Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shanmugam : Low ranking for press freedom here absurd!

AsiaOne article : [Link]

Absurd indeed!

You would think that the best evidence that our press is free will come from the Singapore press itself. Reporters from the Straits Times outraged by the low ranking should stand up to say that they enjoy the full freedom to write what they think is right without having to fear for their careers or their articles being having edited. It is pure co-incidence that the editor of the Straits Times is the author of the most flattering book[Link] ever written about MM Lee. Singapore is ranked 144 out of 173 countries based on the Press Freedom Index compiled by the organization Reporters without Borders. Singapore is ranked below Ethiopia, Sudan, Kazahkstan, Venezuela, Guinea and Haiti. Understand that this ranking is for "press freedom" not for integrity, accuracy, or constructiveness. The press in Venezuela is actually quite free despite the Western media portrayal of President Chavez as a dictator, the majority of newspapers there are critical of him and he has no power to shut them down[Link].

"We do not accept that they can decide whether to publish our response,” he said, adding that if the press crossed the line from attacking its policies and making allegations of fact against someone then there would be a libel suit and the factual accusation must be proven.
“If allegation is proven, the plaintiff will lose the case and pay legal costs. Otherwise the accuser pays damages and legal costs,” he added.....He said the press were not used to this anywhere else in the world, and it would be no surprise they did not like it one bit.[Link]

I wonder what he is trying to explain here. Our press is free because it is justifiable to take them to court when they refuse to publish a reply from the govt? Anyway the Press Freedom Index ranking shows relative freedom, just because he thinks that govt move to sue the media is justifiable does not make our press more free because most of the 143 countries rank above Singapore don't have to worry about the govt suing the press.

This year, we have behaved better – so we moved up to Rank 133. Below Kenya (which saw riots following a disputed election), and Congo (which continues to struggle with the aftermath of an armed conflict that has claimed more than 5m lives), Venezuela, and so on. But we are ranked above North Korea and Eritrea. - Shanumgam[Link]

Is the minister saying we shouldn't rank below Congo and Kenya on press freedom because these countries are unstable? The ranking is for press freedom not social stability!

These are all countries which are trying to progress. My point is not that we are in any way inherently superior to them – the question is whether a truly objective assessment will give us such a ranking. Our approach has therefore to been to ignore the criticisms which make no sense – and we continue to do better. The people of Singapore also know better. Sixty-five per cent voted for the Government at the last General Elections. And the investors who put in billions every year know better as well. They do not have to come here. We do not have any natural resources. Our main selling point is that there will be good value added when they invest here, their investments will be protected, and that we are a stable democracy.

Yes, yes...Singapore is rich, attracts money from all over the world and the PAP govt gets 65% of the votes counted....and so on. But what has this got to do with Press Freedom Index? China attracts trillions in investmenst does that means its press is free? The last I remember it is still a communist country.

I'm really scratching my head to figure out what in his speech[Link] justified the remark that the Press Freedom Index is "absurd and divorced from reality".

Our approach on press reporting is simple: The press can criticize us, our policies. We do not seek to condemn that

Remeber this guy called Mr.Brown? He used to write a column for Today. He lost his column [Link]after he wrote this article "S'poreans are fedup with Progress!"[Link]. That is a good measure of the level of press freedom in Singapore. Mr. Brown had other talents and sources of income so he was perhaps less fearful when he wrote that article in Today. Imagine that you're a full time journalist whose family depend on your income, what kind of articles will you write?


Anonymous said...

Found this enlightening video on youtube:

Shanmugam is just shaming the angmohs, pretending to whine!

Anonymous said...

the comments from chief justice was also laughable - esp the last few para
- that the courts are not kangeroo
- that the law in suing opposition is law in itself - not lack of law.

That the current law is the baby of LKY

quite circular and makes for fascinating reading

Anonymous said...

I think that there are many other journalists and writers who are ostracized and black-listed, but they are not as prominent. These people just faded from the background. I remember a guy named Lee Han Shi or something like that. He usually writes on property issues and is quite critical on certain policies. I think he is also no longer writing.

As long as there are some *superior* people who say that your writing pollutes the mind or of a sub-standard that does not deserve to be published, people will continue to disappear from the *media*.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

So the ranking actually improved to 133? Why should he be so unhappy then; the press used to rank 154.

"If you read about Singapore in some American newspapers, you may not get the picture of prosperous modern city state, with strong adherence to the Rule of Law. Instead if you didn’t know Singapore and only read these journals, you may believe that we are a repressive, state that controls the people’s thoughts (as if that is possible in a modern, successful, wired and internationally connected city like Singapore), and that we unfairly target the press."

Actually, he's got a point there. Singaporeans now have a wide selection of news sources, both print and online.

If our press is not free, it will become irrelevant.

If our press only produce glowing reports of our government day after day after day, the people will become cynical and buy local newspapers to read advertisements and ignore everything else.

If eventually Singaporeans have to refer to foreign sources to find out what is really happening in Singapore, our press will be irrelevant.

By that time, it doesn't matter whether the ranking is 154 or 1; nobody is listening anyway.

Anonymous said...

Journalists must be well paid in order to attract talent.

As a measure of their talent and sense of public duty, some even became politicians, PAP that is.

Any journalist who join the opposition camp?

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows that we have no press freedom. The low ranking simply confirms that. I do not know why anyone will find this absurd. However a high ranking would have been absurd.

Anonymous said...

Just to correct. The name is Lee Han Shih.

Type his name and search. His articles are interesting and similar to Lucky's.

You can still find some of his articles. I remember reading his commentaries during my university days. His views are interesting. : )

Anonymous said...

But like Lucky said before, sometimes it is interesting to read the Straits Times and compare with other reports. You can discern certain issues are written quited biased to one side. Anyway, I wonder what will happen to Suu-Ann Chia. : )

LuckySingaporean said...

I used to read Lee Han Shih's article too!

Where did he go??...

Anonymous said...

Have u seen Mr Brown producing a truly critical podcast since he started writing for INSING?

Rubbing shoulders with a Mr George Yeo?

Mr Lee Han Shih is sharp. Has a conscience. Open to alternative views as well.
Helps that he is loaded, well connected and not beholden to any1.

Anonymous said...

I think he became a freelance writer. Saw several of his articles on

Anonymous said...

He is also the one who proposed in parliament, no need to go through panel to approve lawyers or something like that. The Law Minister can approve a lawyer into a bar. Same thing he said in parliament that the Prime Minister can appoint ministers or MPs or whatever without any selection process. I think, by the way, the Law Act that stipulates apppointment of lawyers can go through without the panel. The Law Minister has the power to do it.

He just has a different definition of freedom, that is all. And about the part about slandering and reporting with facts, anybody with half a mind will know how difficult to report with facts if secrets are supposed to be secrets.

Anonymous said...

I say if our current law minister still have some honor left inside him, he should have kept quiet.

Why bother arguing. Why lie to everyone when everyone already know the truth. It only make things worse.

One of the reasons why Singapore is stable is because we have no press freedom.

Anonymous said...

what is shanmugam complaining about?

wasn't his pap cadre zagy happy with the ranking, saying something that 133th showed that the newspapers continued to enjoy credibility among singaporeans?

very typical of pap - zi4 da2 zui3 ba1

mr. kangaroo said...

Instead of whining, Shanmugam should focus on how his govt can help the prostitutes in msm improve their ranking.

First, he should lobby his PAP govt to end their pimp-prostitute relationship with the msm.

Next, Shanmugam and his PAP MPs should stop letting themselves be treated like stooges or running dogs.
The same applies for the Chief Kangaroo Chan Sek Keong.

Eternal shame in history awaits all the PAP stooges.

Anonymous said...

the interesting thing is, they now are bothered enough to respond.

They didnt give any attention to it in the past.

Why? Because Singapore wants to be an international city...and rankings like lack of press freedom gives it bad press (!!).

Anonymous said...

I feel that now, whatever their explanations and justifications seem forced and unconvincing.

They should learn this chinese phrase....

yue(4) miao(2) yue (4) hei (1)

literally, the more u use black ink, the darker it gets....i.e. u can imagine the calligraphy or painting it will result...


Anonymous said...

If I had been the audience listening to him, I'll be very insulted. Who are you trying to kid? U think I kindergarten is it? Just bec you whine, I'll believe that the MSM deserve a better rating is it? Why dun you show some sincerity and get rid of all the intelligence officers masarading as journalists? Why dun you stop sueing publications which have a different opinion from you? Why you allow free press? Who dunno how to whine? And don't insult my intelligence by faking denial.

Anonymous said...

Mr Lee Han Shih's article can be found in following URL:

Anonymous said...

I truly agree with the Minister and these foreign medias have their evil agendas against us.

Singapore has a very free media that all of us should remind ourselves how LUCKY we are. We as well as the MSM are free to compliment, praise, exalt, extol, worship and idolise our leaders and their wondrous policies

Even though we have strict laws disallowing protest, the gahmen always give us leeway and forgive our wrongdoings when we gather like CASE to show our support, gratitude and love to our great leaders. Likewise, the gahmen though feels embarrassed by the everflowing praises from the MSM, they did not shut it down or sue them for all the wonderful news they reported. If they wanted to, the gahmen can sue them for inaccurate reporting and defamation for reporting on all the positive things that were not done by the gahmen.

Look @ all the news @ great Singapore sale, they were not censored and they were freely published in the paper as well as TV, radio and even websites.

I protest strongly against such unfair ranking. Singapore should be ranked as #1 for her tolerance towards the MSM, who has always too gone far in their praises toward the gahmen.

Anonymous said...

heh !!!??? So sue them in our local court of law ? Sure eat ?

Press freedom ranking and stability or development ranking are two different things.

Ranking only. Not happy, create our own ranking and put ourselves as no. 1.

Onlooker said...

"Shanmugam : Low ranking for press freedom here absurd!"

Because the PAPers are absurd.

Especially considering they are drawing Astronomical Salary :P

Anonymous said...

Journalist worldwide face the same moral dilemma. Most of them are loathe to write truthfully about people who can hurt their jobs or income.

Our 133rd reporters fear losing their jobs if they criticize the govt too much.

In the free countries, journalists don't dig up dirt on their main advertisers or key clients.

Journalists also don't splash the human right abuses and religious militancy of Arab oil-rich countries all over their newspapers, given that their key investors may be oil-rich sheiks, or that oil money may be a key shareholder in businesses that are key advertising clients.

You will see more journalists whacking their governments than going after companies who pollute the environment and refuses to pay up, or execs who continue to draw excessive pay or oil-rich countries who have wanton human rights abuses.

It's all about not biting the hands that feed you.

xl said...

Hi lucky,
Thanks to mr brown's article. Never read it. Hilarious. Is no wonder is stopped with the way the media is controlled.

Your style of writing previously also like that-hilarious & at times full of sacarcsm.

I notice TKL's advisory column also vanished around same time about reports of him running for president if can gather like 10,000 signatures. Wonder if is also suspended.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 28/10/09 20:15,

Finally Lucky Tan find a potential successor !

So you are Lucky what ? Surname please.

Anonymous said...

"I say if our current law minister still have some honor left inside him, he should have kept quiet.

Why bother arguing. Why lie to everyone when everyone already know the truth. It only make things worse."

Don't blame him lah. If you are him, you probably do the same when performance review and bonus is coming your way. Boot-licking will ensure that he will get maximized bonus and excellent performance review.

Even better, he could be promoted to senior senior minister too !

Anonymous said...

Actually I was wondering what the hell is the Law minister's business defending SG's poor media freedom when it should be that Rear Admirer media minister doing so.

greyfox said...

Anon 29/10/09 00:30,

Because he is a patriotic Singaporean who cannot stand others insulting the good name of Singapore. 133 out of 154 is something Singapore cannot accept. Also a hint that the next thing he will do is sue whoever is compiling the list.

Anonymous said...

One of those who official who call a deer as a horse, with a twist to who started that comment.....

greyfox said...

This is an example of a man out of touch with reality. I guess million-dollar salary has its side effects.

Anonymous said...

you want to know what the RULE OF LAW is and how pervasive this SPIRIT is in our society?

my post was deleted(because of dictatorial intolerance - same spirit as those who employ violence to kill(SILENT) others for opposing them) in blogpastor when i expressed an HONEST comment in one of his post.

you decide whether it was fair comment to his condemnation of his own religious kind

my comment below which was deleted of censored from public view:

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$The first principle is this: clear, biblical thinking must override secular planning and a corporate mentality. And the imperative? Think spiritually! However well-organized our churches become, we must give priority to biblical rather than to secular thinking. In the first-century church, there were no secular organizational structures or church politics. There was no guru of authority or “chairman” of anything. There were no power grabs from control freaks. There were no personal maneuverings, infightings, financial squabbles, or turf protection. Instead, it was a place where a spiritual emphasis took precedence over the world’s way of doing things.$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


1)tell me which man ruled church doesn't think "spiritually"?
2) church or secular organizations are all top down rule so politicking and tussle for powers and money are generally inevitable.
3) spiritual emphasis is merely a means to an end which be a god over the people( the SIN of nicolaitan)

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$For starters, our teaching needs to be biblically based and spiritually inclined. Our Sunday school classes, adult fellowships, and small-group instruction gatherings need to center on the teaching of the Bible and spiritual lessons. Our songs and our hymns should have spiritual content. Our counseling ministry needs to be derived from the Spirit’s revelation in the Scriptures. Our relationships with one another need to have spiritual priorities—intimate fellowship where people can trust one another. The church ought to be the one place where spiritual thinking overrides everything else—all those battles we fight within the marketplace. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the Head of the church. The church is a spiritual entity.$$$$$$$$$$$

redundant again.

tell me which church organization will admit to their church not being headed by jesus(proxy rule) or that they neglect to practice any of the above?

moral of the story?

one cannot sit on moses's seat and not grow a forked tongue.

ps: all rule of laws come from the same source - religion. you want to trace its abuses you have to go back to its HYPOCRITICAL SOURCE!

Anonymous said...

forgot to add the link below

Anonymous said...

should we respect anyone who has no respect for other's voices?

the OPPOSITION stance is clear.

NAY! and thus the love of many became COLD

Anonymous said...

this dictator boasted he has got 20 over years of spreading "love".

the only thing he has spread is...violence and hate.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I agree that the hypocrisy of PAP has permeated to all sections of society. E,g, HR hyporcrisy in rejecting good candidates and making excuses for rejecting them, bosses that promote you based on how well you suck up to them and not how well you do your job, it's everywhere. That is why sg is the least democratic of countries.

Anonymous said...

religious tolerance/harmony in this country? MY FOOT! there is only one view which allowed to be expressed here - GOD.

if you are not a rich and hyped up god, get out of my elitist face or i'll see you in court!

Xtrocious said...

LHS comes from an old rich family...

He doesn't have to depend on his journalist pay to support himself...

Maybe that's why his articles display a more cavalier attitude? hahah

But yes, I always enjoyed his biting comments and insights :)

Anonymous said...

If you wonder why SG ranks so low, look at this:

mint said...

Lucky Tan,

are u implying our government here does not allow us to speak up our mind?

BEWARE: You can be sued for defamation till u r bankrupt.

Anonymous said...

"are u implying our government here does not allow us to speak up our mind?"

Of course, our gov allow us to speak our minds, but whatever happen afterwards as a result of trending onOutOfBound markers are entirely at your peril.

If not, give

Anonymous said...

I am inclined to think that this Shan fellow must be very ambitious. May be he is aiming to become the next PM. If not why is he interfering in areas that are not of his direct responsibilities? He has been doing this recently in a few areas. It looks like he is getting too big for his shoes lately.

Btw, I heard his wife divorced him isn't it? What was the reason for his wife to divorce him? Can anyone throw some light, please?

Anonymous said...

How do you know when society or the people has been poisoned?

When they grow itching ears!

When you want only your ideas or your ideology and only yours to be heard and you will employ whatever mens or little power you have to ensure others will be ....killed.

A legacy said...

“The way to get ahead in the Communist Party is to please your leader, whether it was your village leader or your provincial leader or your central leader. The incentive structure of the party was such that it made sense for local leaders to lie and to over-report, to say that they've done all these MAGICAL things even when they haven't. And the results we know – labor was squandered, resources lost and starvation engendered purely as a result of the political activity of the Communist Party under Mao's leadership.”

“Why was there not a counter-revolution in 1961? I think there are a few reasons. First is what I like to call the lesson of the French Revolution: starving peasants don't rebel, they starve. It's the middle-class that rebels. But the Great leap Forward was such a disaster that people were busy just trying to survive.”

“Second, the Leninist party is very efficient at blocking out all competition. After ten years of rule, they have basically killed off all the competition, particularly the intellectuals in the Anti-Rightist Campaign. There was no organizational form for a counter-revolution.”

“Why didn't the Communist Party just get rid of Mao, blame him for the Great Leap Forward and put someone else in power? This has to do with ideology and legitimacy. Ideas matter more in a communist state than in a democracy. In the liberal democracies of North America and Europe, you may or may not like a government but you can say that it went through a legitimizing process. You don't have that process in a communist system, so it's the ideas that matter.”

“The Communist Party had so successfully attached themselves to Mao. He was the BRAND. They couldn't get rid of him especially when they had failed so obviously.”

“But I think the most important legacy of Mao is 'living Maoism,' the habits of thought and style of politics. Even when people don't mention Mao, you see the impact of the political world that he created. At the top, you still have to have a central leader who generates Thought. Look at Hu Jintao's he xie she hui or 'Harmonious society,' or before that, Jiang Zemin's san ge dai biao or 'The Three Represents.' That's a direct continuation of Mao's legacy.”

Anonymous said...

I refer to the Straits Times report dated 28 Oct 2009.

Mr Shanmugam was reported to have said that Singapore’s low ranking in press freedom is both absurd and divorced from reality. Is Mr Shanmugam man enough to allow International organisations to conduct a referendum or a survey to verify just how true his allegation is?

He questions how people can be unempowered in a modern, open economy. China is a good example. It’s economy is not only open but also one that is very rapidly modernising as well. Yet, the people of China remain firmly gripped by communism. So his question is really quite silly given the living example that clearly demonstrate that it is indeed possible.

Mr Shanmugam implies that it is not possible for a modern, successful, wired and internationally connected city like Singapore to be a repressive state where people’s thoughts are controlled. But thought control happens even in modern and prosperous Japan. Since the end of World War 2, generations of Japanese have been brought up to believe that the Nanking massacre never happened and that the Japanese were the victims rather than the aggressors of the war. So too in Singapore, students have been receiving an education slanted towards the vitures of the government. This mind setting process throughout their formative years hardens quite often into stone for the rest of their lives.

Furthermore, many old folks in Singapore are either uneducated or cannot read English. They are not connected to the Internet but are dependent instead on Chinese or malay or Indian news supplied by virtually state owned newspapers. So despite Singapore being wired internationally, there is a significant proportion of us who aren’t.

Mr Shanmugam states that the government demands the right of reply but that right of reply is not extended to the people. So in that sense, it is true that the media favours the government but not the man on the street.

Mr Shanmugan also says that critics of government policies should avoid personal attacks or that which is untrue. But it was precisely on the 11th Oct 2009 that Minister Mah Bow Tan personally attacked some Singaporeans over application claims. Furthermore, the allegations made by Minister Mah weren’t entirely true either. Is this how things work in Singapore? The govt has the right to make personal attacks and to say things which may only be half true while the people are refrained from doing so?

Mr Shanmugan brushes off Singapore’s low ranking by Reporters Without Borders by implying that since Singapore’s social order is much better than those of Guinea, Kenya, Congo or Venezuela, Singapore’s press freedom must necessarily be better. That is not necessarily true. The law and order in China is much better than Guinea, Kenya, Congo or Venezuela. Ye we all know that China is a communist state that imposes strict controls on the press and what it publishes. So Mr Shanmugam’s argument is simply nonsense. You can have very strict press controls with reasonably good law and order. In this case, the same agent that is enforcing strict law and order is also the one enforcing strict press controls.

So if Mr Shanmugam wishes to question the objectivity of the rankings, it needs to come up with more objective arguments than merely equating law and order with press control.

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Juanita said...

Anonymous 28/10/09 20:15, Finally Lucky Tan find a potential successor ! So you are Lucky what ? Surname please.

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