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The Straits Times imposed a news blackout of the Singapore Democrats’ recent May Day message and activities.
While the various news wires had reported on the Walk for Workers that Dr Chee Soon Juan, Ms Chee Siok Chin and other activists conducted, none of the reporters from the local newspapers showed up or dared to run a story on the event.
Even the International Herald Tribune and Australian Broadcasting Corporation found the event newsworthy. Reuters, Agence French Presse, and Associated Press ran reports that were published in newspapers in other countries.
But in Singapore, silence.
To be sure, none of this is surprising. It is merely another indication of the insecurity and fear of the PAP Government. The ruling party knows that the only way it can continue to maintain its supremacy is to control what the people read and hear.
As a result, most Singaporeans know very little about what the SDP is doing. If one read only reports by the local press, the Singapore Democrats have not done or said anything about the workers’ plight this labour day.
The PAP is acutely aware that given a free flow of information where the SDP’s viewpoints and initiatives are openly published, the walls of the PAP propaganda will collapse like a house of cards.
Even the other opposition parties get some coverage. In its May Day write up published a couple of days ago, the Straits Times reported only the Workers’ Party’s and National Solidarity Party’s labour day messages while blacking out the SDP’s.
This is not the first time that such selective reporting on opposition parties has been carried out. During the general elections in May 2006, similar targeting of the SDP took place where the party was singled out for particularly vicious attacks and highly dubious reporting by the PAP-controlled media.
This matter was raised by Dr Chee Soon Juan in his speech at the National University of Singapore Society’s post-election forum.
The local media’s agenda has been made quite apparent.
Is the SDP deterred? Not one bit. The tactic merely confirms our view that the PAP is fearful of the kind of message that the Democrats are putting out: That it is the Government that needs to listen to the people, not the other way around, and that the only way to achieve this is to actively and continually campaign for the people’s right to free speech and assembly.
Only then can the people of Singapore be empowered and only then can we stop the PAP from running the country like a fiefdom.
So the Straits Times and its colleagues can continue to do what it does. They should realise, however, that you can’t fool everyone all of the time, especially not in the age of the Internet.
It takes decades for the state to build up a wall of deception and distraction, but only a few weeks to tear it down.
When the inevitable happens everyone involved, including the journalists who are presently propping up the system, will have much to account for.