Straits Times ducks Chee’s challenge

May 12, 2010
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

When Forum Editor, Mr Yap Koon Hong, demanded that Dr Chee Soon Juan retract his statement that the Straits Times was unfair and lacked integrity, Dr Chee countered by proposing that the newspaper publish in full the correspondence between the two parties. (See here)

Mr Yap ducked the challenge and would only say that “you leave us no choice but to withhold your contributions to the Forum page.”
Below is Dr Chee’s repsonse to Mr Yap:

11 May 2010

Dear Mr Yap,

This must be a world’s first where a newspaper demands a retraction from a letter writer questioning its integrity.

I have proposed that you publish in full our correspondence over the matter and allow me to respond to it. This will ensure transparency and allow the public to decide who’s right and who’s wrong. You ducked.

Readers will wonder why the Straits Times is suddenly so thin-skinned about accusations of bias. After all, Mr David Marshall when he was alive had some choice words for your newspaper, words which in comparison make mine sound like a compliment.

The truth is not that you have taken offence at my accusation. It is that you are desperately looking for an excuse not to continue publishing my letters of reply.

How do I know this? In one of my letters I wrote in 2008, you had told me that my reply was too long and that your word-limit was 400. This proved to be untrue as many letters on your forum page exceeded that limit, namely, letters from Mdm Ho Ching, Ms Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself.

When I pointed this out to you, you then indicated that it was actually specific sentences you wanted deleted. This gave lie to your excuse that it was the length of my letter that you were concerned about. (See here)

A few weeks later I wrote another reply. At your insistence, I trimmed it down to less than 400 words. You were still not satisfied and wanted me to remove more paragraphs. When I asked what was it that you wanted me to remove, you came up with yet another excuse: That the SDP website had already published my letter and therefore you would not publish it. (See here)

It is clear that you have been trying to find an excuse to censor me and my replies all along. You have invented yet another one: That I have unfairly accused the newspaper of lacking integrity.

This is utterly shameful. But then again, in a one-party state, the media do not know what the word means.

In the public’s interest and transparency I will be publishing your email.

Chee Soon Juan

7 May 2010

Dear Dr Chee,

Your reply suggests that you will not be retracting your unfair aspersions on the integrity of our editing in the SDP articles cited in our previous email to you. Until then, you leave us no choice but to withhold your contributions to the Forum page.

Yours faithfully,

Yap Koon Hong
Forum Editor
The Straits Times