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Dear Dr Chee,
Mr Goh Chok Tong, Senior Minister and former Prime Minister of Singapore, has stated in no uncertain terms that what the public will now read in Singapore will be news vetted for suitability by the Government. Mr Goh has made it very clear that Singapore will not have a free press and he will make sure that the press only reports what he feels will advance the cause of prosperity.
If the news is detrimental to the cause of economic prosperity in that country, the Governmen will censor it. Although in the past, one could have been in doubt whether you read news or propaganda in Singapore, now it is certain. The Singapore Government will control what you read and what you do not read. The new era of the Orwellian “doublespeak” is now the reality in Singapore.
In the Reuters article (Nov 01, 2005) headlined Singapore not ashamed of low rank for press freedom which refers to the low 140th spot in press freedom for Singapore by the RSF, Mr Goh states that press freedom will only be allowed when he feels that it is in the “national interests”.
A free press is guaranteed under the Constitution of Singapore. It is a right of the people to have accurate and truthful news. Accuracy and truth in news reporting is essential for a free market economy to succeed and prosper. Mr Goh makes it clear that his only concern is the prosperity of the country. And to that end he will tailor the news to achieve that end.
All this means that people will no longer have confidence in what they read in the media, as the news may or may not be true, since the only requirement for news reporting is economic prosperity and advancement. Singaporeans will now live in a country where propaganda is what is reported, and no longer the truth. Will there be a new Ministry of Propaganda in Singapore which is to assume this responsibility of deciding what the people should know and not know?
This propaganda which will henceforth be put out will make foreigners and international business doubt what is being reported in the press. They may take it as propaganda, since Mr Goh has said that what is put out in the news will depend on whether it is good for the country.
The people have a right to a free press. It is not for Mr Goh to decide whether the people should have that right. I say now is the time for civil disobedience to demand that Mr Goh give Singaporeans that right that belongs to them. A free and independent press without government interference. Singaporeans demand news. Not propaganda.
All this is really frightening for the average Singaporean. If you feel, as you must, that this is intolerable, now is the time for civil disobedience, for mass protests, to say no to Mr Goh Chok Tong.