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Blatant as it is, it is not the first time that such kind of censorship has taken place. Remember how Channel News Asia (CNA) excludedthe SDP in its talk shows even as it invited the other opposition parties?
It was only when we protested to the producer of the show that CNA grudgingly included us in its programming, grudgingly because it restricted our appearance only in the English language segment of Talking Point and stipulated who we could not send as our representative.
Such attempts to marginalise the Singapore Democrats was not restricted to MediaCorp. In 2009, newspapers ran reports about the online presence of political parties but completely ignored the SDP knowing full well that we are very active in cyberspace.
They did the same when reporting about youth wings. Even though the SDP was the first opposition to establish a youth wing and was actively engaging Singaporean youths through the years, the press refused to acknowledge the existence of the Young Democrats. (See here)
Such a trend has continued into the present. Following the elections in May 2011, the Singapore Democrats have been actively reaching out to Singaporeans through various activities and initiatives. For example:
- We helped a block if Woodlands’ residents overcome their difficulties over the body-in-the-water-tank issue;
- We organised food distribution and medical services for residents at Marsiling;
- We held block parties at the Ghim Moh estate;
- We organised a football tournament to reach out to youths;
- We resumed our walkabouts almost immediately after the last elections including starting our campaign at Tanjong Pagar;
- We had our own leaders of the movie industry openly helping us to raise funds and so on.
None of these activities were reported by the media. Ordinarily they would have made news but because they involved the SDP, they had to be blacked out.
A stark example is our football tournament. While the press ignored our futsal tournament, it featured the football match in which the PAP and WP teamed up.
The censorship so pronounced that the Straits Times has gone so far as to openly say that it will not publish Dr Chee Soon Juan’s letters in its Forum page.
The net effect is that the majority of Singaporeans think that the SDP has gone to sleep after the GE which is absolutely untrue.
The PAP continues to get a freehand in shaping the political scene in Singapore including the kind of opposition it wants to see in Parliament. This is not speculation but confirmation of the PAP’s tactic. Mr Lee Hsien Loong said in May 2011 prior to the GE:
Not all opposition parties are the same. Some work within our system and try to play a constructive role; others try to pull down the system and bring it into disrepute. And I think there’s a difference in the way they approach politics and the way we approach them.
It is clear: Opposition parties that present an alternative programme advocating reform of the autocratic system will get little coverage whereas parties that abide by the PAP system or even subscribe to it are promoted.
The media cannot give any meaningful coverage to the Singapore Democrats because if they do, Singaporeans will know what we stand for and will support us as a result. The PAP knows that the only way to deal with the SDP is to shut us out from the public’s mind.
Singaporeans must beware such a tactic.