SPH responds to master’s call

November 12, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

The Straits Times today carried the Government’s reply to Mr Bob Amsterdam’s White Paper – and right on cue. The newspaper remained silent on the issue until the PAP whistled its call.

Mr Amsterdam’s document which highlights the political repression in Singapore was released a week ago. Since then a multitude of news organisations including major ones like MSN, Reuters, AOL, etc. have picked up the story. Even the Huffington Post carried a news item on the matter (see previous post).

But the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) maintained a disciplined silence. That is, until the Government released its response yesterday. For the uninitiated, former PAP chairman and deputy prime minister, Dr Tony Tan, runs the SPH which owns the stable of local newspapers.

Singaporeans deserve a news organisation that provides the news – both sides of the news, that is – and one that let’s them draw their own conclusions.

Why couldn’t the Straits Times run a report on the White Paper as a news item and then report the Government’s response when it is issued? Why withhold legitimate news about the White Paper and report only the Government’s stand?

And as sure as the sun rises, the newspaper will publish letters in its Forum page criticising the SDP for being disloyal and attacking Singapore.

This is another example of how the local press cements its reputation as the Pravda of Singapore. And to think Law Minister K Shanmugam can say with a straight face to the New York State Bar Association that criticisms of the media here are “quite absurd and divorced from reality.”

But more important to note is that the PAP/media complex will continue to campaign against the Singapore Democrats and to keep Singaporeans in the dark as to what is happening with and about the party.

While they still afford other opposition parties some coverage, the media black out news about the SDP’s activities and views. This is despite all that we have done and continue to do both online and on the ground.

The singling out of the SDP can be attributed to one reason: We are calling for a reform of the PAP system that has been rammed down the throats of the people and we want power to be returned to the people. 

This includes the freedom to speak and assemble peaceably, not just to cast their votes once every five years in an election system that the ruling party controls and manipulates.

The media blackout on the Democrats is done to ensure that the electorate does not get an informed and accurate picture of the SDP. The PAP can then point to the illusion that the people reject the SDP at the polls and hence reject democratic reform.

Is this not an outcome engineered by the PAP to perpetuate its hold on power with the opposition playing only a mosquito-like role in Singapore’s politics? This has been going on for decades and, without reform, will go on for decades more. 

How will this benefit the people?