The Straits Times on Modi Campaign Trail??

Report Hails Lee Kuan Yew, Derides Nehru and Gandhi

Is it Planning an Indian Edition?

I am sure The Straits Times is not stupid enough to make a bold foray into India at a time when traditional media are rapidly losing their relevance and influence.

As The Times of India is already fulfilling its role as a pro-establishment rag, The Straits Times will be left behind if it ventures forth nurturing such a folly.

It had in the recent past launched its Myanmar and Brunei editions. It publishes a few of its Singapore magazines overseas. If my memory serves me right, the Singapore Press Holdings group, publishers of The Straits Times, had started a business daily in Thailand as well.

Perhaps its plan is to lift the image of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Singapore with pieces that can boost the profile of the racist leader. He is after all adept at marketing himself.

Flak at Home over Demonetisation

I have been seeing a steady stream of reports in The Straits Times going soft on Modi. Hence the suspicion if it is eyeing an Indian venture.

Modi has been drawing flak from the country’s English media and the world’s top economists for its ill-conceived demonetisation move which has seen people die standing in queues trying to withdraw their own money, not to collect handouts from the Government.

The 100 or more needless deaths have not happened in Singapore, so why will The Straits Times care about it?

Nehru “delighted in Western ideals”

Modi can draw some cheer from The Straits Times, which carried a report today hailing demonetisation – http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/rupee-ban-could-unleash-indias-economic-potential.

Interestingly, the report appeared to scoff at India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi while subtly seeing merit in the leadership of Singapore’s founding PM Lee Kuan Yew who realised “startling economic success” fusing Western and local ideals. 

Indeed, Singapore owes its success to late Lee. Comparing him with Nehru and Gandhi, however, is out of place.

Subtle Dig at Modi but ST Misinterprets Chinese Media Report

The report also claimed the Chinese media had shown appreciation of Modi’s move. That only betrays a complete misreading of the report in China’s Global Times which was actually taking a subtle dig at demonetisation. A hint inherent in it was that China can learn from India’s mistakes.

It called it a bold and decisive step but was clear it cannot help tackle corruption. Importantly, the report argued what is key is reforming the system for which it urged India to look at China’s initiatives to curb corruption.

The drive against corruption launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping has so far resulted in the arrests of more than a million officials, it pointed out.


But then the writer’s intent was only to show selective mischief in feeding misinformation to readers not aware of ground realities.

It was amusing to find Nehru being described as someone who “delighted in Western ideals.” Nehru was born in affluence, leading an aristocratic life, but spent 14 years in jail during India’s freedom struggle.

A Cambridge-educated barrister he fought the British and often found himself jailed by the British during the freedom movement. As India’s first PM, he drew inspiration from Western thinkers with a leaning towards socialism.

Juvenile Writing

There is little doubt that The Straits Times will not entertain such juvenile, even colloquial, descriptions for Lee Kuan Yew or for Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. So, why such loose language for foreign leaders? Simply puerile writing that may be fit for the social media, not for a serious newspaper!

But then the mission of Modi and his Hindutva brigade is to paint the Nehru family as independent India’s biggest villains so the history books can be rewritten to proclaim the man who presided over the 2002 Gujarat mayhem as the country’s saviour.

Some Indians overseas behave like plants pursuing that vicious path, aided by newspapers such as The Straits Times with mediocre writing.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Filed under Demonetisation, Media, The Straits Times

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