Monday, October 3, 2011

A Comedy in Conspicuity

Perhaps the article Defining 'the Government' in the Straits Times of 3.10.11 written by the political reporter Janice Heng was seen as a comedy in conspicuity mainly to amuse rather than to convey any serious meaning. She may find that she shows naivety in expecting the discerning public to believe that the Straits Times and the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) controlling it are not the propaganda organ of the PAP Government. If she is a newbie and shows dreadful ignorance of the true camouflaged character of the Straits Times and the SPH, she may be forgiven. But is she?

It was a well-known fact that when Dr Tony Tan was chairman of the SPH, he was described by the public as the Government's spin doctor. It meant that he was the PAP Government's propaganda chief and the mainstream media (MSM) could only churn out pro-Government propaganda in their journals to the detriment of opposition politics. It was only during the hustings for the General Election this year and after that that some reasonable journalistic coverage has been given to the opposition parties. The Forum page in the StraitsTimes is meant for letters from the public written in praise of the Government. Writers of letters critical of the Government are usually turned down ostensibly because of lack of Forum space.

Ms Janice Heng shows remarkable naviety in saying that those who think The Straits Times is inextricably linked to the Government should try spending some time here as a political reporter. Does not this show that ST political reporters are blinkered and cannot see the wood for the trees?

The post of chairman of SPH has always been held by former ministers starting with the late former minister Lim Kim San. After the late Mr Lim Kim San, the baton was passed on to Dr Tony Tan, another former minister and deputy prime minister. Now the chairman SPH post is passed on to Dr Lee Boon Yang, another former minister. This is to ensure that the pro-PAP Government propaganda by the SPH-controlled MSM is perpetuated. So is not Ms Janice Heng myopic in her assertion that the Straits Times is not inextricably linked to the Government?

Do not all these revelations about PAP Government's tight control of the press through the SPH make Ms Janice Heng out to be either a naive and ignorant political reporter or a politically-motivated one to be writing such a frivolous article which could easily mislead dispassionate readers? Reporters Without Borders, an international non-governmental organisation that advocates freedom of the press, gave a very low ranking (137) on freedom of press in Singapore. Ms Janice Heng may not be aware of this low press freedom ranking and may be something for her to mull over if she contemplates to write about press freedom in Singapore.


jeffgoh said...

Perhaps it is a result of "living in a fish bowl"

I dread to imagine how Singapore will survive and compete, when your, and mine generations are gone.

Alan Wan said...

When she wrote that the govt is actually not the biggest shareholder of SPH, maybe she is telling the truth (those hard ones) afterall since they can't register the shares in the name of the govt anyway.

I reckon she will make a good spinner just like those Chua sisters.

LEONG said...

A drunkard would never say he's drunk.
Likewise, spin doctors like us to believe they are not pulling wool over our eyes

lorongm said...

How can the ST or any newspaper in Singapore not be biased, when not less than 1% of every newspaper company must comprise of "management shares" which can only be issued to such persons approved by the Minister (MICA). What is so special about "managment shares"? In the Newspapers and Printing Press Act, it is mandated that "The holder of management shares shall be entitled either on a poll or by a show of hands to 200 votes for each management share held by him upon any resolution relating to the appointment or dismissal of a director or any member of the staff of a newspaper company but shall in all other respects have the same voting rights as the holder of ordinary shares."

I think that if one checks who holds the "management shares" of SPH, it will be the GIC/Temasek/Minster of Finance Pte Ltd. And how much did the Govt pay for its management shares that confers such miraculous powers? Probably $1.00 per share!

rteo said...

The ST journalists are not naive but concerned of their rice bowl. They have to know which side of the bread to butter. Ask any ex journalist and he or she has a mouthful to tell the hard truth.