DISCLAIMER: to be read with a pinch of salt.
For whatever reasons, Caleb Rozario felt angry that day. He wanted to vent badly.
He had always been vocal about the things he found disdainful in Singapore and he was never shy of voicing his opinions on Facebook. His actions did gain him some enemies, especially when some netizens took the effort to screenshot his posts and republish them on online sites like The Real Singapore (TRS). Perhaps then it was the comments of the netizens on TRS, calling him names and accusing him of being a bad foreigner in Singapore that made his blood boil.
So Rozario went on Facebook, logged into his personal account and posted the following:
“I am not scared of TOC and all these blogs, I am gonna blow MBS up sooner or later (or so claimed the netizens, Rozario said).”
Not long after, Rozario was given a college assignment from his school, SAE Institute, that required him to create a special-effects video.
So he blew up MBS; he did so through an animated video clip purely conjured out of computer software. The real MBS towers remained intact. (Rozario’s video looked something like Jack Neo’s attempt to blow up the Singapore Flyer and Merlion in Ah Boys to Men)
“I chose Marina Bay Sands in particular for cinematic effect. In Hollywood movies, they have a tendency to attack landmarks,” he now explains. But many people saw his Facebook post and his video clip and drew the inevitable link. One such person was Jason Lee.
Lee saw the act of digital make-belief as a terrorist threat and he decided to ‘facebook’ the police force. Then netizens went into a full blown assault. Online warriors sharpened their keys in their furious response to Rozario to tell him what an ass he had been. The guys at HardwareZone soon divulged Rozario’s personal details for anyone who wanted to go ‘Jihad’ on Rozario.
No netizen has the decency to point out that Rozario’s MBS video was a college assignment.
Then the real action happened.
Twenty-three-year-old Rozario did not need to wait long before the actual police force hauled him to the station. He could possibly be charged under the Telecommunications Act. Offenders may be jailed for not more than seven years or fined not more than SGD50,000, or both.
As of now, the police have been mum on the details. The information online and The Straits Times have not been clear if Rozario will be charged for his personal Facebook post or his animated video clip.
In jump the experts. Delighted, they say, “What people do and say gets noticed very quickly compared to, say, in a big country like the US. And it definitely has repercussions offline.”
Rozario restorts back, “I was just venting. The average person complains all the time. The only reason it got blown up was because someone combed through my Facebook account, compiled everything slightly controversial and put it all in one post.”
The battle of Rozario vs. Singapore does not end here. Tomorrow there will be more Rozarios among us. People who have allowed their thoughts to go wild on their personal Facebook page. People who are angry at a certain segment of society. It is almost like you no longer have the right to call a spoilt brat, a spoilt brat if you are not Singaporean enough. Lest you become the next Bashing Point at TRS.
After Rozario, after Anton Casey, the bigger question we need to ask ourselves is this: how should Singaporeans react to nasty online comments? Yes, we should stand up for ourselves. Yes, we can retort in anger.
But should we be angry enough to call a college assignment a terrorist threat? Should we be angry enough to dismiss, without dialogue, any Singapore-unfriendly comments on social media sites?
We seem to have lost our sense of humour. Let’s not be so dour…