If they were any lingering doubts that the media were the propaganda-wing of the PAP, the news “reports” of the assessment of damages hearing removed them.
Through selective reporting, accompanied by “politically correct” photographs and sketches it was clear that there was one and only one objective – to make the Lees appear hero-like.
It must be gratifying – and comforting, or course – for our leaders to know that what the say and do will be washed, bleached and perfumed for public consumption.
Unwitting Singaporeans get this glorified image punched into their mindsets and are lulled into a dangerous state of political torpor. Our leaders develop a weakness of the mind.
This is where the danger lies.
But for all his cleverness, Mr Lee Kuan Yew cannot see this danger (assuming that that is what concerns him in the first place).
But that’s another discussion for another day.
For now, it is important to note how the coverage has completely ignored reality. With headlines like “Typical Chee – he changes story when caught out” and “SDP chief’s version ‘at odds with the facts'” the intent was obvious – portray the Lees as statesmen and Dr Chee as the villain.
Little or no coverage was given to the many exchanges between Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Dr Chee. This would be political blasphemy. How can the MM be confronted with questions that assailed his integrity? And worse, made to answer to the opposition?
Dr Chee: He (Mr Lee Kuan Yew) is talking about his integrity. Is this the same integrity that you are referring to when your government in 1963 arrested all your political opponents under Operation Coldstore?
Mr Davinder Singh, counsel for the plaintiffs, rises to object.
Dr Chee (turning to Mr Singh): Let him answer, he wants to answer.
Judge Belinda Ang: Question is disallowed.
Mr Singh: Thank you, Your Honour.
Dr Chee: He wants to talk about integrity and I want to talk about integrity. Let’s talk about integrity, Mr Lee. Is this the same integrity as you are referring to when you jailed Mr Chia Thye Poh for 32 years, when you imprisoned Dr Lim Hock Siew for 19 years, and when depriving them all –
Judge Ang: Question is disallowed.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew: May I point out to you what Singapore was when I became prime minister in 1959 and what Singapore is now. We had less than $100 million in the kitty. Now that the assets that we have and I am not disclosing this but Global Financial Services assessed Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund at over $300 billion.
Dr Chee: I am impressed. Now –
Mr Lee Kuan Yew: If you are impressed, Mr Chee – Dr Chee, if you’re impressed, you would not have made these allegations.
Dr Chee: Mr Lee, is this the same integrity where you’re talking about declassified documents from London?
Judge Ang: Irrelevant.
Dr Chee: – that you have –
Judge Ang: The witness is not required to answer.
Dr Chee: And I would like – well, Your Honour, he’s brought up integrity and I just want to be able to pursue that line just a little bit more. Is it the same integrity –
Mr Singh: Your Honour, I object to this line of questioning.
Dr Chee: That you are referring to, Mr Lee, where now we begin to know –
Justice Ang: Question is disallowed.
Dr Chee: – and as a young man, I didn’t – I believed you but now I’m reading declassified documents from London saying that somehow –
Mr Singh: Your Honour –
Dr Chee: – somehow, Mr Lim Chin Siong –
Mr Singh: Your Honour, please stop him.
Dr Chee: – was in his –
Judge Ang: Dr Chee
Dr Chee: Was in his political situation, and that somehow –
Judge Ang: Your question is disallowed.
Dr Chee: – you had – I beg your pardon, Your Honour?
Justice Ang: The question is disallowed. How is this relevant to the assessment of damages?
Dr Chee: You haven’t even heard my question yet. You haven’t even heard my question. Let me ask the question and then you can disallow it, Your Honour.
Mr Lee remained quiet.
What happened to his earlier bravado that he would be ready to answer any question not only on this suit but also on his life? Not a word of this in the newspapers.
This is not the first time that such nonsense has taken place. Past instances involving the SDP also received such dishonest media treatment. The difference now is that we have the Internet.
The problem, however, is that the reach of cyberspace is limited compared to the mainstream press. To this extent, the PAP still has the upper hand. Hopefully, this will change.
This website will continue to reveal the exchanges that went on in the courtroom over the next few days. Be sure to check back. (See also next post.)