|Thursday, 10 November 2011 (source)|
Not surprisingly perhaps, MediaCorps and the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) have conspicuously and completely blacked out any report on the recent award of the Prize for Freedom by the Liberal International (LI) to Dr Chee Soon Juan.
This stands in stark contrast to the Lincoln Medal award that Mr Lee Kuan Yew received a few weeks earlier which was reported extensively by Channel News Asia, Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao. (See here, here, here, here and here)
Media control and bias cannot be any more blatant.
Could it have been that the media did not know of the award to the SDP secretary-general? A week before the award ceremony, the SDP released a press statement. The media censored it.
Last week, they were invited to the award dinner as well as a press conference just before the dinner. Reminders were sent out.
Two reporters from the Straits Times and the Lianhe Zaobao showed up at the press conference and the dinner together with a photographer. But not a word appeared in the newspapers.
When asked why the Straits Times blacks out news on the SDP, a reporter said that the newspaper is not informed of the party's activities beforehand. Ms Yew Lun Tian of the Lianhe Zaobao even wrote in her Facebook earlier this year that the "SDP hardly sends press invites nor answers queries by mobile. It takes more effort to write SDP stories."
We refuted Ms Yew's statement by providing concrete examples of SDP publicising our events and even giving interviews when requested. (See report here)
The latest incident puts paid to the untruth that the SDP does not alert the media to our acivities. Press statements, dinner invitations and press conference notices were sent out for Dr Chee's award last week.
What is more truthful is that the people at SPH and MediaCorps made a deliberate decision to black out the news on Dr Chee's award.
This is significant in light of what Prime Minister said during the general elections in May this year: "Not all opposition parties are the same. Some work within our system and try to play a constructive role; others try to pull down the system and bring it into disrepute. And I think there’s a difference in the way they approach politics and the way we approach them.”
The Singapore Democrats are not concerned how the PAP approaches the various opposition parties. We present our alternative programme and take it to the people, whatever the PAP's approach might be.
But then the PAP resorts to using the media (which is run using public monies and should therefore report fairly and accurately) to black out information about the SDP so that Singaporeans won't know what goes on with our Party. The agenda is clear: The PAP, through the media, is desperately trying to shape the kind of opposition it wants in Parliament.
As SDP Chairman Jufrie Mahmood pointed out during his welcome remarks at the award dinner: "The powers-that-be are fully aware that if the SDP gets sufficient exposure in the mainstream media the people will get to know the real SDP and what it stands for. So they continue to blackout the SDP. They just do not have the guts to take on the SDP on a level playing field."
Related: When silence is not golden: a reflection on two Singaporean prize winners, by Vincent Wijeysingha (here)