Since when has it been acknowledged that The Straits Times is a neutral paper which is conscientiously objective in its reporting on the opposition, especially during the hustings. The paper is strictly under the control of the Singapore Press Holdings whose chairman is a former minister of the Government, a spin doctor anyway one looks at it.So how can one run away from the impression that the mainstream media (MSM) is an all embracing propaganda organ of the PAP Government, of which The Straits Times is a prominent member. The paper is so accommodating that any letter to its forum page critical of the Government politically is unceremonously consigned to the trash can.
In its editorial under the guise of "Opinion" entitled "Fallout from the Hougang showdown" today (29 May) the Straits Times attempts to wriggle out of the Workers' Party (WP) secretary-general Low Thia Khiang's charges that the mainstream media was used as a "political tool" by the ruling People's Action Party. It tries to dismiss them as unwarranted and unfounded designed for political effect. Can the Straits Times honestly say that it had not slanted its reporting on the Hougang hustings to portray the WP in an unfavourable light? Mr Low had taken the trouble to show the slanting of certain reports both in the Straits Times and the Lianhe Zaobao to belittle the WP. Photographs were juxtaposed in such a way to show the WP in a comical situation.
There is no doubt that the PAP campaign in the Hougang by-election was aided and abetted by the mainstream media, especially the Straits Times, the PAP Government's propaganda organ, despite its vehement disavowal. But it did not reckon with the indomitable spirits of Hougang voters who were not only not swayed by the MSM onslaught but were steadfast in their loyalty to the Workers' Party.
There is a lesson to be learnt by the MSM from their questionable reporting of the Hougang hustings. They may owe allegiance to their political masters but the wheels of history only move forward and Singaporeans are getting more discerning in their political surroundings. So the MSM should be more circumspect when dishing out PAP propaganda to the public. Since the disappointing performance of the PAP in the last General Election in May 2011, PAP leaders have introduced a "new normal" in Singapore politics. But the Hougang by-election fiasco has shown that the PAP performance since the GE in May 2011 has not met the expectations of the electorate. PM Lee Hsien Loong may argue that Hougang may not be an ideal comparison. But he may not have reckoned with the indomitable Hougang spirits which could be like a small spark lighting up a prairie fire. While the PAP may try to do its darnedest to stop this political tsunami from inundating them, the opposition on the other hand will not remain idle in matching the might of the PAP. The prognosis is that a few more GRCs may fall into the hands of the opposition in the GE in 2016.