ST refuses to publish SDP’s reply to Jacky Foo

December 16, 2014
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrat

The Straits Times has refused to publish the SDP’s reply to the Government’s letter, sent through its Hong Kong Consulate-General Mr Jacky Foo, to Dr Chee Soon Juan op-ed A New Vision for Singapore published in the Wall Street Journal.$CUT$

The Straits Times had reported in full the Government’s rebuttal without providing readers with a similar account of Dr Chee’s piece. The newspaper also reported the PAP’s comment that Dr Chee was “dishonest” and that he “panders to the editorial tastes of the Western media” without telling readers that Dr Chee had sent the piece to the Straits Times first for publication before submitting it to the Wall Street Journal.

Today and Channel News Asia also carried the reports but have also refused to publish Dr Chee’s reply which we post here:

Not possible for poor Singaporeans to live on $1,000/month

In its reply to my op-ed (“A New Vision for Singapore,” Nov. 28), the government, through its Consular-General Jacky Foo in Hong Kong, accuses me of not sticking to facts.

It stated that like many other countries, income inequality has increased. What it doesn’t say is that income inequality in Singapore is one of the highest among comparable economies. In addition, this inequality is almost wholly a creation of government policy and inaction.

For instance, while the government rewrites banking laws to attract high net-worth individuals from across the world (Singapore has the highest proportion of millionaires globally), it refuses to legislate minimum wage.

And while we are, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the most expensive city in the world (much of which is due to land prices controlled by the state), we still have families, to cite the government’s letter, “earning just 1,000 Singapore dollars ($800) a month”.

The government asserts that these families are able to afford their own apartment. It forgets that they still need to eat, transport themselves to work, send their children to school, seek medical treatment when they fall ill, and save for retirement. Singapore has one of the highest household debt-to-GDP ratios in Asia at 77%, steadily increasing from 64% in 2007.

I should not be the one accused of being out of touch with reality.

As for the collective performance of government-linked companies, it is fair to say that the results are, at best, murky because of the less-than-transparent way the parent company, Temasek Holdings, operates.

The government concludes that I “pander to the editorial tastes of the Western media”. For the record, I offered the piece to the Straits Times, but it was not accepted. I would love to have this discussion take place in the Singapore media with Singaporean readers but given the government’s control of the local press such a development is, most unfortunately, not going to happen anytime soon.

My response to the government’s claim that elections in Singapore are free and fair – and such elections are possible only with a free media – is, perhaps, best laid out by the Straits Times‘ refusal to publish my piece and yet give the government’s response full coverage.

The only way to know what Singaporeans really think about the current government and the alternative policies of the SDP is to free the media and allow Singaporeans an informed choice to decide their own fate.

Chee Soon Juan
Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party