The Straits Times

Singapore, Singapore

#1 Nov 13, 2012
CriticismThe Straits Times has sometimes been criticized as being the mouthpiece of the ruling party, the People's Action Party and lacks the freedom to criticize the government. The Newspaper and Printing Presses Act of 1974 requires all newspapers to be publicly listed into both ordinary and management shares, with management shares having 200 times the voting rights of ordinary shares and approval from the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts needed for any management share transfers. Past chairpersons of Singapore Press Holdings have been civil servants. SPH's former executive president Tjong Yik Min served as the head of the Internal Security Department from 1986 to 1993.

Former Minister George Yeo, when he held the portfolio of Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, stressed that the media was not to be a "fourth estate" in ruling the country; the role of the press was to aid "nation building", in view of Singapore's heterogeneous society and peculiar vulnerabilities as a small nation.

Cherian George, a former art editor of the paper, has once described press workings in Singapore in a convention conference in 1998 at the University of California, Berkeley:

In the Singapore model, the elected government is the expression of democracy, and it is protected from the press, which is unelected and therefore undemocratic.... "the 'freedom from the press' model does mean that newspapers must operate within much narrower perimeters than their counterparts in most parts of the world. It must accept its subordinate role in society...The tone of stories must be respectful towards the country's leaders. They can be critical, but they cannot ridicule or lampoon.

A United States diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks[4] quotes Chua Chin Hon, the Straits Times' U.S. bureau chief, saying that the paper's "editors have all been groomed as pro-government supporters and are careful to ensure that reporting of local events adheres closely to the official line", and that "the government exerts significant pressure on ST editors to ensure that published articles follow the government's line".[5]

June 4th, 2012: A retired SPH editor said "My experiences studying and working have sharpened my opinion of the Straits Times, and Singapore’s media in general. General editorial standards leave a lot to be desired". The newspaper was also accused of "obscuring truth" by the same retired editor.[6]

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