The role of the media

August 31, 2015
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

The Newspaper and Printing Presses Act and the Broadcasting Act ensure that the PAP Government controls the dissemination of information in Singapore.

This has meant that news from the opposition are effectively curtailed. One important example is the dearth of information, and therefore discussion, about national issues critical to our country’s future.

The SDP has published a set of comprehensive policy papers including healthcare, housing, immigration, ministerial salaries and, most recently, education which are meant to provide Singaporeans an alternative.

And yet most Singaporeans are unaware of these policies and what they mean to our nation because of the censorship exercised by the media authorities.

Press reports regarding our proposals are sketchy. The Straits Times and Today newspapers did not cover our education paper despite the intense online interest of the subject. Our article Why do we do this to our children? garnered unprecedented widespread attention on the social media but is blacked out by the state media.

The newspapers have not facilitated any kind of discussion or debate on these policies nor solicited the views of the ministers.

The broadcast media is worse. It has simply blacked out any mention of the SDP and our policies.

In a functioning democracy, media outlets would invite opposition members to explain and debate the the proposals. Journalists would pose questions to government officials about these alternatives and assess their viability. This would culminate in televised debates before and during elections.

In Singapore…only silence.

This does not give an accurate picture of the competence and viability of the opposition. The PAP has often lamented that the opposition is not constructed and cannot produce ideas to challenge the existing system.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew said, “We will wait and see how constructive the opposition can be, or will be.” But when the SDP produces a set of alternative policies to take Singapore forward, the ruling party – instead of having a robust debate – chooses to censor the information.

We want to raise the level of politics in Singapore. Instead of relying on personality politics, the SDP wants to focus on what works for our country and what doesn’t.

Following his defeat at the elections, Mr George Yeo urged his party to change. Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, it is autocracy-as-usual as far as the PAP is concerned.