Sunday, 20 January 2013

The By-election: Han’s ignorance, MSM reporting, and PAP’s problem

“Watch out for the mainstream media and check on their reports on Punggol East by-election.” This is the message Low Thia Kiang, WP secretary-general, wants Punggol East voters to pay special attention to.  

And this has to do with ignorance, reporting and problem of the PAP.

Han’s ignorance

Here, I am talking about Han Fook Kwang’s “The dirty truth about Singapore” (Sunday Times 30 Dec 2012).  Many see this as a wake-up call for the PAP and Singapore. I see this as a well-covered ignorance in both real innocence and intended or pretended act. 

The article talked about his experience in Taiwan and his positive comments about Taiwan.

Taipei or Taiwan as a large picture is not an unfamiliar name to us.  And a former editor of the Straits Times said:
<Truth is I didn't know very much about Taiwan, not having visited for more than 20 years - I was last there on a brief news assignment.  >
Taiwan is one of the Asian dragons like us. Our editor from a government controlled mainstream newspaper said he knew little about Taiwan.  Then how about ordinary people, how do we expect Singaporeans to have a clearer and fuller picture of Taiwan?  

Singapore achieves high economic growth, so do Taiwan.  Economic development is vital to Singapore and we fail to understand economic developments of others.  This is a serious ignorance that shows even our journalists are not aware of happenings in other countries – even our competitors.   

If this is true, well informed people, like the Straits Times editor, don’t know or don’t care about events happening in other countries, Singapore will be in great trouble.  We know we can no longer base our future growth on low cost factors and yet we refuse to know the real development outside Singapore.

This is a frightening ignorance of MSM or a pretended one.

For Han, it is even more frightening to learn that he does read and watch Taiwan news. But he still does not know the real happenings there until his visit there recently. This is what he said in his article:
<Much of what I knew came from reading the papers and watching the news on television, and it was mostly negative - the unruly politics, fist fights in Parliament, and headline-grabbing melodramatic elections (remember the mysterious shooting of then President Chen Shui-bian a day before the 2004 presidential election?). >
Does he read only the government approved newspapers and news channels? I don’t know is it related to the failure of our bilingualism or not?  Most likely, people in the top only read news sources on Taiwan in one language – English. So, there is an excuse for being ignorance.

Intended or pretended ignorance

Perhaps, there is an agenda behind it.  There is a policy to cover news that the government wants it to be.  The intended negative impression of Taiwan reported in our MSM is to mislead Singaporeans.  So, the MSM has to pretend and avoid the positive side of Taiwan story.

This selective reporting is not uncommon. Here is an example:

A poll is just a small survey after all 
<Responding to this, Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez said the paper would co-operate with any police investigation into the report. He said: "Our reporters spoke with residents in Punggol East to get their comments and a sense of the ground for our election reports. This was not a full-scale survey, or scientific poll, by any means."The headline for our story overstated the significance of the information gathered by calling it a poll. We are sorry for this lapse.">

When police wants to investigate the case, the Straits Times then pretends its ignorance.  This pretended innocence and intended reporting have been practiced in the MSM for so many years!   Now, the Straits Times called it a “lapse”.   It is a lapse of pretended and intended ignorance.  

Ignorance cannot cover PAP’s problem

When people have more sources to read the news, the MSM ignorance will be exposed.  The reporting of AIM in the MSM is one example. If the MSM has done a job on fair reporting on AIM then there will be less comment in the social media and perhaps, PM Lee can avoid calling a review of town council management.

When we read the ‘no sympathy votes’ from PAP candidate, Dr Koh Poh Koon before nomination day, we think he is a hero. However, he has since stopped saying this anymore. When you compare his behavior before and after nomination day, you may assess his ignorance is a real or an intended/pretended one. 

Now, the MSM projects Dr Koh is running the by-election campaign as a one-man show. He continues to walk the ground alone as he had done in the days before.  It seems to suggest he has done his campaign alone longer since he was nominated by the PAP.

Of course, sometimes, we also receive some funny ignorance:

Heng Swee Keat: Vote PAP to make WP work harder
By-election campaigning has been conducted with dignity: Ng Eng Hen
 PAP man prefers to run his own show

You will see more intended and pretend ignorant reporting when you read the MSM the next time.

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