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)
“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!
Leong Sze Hian