Smiley-faced crab, Cheung Sha Beach, Lantau Island, Hong Kong

Me

I am a professor at the Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Communication and Film, writing on media and politics. You can contact me via the form at the bottom of my bio page.

Interests

My research and writing focus on:

Hate propaganda and disinformation: How intolerance and hate are used in political contention, threatening freedom and equality around the world.

Media freedom and censorship: How journalism around the world struggles to serve the public interest in the face of external and internal threats.

Singapore media and politics: The governing party’s authoritarian resilience and hegemonic control of political expression.

Just published

Red Lines: Political Cartoons and the Struggle against Censorship, released by the MIT Press in August, is a global study of 21st century censorship as experienced by political cartoonists around the world. It is rendered entirely in graphic form, in collaboration with comic book artist Sonny Liew. Urban Comics will publish the French edition. Visit our website.

Current projects

Academic freedom in Singapore: I co-authored a report based on a groundbreaking survey of academics in Singapore universities. You can download the full report here. Am working on a chapter on the same subject for a volume on academic freedom in Asia, to be published by the Associaition of Asian Studies’ Asia Shorts book series.

Hong Kong media freedom after the crackdown: Fu Hualing and Michael Khor of Hong Kong University have invited me to contribute to their edited volume on the National Security Law, to be published by HKU Press. They also organised a conference in June 2021 for authors to discuss their chapters. My conference presentation is here. My essay on the same topic has been published in Global Media Journal.

The power and precarity of the pencil: Taking as a point of departure the New York Times‘s extraordinary decision to stop running editorial cartoons entirely, this chapter examines the economic and professional precarity of political cartooning. It will appear in the volume Precarity in Journalism, edited by Linda Steiner and Kalyani Chadha.

Talks, Interviews

Closing keynote, Future of Journalism Conference, Cardiff University, 24 September 2021. “Freedom of expression on shifting ground: Confessions of a lost liberal”. — Full text available here.


At a HKU Law Faculty conference on Hong Kong’s National Security Law, I spoke about what we can learn from comparative censorship studies.
At a conference at the University of Hong Kong, I explained why a “fake news” law is likely to backfire in a polarised society such as Hong Kong, where trust is a rarer commodity than truth.

Historyogi Podcast: The history & effects of Singapore’s media regulation policies.


A conversation with political scientist Walid Jumblatt Abdullah on media and politics in Singapore, June 2020.
Ted Gover (@tedgover) in Los Angeles interviewed me in January 2021 on a wide range of topics, including hate propaganda and media freedom. 

Recently published

“As alarming as the on-going legal actions are, citizens’ access to information and ideas is more likely to be restricted by less spectacular and coercive means, including economic carrots and sticks that encourage a culture of self-censorship. Such an environment requires new mindsets and skillsets among journalists.”

My essay on “What global censorship studies tell us about Hong Kong’s media future” was published in Global Media Journal (German Edition).

“Hate propaganda has a history measurable in millennia, considerably longer than the digitally assisted misinformation that has triggered concern in recent years.”

My chapter on “Hate Propaganda” appears in The Routledge Companion to Media Disinformation and Populism edited by Howard Tumber and Silvio Waisbord.

Co-authored with Donald Low, PAP v PAP: The Party’s struggle to adapt to a changing Singapore was released in October 2020.

My book, Air-Conditioned Nation Revisited: Essays on Singapore Politics, was published by Ethos Books in February 2020. Download a chapter: “The Dogma Behind Pofma“.

• Please visit the My Publications page on this site for more.

Gallery

Ladybug, Enryakuji

Selected commentaries

Singapore’s media system overhaul: Singapore’s news media giant SPH will go non-profit, marking the end of the PAP government’s neoliberal approach to suppressing the press. It will use public funds instead. ⁦Read my commentary.

The future of media freedom in Hong Kong: My essay in Global Media Journal. Read.

Race and the PAP: A chapter from PAP v PAP on the what needs to change in Singapore’s management of cultural diversity.

Section 298 of Singapore’s Penal Code is a bad law that promotes offence-taking instead of tolerance; it needs to go. Read my commentary.

A call for clean online campaigning: Singapore’s online falsehoods law fails to regulate social media manipulation by the ruling party. Read this call for more transparency by a multidisciplinary team of experts.

Nationalist populism has emerged in Singapore, cultivated by a ruling party that once prided itself on elite-led technocratic government. Read my pre-election commentary on the post-Covid world.

Stay in touch

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My other sites

On hate propaganda in the world, titled after my book.
A site I manage with fellow Singaporean academics.
My blog on Singapore, titled after my book.
My blog on Singapore media, titled after my book.

On Twitter