Another disingenuous TODAY report on Dr Chee

Chee Siok Chin
07 Dec 06

The report Why Chee is in hospital that appeared in Today newspaper dated 6 December 2006 is another disingenuous piece of reporting by the local press.

Perhaps the writer of the article Loh Chee Kong should have checked with the SDP before he blindly reported all that he was told by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). But then, what can one expect from a a newspaper that is controlled by the government?

The reporter wrote that the SDP “had hinted on its website that Chee had been ill-treated, singled out and even drugged”. He seemed to suggest that Dr. Chee was physically mistreated and punished. The SDP would thank Loh for pointing out which part of the statement “hints” this.

Loh also reported that “MHA pointed out that his three cell mates and all other prisoners ate the same food without incident”. The same food may have been served to all prisoners, but do they all eat out of the same servings or the same trays of food? Surely, a journalist who has had any kind of basic journalistic training or integrity would have asked this question.

Today also said that “Chee refused to eat the hospital meals …. But, a day later, Chee changed his mind and decided to eat the dinner he had selected from the hospital menu.” What the reporter had conveniently omitted was the the SDP statement that said “Dr Chee is amenable to consuming hospital food”. That was why he ate the hospital meal the next day.

Loh also reported “another food saga erupted” at the hospital, giving readers the impression that an incident had occurred. He writes as if he was at the scene. The fact is that he wasn’t. I was. There was no saga. Dr Chee had declined to choose a packet of food and that was accepted by all present in the room, including the prison authorities.

The statement that “Chee declared he would only eat home-cooked meals by his wife” is untruthful. When the prison authorities told him that cooked-food is not to be brought in to prison or the hospital, Dr Chee had said that he would be happy to consume packet biscuits and beverages as long as they handed to him by a family member, not through prison wardens. He would also added that he would be happy to have all his packet food inspected by them in his presence.

Dr Chee has not refused all medical treatment. Perhaps the MHA should have told Mr Low that Dr Chee had done a chest X-ray, a CT scan and urine test. The doctor had also examined his abdomen and had told us that he was suffering from abdominal tenderness.

The MHA also said that Chee had “demanded to be treated differently from other inmates…He has sought for more yard time, for more visits from his family than is entitled to other prisoners … ”

Dr Chee had requested to be given an extra half an hour of yard time. He did not demand it, as the MHA would like the public to believe.

It is public knowledge that Dr Chee and I have been sued by MM Lee Kuan Yew and his son, PM Lee Hsien Loong. We did not have any legal counsel. Thus I had to see him in prison to discuss this matter as there are deadlines to meet in December. I had impressed it upon the prison authorities as had Dr Chee, that this is not a family visit. Dr Chee’s immediate family will be seeing him only on their next visit assigned by the prison. However, the MHA has again, chosen to distort this visit and the Today reporter had chosen not to clarify this or any of MHA’s claims with the SDP.

Unfortunately, slants and the untruths such as those in Loh Chee Kong’s report will continue to be a plague in local reporting unless the media is freed from the shackles that binds its reporters and editors.