Mr Low Thia Khiang’s letter to Straits Times Forum

I refer to the Editorial titled “Fallout from the Hougang showdown” (ST, 29 May 2012, p A17).

I share the writer’s view that “anyone who claims to promote the idea of First World democracy should take care to uphold its institutions, including the media.”

At the by-election public rally on 24 May, I said that, “The media is a potentially powerful tool for or against certain political parties. Therefore, it is imperative that the media must become a reliable source of information for the people, independent from the strong influence of the government…We must not allow the media to be used by the government as a political tool.”

At the press conference on the night of 26 May, I reiterated that only with an independent media that presents fair and accurate information, could the people make an informed choice of their Member of Parliament.

In the recent campaign, I detected biased reporting, calculated to damage the Workers’ Party candidate and the Party itself. For example, the front page of The Straits Times on 23 May showed a large photo of Party chairman, Sylvia Lim, and myself talking to each other with grim faces at our rally, with the candidate in between, headlined: “WP faces allegations of dishonesty.” This was after the accusations had already been publicly clarified.

The writer is wrong to suggest that I am unhappy because there were adverse reports about WP. I welcome scrutiny of WP, but when images and headlines are manipulated to mislead readers, is it acceptable?

The media also reported unverified news and anonymous opinions. In Lianhe Zaobao yesterday, I cited the front-page report by MY PAPER on 24 May 2012, featuring an email interview with the “Secret Squirrel”, who claimed to be a WP member, attacking WP. I have asked MY PAPER whether they have established and verified the identity of “Secret Squirrel”.

Based on my 30 years’ experience in Singapore politics, I am well aware of the critical role media can play towards a First World democratic society. The recent reportage of the Hougang by-elections leaves me concerned. The media can become a stumbling block to the progress of democracy in Singapore and set us back by 20 years. Whether this is unfounded or not, I leave it to Singaporeans to judge.

Low Thia Khiang

From WP’s website: http://wp.sg/2012/06/mr-low-thia-khiangs-letter-to-straits-times-forum/

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