Fake news committee: Media is not bias, objective?

Piggy bank in the hands of the doctor.Piggy bank in the hands of the doctor.

Do these show conclusively that press freedom and freedom of expression are very important for the future of Singapore?

I refer to the article “ST Editor: We report news fairly and objectively without bias – but publishes poll to influence election results” (theonlinecitizen, Mar 24).

It states that “During a parliamentary select committee’s hearing on Deliberate Online Falsehoods yesterday (23 Mar), Editor-in-Chief of Straits Times (ST), Warren Fernandez, assured the committee that ST reports news fairly and objectively without bias.

“Over the last five, 10 years we’ve tried extremely hard to be fair, balanced and objective because we see our role as not trying to play up one party or the other, but to give our readers as much information as they can to make decisions for themselves,” he said.

“If we were biased, we would be clearly called out on social media. It would backfire and affect our credibility, so we wouldn’t be inclined to do that. I don’t think it does anybody any service if we tried to … it would be a disservice to our readers, a disservice to our journalists, and ultimately I think a disservice to Singapore.””

Here’s a compilation  of the news in the mainstream media over just seven days versus social media – to give us a sense of whether it is arguably bias or objective.

Starting pay for fresh uni grads hits new high” (Straits Times, Feb 27) vs “Graduates’ real starting pay increased $3.58 p.a. (0.13%) last decade?” (Feb 27)

“ST-SMU: Degrees versus skills –
Skills are something that activate your knowledge: Ong Ye Kung” (Straits Times, Feb 26) vs “Degrees vs Skills vs Foreigners?” (Feb 26)

Nine in 10 senior flat buyers opt for shorter leases for two-room Flexi flats: HDB” (Straits Times, Feb 25) vs “HDB: Short-lease data shows flats “not affordable”?” (Feb 25)

‘Severe implications’ if Singapore does not have sufficient reserves as buffer: Chan Chun Sing” (Channel NewsAsia, Feb 25) vs “Insufficient reserves: Severe implications for whom?” (Feb 25)

SMRT raises starting pay, improves benefits for staff following union talks” (Channel NewsAsia, Feb 24) vs “SMRT: Pay peanuts, get monkeys?” (Feb 24)

32,000 out of 405,000 HDB households in mortgage arrears of over three months” (theonlinecitizen, Feb 22) (Note: I don’t seem to be able to find this news in the mainstream media, although this Parliamentary reply is in the Ministry of National Development’s web site) vis-a-vis “HDB mortgage arrears in history?” (Feb 22)

““Freelancers may get help with payment disputes, insurance” (Straits Times, Feb 22) vs “Auto-deduct self-employed’s Medisave?” (Feb 22)

““GST decision made after all other options studies: Heng” (Straits Times, Feb 21) vs “Budget: Lower-income’s real pay up $2.80 a year, last 15 years?” (Feb 21)

I suppose our Press Freedom ranking is not at 151st for nothing!

Uniquely Singapore!

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.