A couple of weeks ago in this website, the SDP had informed Singaporeans that the Straits Times was about to write another one of those essays that lie about almost everything it pens about the Singapore Democrats.
No matter, we said. We will take on any and every point and rebut them. The problem was that while the Straits Times would run these attack ads, they would refuse the right of reply to the very people they attacked.
The feature on Insight on 18 September 2004 and the letters that followed questioned and ridiculed the international work that the SDP is doing. Yet when the Party sets out to explain why the process is not only important but also necessary, the newspaper sees it unfit for its readers to be informed of our side of the story.
But to pour scorn on the newspaper is to miss the point. After all, the media is only a minion of a bigger power – an entity that the late David Marshall dismissed as “bootlickers” and “prostitutes”.
The problem really is the PAP. While it never hesitates to rubbish the SDP in the media, it ensures that the Democrats never get the chance to present opposing views. This is not politics. This is sleaze.
This is also why Dr Chee Soon Juan has asked Mr Lee Kuan Yew to make his accusations on live television where Dr Chee can then face Mr Lee in an open debate. Dr Chee is not afraid of the accusations that the MM makes as he will speak to every single one of them. Instead it is Mr Lee who seems to be running scared and carrying out his attacks through the media he controls and not letting the SDP secretary-general respond.
Bear in mind that it was Mr Lee who first accused Dr Chee of running away and not daring to face him in court. Dr Chee returned to Singapore and has called for Mr Lee to return to the stand for cross-examination and in addition challenged the MM to a live debate. After hearing about the live debate challenge, Mr Lee has fallen uncharacteristically quiet…
This episode between Dr Chee and Mr Lee is only a symptom of a much more malignant disease. The use of the local media (and the initimidation of the foreign one) only serves to cover-up the disastrous consequences of PAP policies. While the people of Singapore keep getting it drummed into their heads that the PAP’s control is good for Singapore, the problems of the economy and society continue to simmer and eat away at the heart of the nation.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his PAP can only win when they have the media to deny their opponent of the chance to counterargue. The problem is that their every victory consigns Singapore further and further into a future that has the spark of a wet matchstick.
With the economy gasping, skilled Singaporeans emigrating, and society unable to shake out from its torpor freedom of speech, which includes a free and pluralistic media, has become an essential tool over which the future of our nation pivots. For the sake of securing our future, the PAP’s armlock on the media must be broken.