PM visiting from Bizarro S’pore?

In Media, Political governance on 22/07/2015 at 4:32 am

Backgrounder from Wikipedia: The Bizarro World (also known as htraE, which is “Earth” spelled backwards) is a fictional planet appearing in American comic books published by DC comics. Introduced in the early 1960s, htraE is a cube-shaped planet, home to Bizarro and companions, all of whom were initially Bizarro versions of Superman, Lois Lane and their children and, later, other Bizarros including Batzarro, the World’s Worst Detective.

In popular culture “Bizarro World” has come to mean a situation or setting which is weirdly inverted or opposite to expectations.

I tot of Bizarro World when PM said ST must maintain its ‘hallmark of credible, balanced, objective reporting’.


Even more bizarre, he told the audience that surveys (from Institute of Policy Studies? North Korean, Vietnamese think tanks affiliated to IPS?) show that Singapore newspapers, including ST, enjoy high credibility and respect.

Err if ST etc enjoys high credibility and respect, why then does Reporters Without Borders give Singapore a ranking of 153 – a drop of 3 places from last year’s ranking of 150 – in the World Press Freedom Index? 153 out of 180 is the lowest ranking Singapore has ever got.

Coming back to ST: The very newspaper which he praised as a ‘hallmark of credible, balanced, objective reporting ‘ was the subject of a US State Department cable which became a WikiLeaks document.

The ST Bureau Chief in Washinton D.C., told a member of the American Embassy in Singapore that reporters were frustrated with the obstacles they face in reporting on sensitive domestic issues. They had to be careful in their coverage of local news, as Singapore’s leaders would likely come down hard on anyone who wrote negatively about the government or its leadership.

He disclosed that there was a growing disconnect between ST’s reporters and its editors, with the reporters wanting to do more investigative and critical stories than the editors would allow. He said that the ST editors had all been groomed to be pro-government supporters and were careful to ensure that reporting of local events adheres closely to the official line: none of the editors had the courage to publish any stories critical of the government.

He also said that the government exerted significant pressure on ST editors to ensure that published articles toe the government’s line. For example, ministers routinely call ST editors to ensure that media coverage of an issue comes out the way they want it. He said that no editors had been fired or otherwise punished for printing articles critical of the government because all of them have already been vetted to ensure their pro-government leanings. The ST Bureau Chief even conceded that he would likely never advance higher up the ladder at ST due to the ‘expectations’ placed on editors.

The cable also revealed that another ST reporter had confirmed the disconnect between editors and reporters. For example, following the death of opposition icon JB Jeyaretnam in September 2008, she highlighted an internal debate inside ST over the amount of coverage ST should dedicate to JBJ’s death.

While the editors agreed with the reporters’ demand for extensive coverage of JBJ’s political career and funeral, they rejected the reporters’ suggestions to restrict the amount of coverage to eulogies by government leaders. The said reporter lamented that in the end, statements by government leaders took up a significant portion of the allotted space on the pages in the way the editors had wanted.

She also confirmed that most censorship was done by the editors. She was discouraged with life as a Singapore journalist and wondered if she would stay in the profession for long. She lost her job.

But maybe PM was praising ST for reporting news reliably and objectively over the years because he was being a gracious guest, unlike one GCT*. After all he said these words of praise at the launch of an exhibition on Wednesday (15 Jul) to mark the Straits Times’ 170th birthday. His mum tot him manners.

Or maybe he was trying to tell tasteless jokes like Tharman and Hng Khiang:

Seriously Tharman will make a good PM Must be the Indian mafia at work


*I was at the 5th anniversary dinner of MediaCorp’s freesheet. Goh Chok Tong was the guest of honour and he sneered at the freesheet’s short history. I kid you not.




  1. American’s model of censorship and free speech and it’s critical approach to be taken with a big pinch of salt. Isn’t the US media increasingly controlled by the Murdochs ?

    Besides, they on the occasion have shown themselves to have hidden agendas for global hegemony. Read “confessions of an economic hitman” for some insights.

    I rather a media controlled by a bunch of system selected scholar types, then to allow a few rich men and their whimps to dictate my news intake.


    On ” growing disconnect between ST’s reporters and its editors “, seriously what disconnect !?! Look at the whimsical topics being covered these days, e.g. Xiaxue and gushcloud expose, the unhealthy obssession with Amos and his antics in the main paper ? really ?! the main paper ?!? Is this what you wish to fill our average unfiltered morning minds with, to occupy our lunchtime and bedtime chatter !? I don’t see disconnect, I see too much editorial latitude and silly journalism being allowed to occur.

    How would any intelligent progressive journalist try to fill the minds of the people with such news ?! Already most of us, wake up in the morning a little light headed and take in news unfiltered. And given how we have only 30 minutes on the train to uptake news in a disturbed manner, and the local papers chooses to celebrate the triumphant victory of a vengeful lady ( instead of discouraging all ladies from adopting similar entrapping and vengeful behaviour to Xiaxue )

    The papers have the ability to focus the minds of the masses, lets hope they learn to be proactive in their news selection instead of reacting to the whimps of the masses via a biased sample.

    For example, I will enjoy coverage of middle age Singaporeans who successfully learn a new foreign language to a professional standard, attaining a new globally competitive skillset. Or middle aged people who prepare in advance for old age illnesses by changing their diet, and exercising in a manner that is sustainable.

    Or for that matter that DBSS Pasir Ris One with their 1.2m corridor, they should do a detailed coverage on that 1MDB style, to look behind the developers SingHaiyi, who inherited the problem from SingXpress of Xpress Group fame, an entity influenced by a multi millionaire, possibly billionaire Mr Chan Heng Fai. Who brought with him his brand of HK style mickey mouse entreprenuership, to build HK style apartments that eke out a bad profit by gaming the regulations.

    Seriously, regulations were there long time even when Capitaland, Keppel, City Developments were building… and nothing wrong, decent social progress. Then these newly minted HK / China developers come in and built apartments, with their bay windows, aircon ledges, void space optimisations that encourage people to grow smaller, have inferior offspring , become physically and culturally inferior and become second generation economic slaves, extinct by the 4th.

    An enlightened paper should question the system, where these developers are legally correct, but the violated the spirit of the land, and even I dare say encourage natural justice, social justice for these new owners of these lousily built DBSS flats so these socially errant developers are banned from making a profit from the public hands for the next 20 years.

    Politics are important, but please la, we have 4m people. Public policy matters and society progression so much more than political egos.

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