Today censors YD’s reply

August 15, 2001
Singapore Democrats

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On 7 August 2001, the MediaCorp newspaper Today published a letter by Mr Raymond Lee (see letter below). YD Vice-President Bryan Lim wrote back to answer some of the allegations that the writer had made. The reply (published on 13 August 2001, pg. 7) was, however, censored heavily by the newspaper to the extent that not only has the tone and spirit of the SDP’s reply been altered, but many of the points in rebuttal to Mr Raymond Lee’s accusations have been edited out.

The exchange of letters are reproduced below and readers can see for themselves how the local media works vis-?vis the Opposition.

Much confusion over Dr Chee’s position
(as published in Today, 7 August 2001, pg.6)

When a member of a political party belongs to two organisations at the same time, it may lead to some messy situations.

Now we have a Dr Chee Soon Juan book launch being given publicity on the new Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) website.

Is this an SDP event or an Open Singapore Centre (OSC) event or just a Dr Chee event?

The media release on the SDP website does not mention OSC but the information on the Think Centre website does (Open Singapore Centre Public Book Launch).

If it is an OSC event, should the SDP website be used in this manner?

Looking at the photos on the website- mainly of Dr Chee- shouldn’t the party be renamed the Chee Soon Juan party?

Was there a prior Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting to specifically permit the publicity of the book launch on the SDP website?

Whenever Dr Chee wanted to sidestep the CEC, he would say he was acting in his personal capacity.

Can you really do that when you are the leader of the party for what are essentially events that are connected to politics or the political process in some way?

Dr Chee never got prior CEC consent before his illegal talk at Raffles Place.

Yet, there is a photograph on the SDP website of him giving that illegal talk.

Is this not contrary to the SDP constitution which states that the party will uphold democratic priniciples?

Raymond Lee

The YD’s reply

(The print in bold are the parts edited out by Today.)

Raymond Lee seems to get upset over all the wrong things. Just because the Open Singapore Centre organised the launching of Dr Chee Soon Juan’s new book Your Future, My Faith, Our Freedom, does it mean that no one else can report or carry his speech? If that is the case, then the writer must direct his ire at the Straits Times whose report (SDP chief launches new book, and more, 7 Aug 2001) made no mention of the Open Singapore Centre (OSC).

The OSC is the publisher of Dr Chee’s book. This, however, does not preclude anyone from promoting the book or advertising it. The SDP’s decision to report Dr Chee’s speech on its website is precisely that- the SDP’s decision. If the writer is so pained by this, perhaps he should consider joining the SDP and make his voice heard from within the Party.

Here again, Raymond Lee seems to have misdirected his frustration. The Straits Times promotes Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s memoirs both in its print and the Internet versions- and quite aggressively, I might add. Perhaps the writer may wish to lecture the Singapore Press Holdings on this subject as well. Otherwise, he runs the danger of being seen to be engaging in SDP-bashing.

Raymond Lee is also all knotted up about how decisions are made within the SDP. Suffice it to say that the SDP’s decision-making process is firmly based on the principle of collective leadership where all CEC members have a vote on major decisions and policies of the Party. Dr Chee is not given veto powers nor powers to appoint officers within the Party. The SDP’s constitution does not guarantee him his position as the secretary-general; he is elected at Party elections, which must be held once every two years. This is in keeping with democratic principles which is at the heart of SDP’s beliefs and values.

Finally, if Raymond Lee is so concerned about politicians belonging to two organisations which could lead to “messy situations” he should first broach the matter with Mr Lim Boon Heng, PAP member, Minister-without-portfolio, and NTUC chief.

Bryan Lim
Vice-President
Young Democrats