Minister for Communication, Information and the Arts Mr Lui Tuck Yew is dragging his feet in renewing the licence for the SDP’s newspaper, The New Democrat.
The Singapore Democrats submitted our application for the renewal on 21 Apr 10 and was told the process would take about two to three weeks to process. Even a new application for a publication permit would, according to the Media Development Authority’s (MDA) telephone recording, take only three to four weeks. Our application has already taken three months.
When contacted MDA Customer Service Officer, Ms Toh Siew Kuan, informed us that she had done everything to facilitate the process of our application. She indicated that the application is with Minister Lui and that there is nothing else she can do.
When asked if there was any other information or fee that was needed to be paid, Ms Toh said that everything was in order. She admitted that the delay was “not normal” but could not give a reason for it.
Her supervisor, Deputy Registrar Mr A R Madiee, also said that the application has been handed over to the Ministry and could only say that there is nothing else he could do about the matter. He, too, admitted that the delay was not usual.
The Singapore Democrats depend on the newspaper to disseminate news and views about the party and national issues. With the media under the thumb of the PAP, The New Democrat is our only communication line with the voters.
The newspaper is also an important source of revenue for the party. Proceeds from the sales go into funding our election campaign. Every week that is delayed means that our campaign budget is being cut into.
The MDA has a set of procedures and criteria on which it bases its decision on whether to approve or reject an application. As part of the civil service, the MDA has an obligation to discharge its duties fairly and independently without interference from the minister.
Mr Lui should not be the decision-maker on whether to approve our application as he is a partisan player who will be contesting under the PAP in the coming elections.
The MDA must make a decision immediately. If it rejects the application, it needs to give a reason so that the Singapore Democrats can take the necessary course of action, including seeking legal remedies.
But by sitting on the application, it is making it impossible for the SDP to operate and run an effective election campaign. We urge the MDA to renew our newspaper licence without further delay.
Mr Lui Tuck Yew
Communications for Information, Communication and the Arts
Re: Renewal for The New Democrat
We write to you about the Singapore Democratic Party’s application for the renewal of our newspaper licence for the The New Democrat.
We submitted the application on 21 April 2010 and was told by various officers at the Media Development Authority including Deputy Registrar Mr A R Madiee and Customer Service Officer Ms Toh Siew Kuan that it normally takes two to three weeks for the application to be processed.
We are also told that our application is personally held by you. If you decide to reject our application, please let us know immediately and state the reasons so that we can follow-up with the necessary course of action.
You must know that it has already been three months since our application and we have yet to hear from you or the MDA. We urge you to approve our application without further delay. You must know that with the impending elections, it is important that we publish our newspaper as soon as possible.
We await your reply.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party