Category Archives: Singapore media

Singapore Media Meddling in Indian Elections?

Free Speech is Fine, But Suspicions Arise When It Appears Like a Prejudiced Pattern

China’s aim with any manoeuvring in the U.S. is to topple President Donald Trump, an allegation that is gaining ground amid an escalating trade war, there may be external forces seeking to help Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi retain power in 2019 when it is due for elections.

China is not alone as Russia has also been accused of meddling in U.S. elections.

I get the impression that The Straits Times of Singapore and some institutions in the country are trying to do just that by unleashing everything within their means to undermine the opposition and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in India.

Mocking Rahul Gandhi

In today’s edition of The Straits Times, an opinion piece describes Rahul Gandhi as the “son of a Roman Catholic mother and a father who was half Zoroastrian and half Hindu.” It was obviously designed to mock at Rahul visiting temples and portraying himself as a staunch Hindu and devotee of Lord Shiva.

The image makeover has clearly been driven by political compulsions as the Indian electorate is fixated on making India a Hindu theocracy akin to Islamic Pakistan.

Singapore also served as a platform for Modi fanatics to ridicule Rahul Gandhi at an event in Singapore in March this year, suggesting that the Congress leader’s family was behind some of the country’s problems.

ST interference in Indian politics

Rahul’s response to it was: “If anyone in this room thinks the Congress had no role in the country’s success – that getting freedom, green revolution, telecom revolution, rights-based laws and liberalisation are not part of that success, he must write a new book.”

Rewriting History with Fake News

Rewriting history with fake news is the agenda of the current Indian government. BJP’s president Amit Shah recently boasted that the party had the power to make any message, including fake news, go viral.

A few months ago another report in The Straits Times, Mr Modi Comes to the Shangri-La, advised him to “break from the U.S. to proclaim his faith in free and open trade, and for a closer economic partnership with the region.”

Religion is the only card that works in Indian politics – Modi rode to power in 2014 on the power of Hindutva aided by corruption that had seeped into the system during the Congress regime. The country did have reason to feel let down by the Government, particularly after the 2010 Commonwealth Games fiasco.

Corruption Intact, Majoritarianism the Trump Card

Four years after Modi assumed prime ministership, governmental corruption remains intact even as economic mismanagement has left India in a financial mess – rupee at an all-time, joblessness growing by the day, the adverse impact of demonetisation still being felt across all sectors, religion-based crimes at its ebb, no thanks to the ruling BJP’s politics of hate, and the country’s secular fabric has been damaged beyond repair.

Majoritarianism remains the trump card for Modi and the BJP.

With newspapers such as The Straits Times, Modi is getting help from beyond India’s shores which cannot be discounted as Singapore has a significant NRI population.

Singapore is generally very stern with the international media poking their nose into the country’s internal affairs. The local media should get the same treatment when they try to wade into the political scene of other countries. Free speech cannot be allowed to betray the writer’s political prejudices. If Modi’s divisive, communal agenda resonates well with some in the country, it can prove harmful for multi-cultural Singapore.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Population Debate in Singapore Reignited

Economic growth with a substandard quality of life is not a happy compromise

The Singapore mainstream media have consistently been happy taking a pro-Government line. With a well-run Singapore, which has seen the country scale phenomenal heights, there has largely been no need for the media to come down on the Government. I am not an advocate of unfettered freedom.

Objective reporting by newspapers, nonetheless, is something I welcome. I have not seen much along this path in The Straits Times. Even the letters they pick are non-controversial and generally pro-establishment.

Social Media Rumblings

It is only in the social media that we see rumblings of discontent over the Government’s excessive friendliness to foreigners, businesses and pure lucre at the expense of a high-quality life that Singaporeans enjoyed when the population was less than four million about two decades ago.

This morning’s edition of The Straits Times had a letter from a reader in its Forum page supporting the Singapore Government’s White Paper on Population. The White Paper had argued for boosting the country’s population to about seven million by 2030 by importing foreign talent, an exercise that has seen the country bring in international mediocrity as well.

If the anticipated population materialises, it will mean about 1.6 million people more in an already overcrowded and overpopulated Singapore.

Roadmap for Trimming Population is the Need

The population issue had caused a lot of angst among locals, justifiably so, as their wellbeing had been seriously compromised by the Government’s open-door policy.

Amid all the talk of a labour crunch, Singaporeans struggle to find jobs and find places in the local universities. A number of university places for important courses are being taken by foreigners, forcing Singaporeans to look overseas for education.

Economy Not Everything

The most important action the Government must take is to come up with a roadmap to trim the country’s population by about 20%. The economy is not everything when it comes to determining a country’s future. The wellbeing of its citizens and a high quality of life are more important.

In one of my earlier posts here, I had taken the position that Economic growth with a substandard quality of life is not a happy compromise. I have no reason to move away from that stand.

It is naive to imagine that the economy will take a hit if the population is trimmed. The revenues for the Government may fall as there will be less people and entities to collect taxes from.

But the people will be a happier lot with jobs and better education without having to contend with stifling density.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Media Overdose on Lee Kuan Yew

Hope Family, Government Do Not Fall for Sycophancy

Anything that is overdone will almost invariably result in it having the opposite effect. Two weeks have passed since Singapore lost its founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and I am beginning to get the feeling that the media here are getting swept away by excessive passion and melancholy.

lee-kuan-yew (1)The Straits Times and other local newspapers are continuing with an overdose of tributes for the late leader. I am hoping the family and the government are not ones to fall for a fawning practice, which is what the writers appear to be doing.

Today’s edition of The Straits Times had many pieces waxing lyrical about Mr Lee and I hardly found anything that has not been said in the last two weeks. Why persist with such rhapsodies that readers can find tiring?

Sycophancy is something that is alien to First-World countries but embraced in impoverished personality-centric democracies. Let Singapore not fall into that pit.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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