to its students advising them to not post/re-post anything related to GE2020 on their social media,” human rights/socio-political writer Kirsten Han said. “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?”
“Basically the school doesn’t want to be implicated if anyone posts something viral. you know, to avoid cases where netizens go ‘no wonder he said this! hwa chong student! Elitist!’” Miqhayil Khan said on Facebook.
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