Archive for the 'media' Category

Zika erupts in Singapore: how we made it worse than it might otherwise have been


‘Cover up!’ screamed the immediate reaction I noticed on social media. The Health ministry had just announced that they have found 41 cases of Zika infection, barely 24 hours after they said that there was one confirmed case (on Saturday 27 August 2016). How can the number jump so fast without them knowing about these other cases earlier — was the implication behind the shouting headlines. They must be hiding facts from the public! Continue reading ‘Zika erupts in Singapore: how we made it worse than it might otherwise have been’

The sickening sound of sucking up

Close-up of a billboard in Bukit Batok

Close-up of a billboard in Bukit Batok

Sometimes timber houses can look very solid from the outside, but a sharp eye may spot signs of rot in the wood. The excessive adulation of Lee Kuan Yew, on the first anniversary of his death, may be a sign of decay in the state apparatus.

Throughout last week, when social media collectively vomited in disgust at what looked like state-organised worship, I tried to check myself. Maybe it’s only the people active on social media who are feeling disgusted, I suggested to myself. Maybe there are indeed huge numbers of Singaporeans who think it entirely appropriate to prostrate themselves, light joss-sticks, perhaps even ululate in the streets (if they knew how), to mark the anniversary. Continue reading ‘The sickening sound of sucking up’

Different because some people want us always to be the same

I have nothing new to say, because it is being said by — I am sure — thousands of people in Singapore. But I want to just add my voice to the chorus of boos.


Gaystarnews reported that  Jolin Tsai’s song We’re All Different, Yet The Same has been banned from the mainstream airwaves. “Singapore’s censorship board, the Media Development Authority, recently issued a document to all TV and radio stations banning the broadcast of the song, which it said promoted gay marriage and therefore contravened Singaporean law,” Gaystarnews wrote in its story dated 22 May 2015. Continue reading ‘Different because some people want us always to be the same’

In the real Singapore, MDA is the greater evil


The 3 May 2015 statement by the Media Development Authority (MDA) regarding the website (“TRS”) liberally uses words like “fabricated”, “false” and “deceiving readers” without providing any evidence what these instances were. It also accused the editors of “doctoring articles”. I’m not sure what this means. In fact, I am very concerned that any kind of editing could be cast as “doctoring” if the MDA so wishes.  Continue reading ‘In the real Singapore, MDA is the greater evil’

The reporters who wouldn’t let me ignore the Funeral

Enough time has passed since the Funeral for me to write about the whirlwind of media enquiries during that period. Virtually all the enquiries came from Western media, though a Hong Kong newspaper was an exception.

The initial thrust of questions posed to me was somewhat dismaying. Largely, they took this form: Now that Lee Kuan Yew is dead, what are the prospects of liberalisation in Singapore? It was dismaying because it revealed a tendency to see Singapore politics through just one personality. No doubt he was a dominant personality in the 1970s and 1980s, but he had gradually receded, and after the rebuff by Aljunied voters in the 2011 election – when despite his threats, they voted out the People’s Action Party candidates – he seemed to have gone into a sour sulk. Continue reading ‘The reporters who wouldn’t let me ignore the Funeral’

Oysters and diamonds


Income and wealth inequality has become an albatross around many governments’ necks  — Singapore’s included — provoking distrust and resistance to policies.

Meanwhile, readership of the Straits Times is falling. Media academics have pointed out that the Straits Times, in blindly following the direction set by the People’s Action Party government, does the government no favours. Sheepishly echoing government edicts alienates people.  Continue reading ‘Oysters and diamonds’

Haram to speak of ham


In a rare smackdown of a reader, the Straits Times dismissed a reader’s demand (link) that it tailor its editorial content to suit his sensibilities. The incident flashed across social media for a day or two, with approving comments, then disappeared.

This is what the reader, Idris, wrote:

I think it’s worthy to note that there are many Muslims who are readers of The Sunday Times. I was quite disturbed by the fact that the paper’s edition on Oct 5 which falls on Hari Raya Haji featured a distasteful article in the Sunday Life! section (“Cheat Sheet: Ham”). The Sunday Life! food critics could have been more sensitive to the events that unfolded for some Muslims on this religiously auspicious occasion such as the sacrifice of cows or sheep. They could have chosen a food-related theme and perhaps discussed lamb cuts. At the very least, avoid discussing non-halal food (food that Islam sanctions against consumption such as ham). Local journalists should practise more sensitivity and respect local cultures, at least for the most important races in Singapore.

Continue reading ‘Haram to speak of ham’

Don’t tell us what is true, let us judge by opening official records


Here we go again. Another film banned by the Singapore government. Tan Pin Pin’s “To Singapore, With Love” will not be allowed for public screening in this god-forsaken place. In a press statement released 10 September 2014, the Media Development Authority (MDA) said the film

… undermined(d) national security because legitimate actions of the security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are presented in a distorted way as acts that victimised innocent individuals.

— MDA, 10 Sept 2014. Link

I have not seen the film myself, unlike quite a number of people at film festivals abroad Continue reading ‘Don’t tell us what is true, let us judge by opening official records’

AGC versus me, the 2013 round

This is a diary of the case in which the Attorney-General’s Chambers accused me of “scandalising the judiciary”, to make it easier for friends to follow what’s going on. As with court cases, the technical details can sometimes be hard to grasp; I will try to make it digestible here. Since this has a diary format, from time to time, I will be adding to this, unlike other essays on this site which generally are finished by publication date.

Scroll down for the latest updates.

Continue reading ‘AGC versus me, the 2013 round’

From bus drivers’ strike to the Yahoo Licence Rules

A year ago on 26 November 2012, around 170 bus drivers for SMRT, a public transport company, refused to report for duty. This eventually led to new censorship rules restricting online news platforms hurriedly introduced in June 2013.

It was a friend (I am not sure if he wants to be named) who suggested this cause-effect relationship a little while back. The more I think about it, the more I think he is right. Continue reading ‘From bus drivers’ strike to the Yahoo Licence Rules’