Sg Review: Why do you bother, Straits Times?

October 6, 2003
Singapore Democrats

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Dear Mr Tan Tarn How,

Given your paper’s past relation with Sg Review, I am quite surprised that you continue to approach us for comments/interviews.

Bitter experience from past interviews with Straits Times and New paper have thought us that SPH practises its own unique brand of journalism.

Why bother with the formality and appearance of an interview when most of the interview is excluded from the final article in SPH, and the little bits and pieces that do survive strict censorship are manupulated and twisted (your choice of words will be edited of cause) so that they no longer reflect the official position of our news group?

Its highly likely that you have approached other internet political groups for comments. Why not just fabricate an interview and go ahead to write your own story in your own way? Please forgive my apparent discomfort as we (the members of the foreign press) are still not used to Singapores compliant local press and the governments unique stand on free-speech and free-expression.

Nonetheless as you have again approached us for comments, we will give you
frank and honest answers and rely on you to publish this interview in a
professional manner.

ST: What is the number of users now?
Sg_Rev: Subscriber numbers are shown on our website. As of 2 Oct 2003 there are 2,239 subscribers.

ST: Are you thinking of using a mailing list to disseminate your information like The Optical? Why not?
Sg_Rev: Daily News Letters via e-mail are the chief means for circulating our News Letters. But subscribers can also visit our website to look-up our
archives.

ST: Do you have the Internet laws on electioneering at the back of your minds at you are doing this, even though elections are unlikely to be some
time yet?
Sg_Rev: No, we dont really care about a pre-determined, forgone conclusion. The main intent is to educate the average lay-person and provide insights into local issues from a fresh perspective.

ST: What happens if you get a message from MDA asking you to stop putting up political content during the elections?
Sg_Rev: Well cross that bridge when we come to it. Given Singapore’s hostile and unfriendly socio-political environment, its likely that our little News Group will have a short life span. Unlike SPH, we are a non-profit free-speech organisation with very limited reosources. But we intend to make the most of our limited shelf-life.

ST: How will you get around it?
Sg_Rev: Lets see now…should we even attempt to answer that one. You are a Singapore government runned, government managed and government owned print journal. Do you really expect me to give you a straight answer on this when the information is likely to be used against the News Group?

ST: Do you think they are on to you, and that they can trace who you are if they want to? Are you afraid of that?
Sg_Rev: I have no doubts they can find out where the News Group is managed
from. As to the actual people behind the News Group (there are quite afew)
thats another matter. Are we afraid? Well, lets just say we are quite accustomed to the PAP governments modus operandi which involves subjugation, intimidation and relentless persecutions of any person who has the misfortune of being a tad too vocal on human rights and political issues. Some times its almost laughable the way the goliath uses a bazooka to swat at a hapless fly. But thats another story.

ST: What do you think of those laws?
Sg_Rev : They are of no interest to us. Attempting to control the internet is like trying to control the incoming tide or the orbit of the planets.

ST: Do you think sites like yours, in isolation, or in total would have an effect on voter opinion?
Sg_Rev: Perhaps, but as I have stated, we are in actuality a politically
neutral News Group. Just because we remain critical of local government
policies does not automatically relegate us to any one opposition party. We are not politically aligned.

ST: How would you characterise the ‘political’ stance of your site: pro-PAP, anti- or something else?
Sg_Rev: See our comments above.

Thanks for the articles on the Internet Laws. We will circulate this interview and the below articles for the benefit of our readers. It will also be very interesting for our readers to compare the actual interview above, to the final cut (edited) version that will (or will not) make its appearance on ST.

Mellanie Hewlitt
Editor
Singapore Review