The SDP has recently been drawing attention to the fact that the state-controlled media has not been fair about its news coverage. We all know that the PAP always gets top-billing in the reportage, that’s no surprise.
There is also, however, a difference in the way opposition parties are covered.
Take, for instance, the recent telecasts on Channel NewsAsia. Last Saturday night’s televised debate was the first time that the Singapore Democrats have ever appeared on its programme. We were, however, not invited to the Chinese forum.
The Workers’ Party, on the other hand, has been on all of the programmes. This is not the first time that this has happened. In past years and the previous election, a similar pattern existed.
This has obviously resulted in a difference in perception between the two parties, illustrated no better that the recent poll conducted by The New Paper and reported on this website.
Occupying second and third places after the PAP are the WP and SDP respectively. Closer scrutiny of the results yield interesting observations:
Looking that the breakdown of the responses, the number of people who said that they were neutral about the two opposition parties (purple band) are the same (SDP = 251, WP=250 out of 1003 respondents).
The WP are ahead when in comes to the number of people who responded to whether they thought a party was credible or not (blue band; SDP = 235 , WP= 414 ).
But take a look at the number of respondents who said that have not heard of the party (green band). Many more people indicated that they have not heard of the SDP (182) than the WP (18). The difference between the two parties in the ‘neutral’ category is the almost the same as the difference between the two parties in the ‘credible’ category (179 respondents).
It seems that more said that the WP was credible because more had heard of the party (remember, the number who indicated that they were ‘neutral’ about the two parties are the same).
This is why the SDP fights so hard for fair coverage in the mass media. Political parties need to be known to voters in order to win their support. The Singapore Democrats are confident that if the electorate heard more about our policies and candidates, they will like and support us more.
Unfortunately, the SPH and MediaCorp also know this, and hence the attempts to minimise SDP’s news coverage.
All we are asking is for fair reporting of the SDP. We are a party with our own policies and platform, and we certainly do more than our share of hard work to earn our support. In a real meritocracy, this would be reflected in the media as well as in public polls.