The Online Citizen

TOC rebuts ‘Kingmaker’ misquote in Zaobao

January 11
13:27 2011

On Jan 1 2011, Lianhe Zaobao published an article titled 反对党何必高谈团结?(translated “Is it time for opposition unity?”) by Yew Lun Tian .  In the article, Ms Yew wrote:

“网络公民”的一个负责人受访时,也不讳言他有意把这个网站打造成反对党政治的“造王者”。

他说:“我们的目的是让凡是想在反对党圈子发挥影响力的人,都免不了要透过我们的平台去与网民接触。” (translated: “A TOC spokesperson didn’t mince his words on the intention to turn TOC into the “kingmaker” of the Opposition. “It is our intention to promote TOC as the defacto online platform for the Opposition to engage netizens,” he said.”)

The following is our letter to Zaobao sent on 6 Jan 2011, in response to the statement in question-

Dear Editor,

We refer to your article, which was translated non-verbatim by New Asia Republic (Link: http://newasiarepublic.com/?p=22730). The article, written by one Ms Yew Lun Tian, claimed that “”A TOC spokesperson didn’t mince his words on the intention to turn TOC into the “kingmaker” of the Opposition. “It is our intention to promote TOC as the de facto online platform for the Opposition to engage netizens,” he said.””.

Zaobao journalist Yew Lun Tian

Following internal investigations, TOC has ascertained that the quote in question was part of an off-record social lunch that Ms Yew Lun Tian had with our former Chief Editor Mr Choo Zheng Xi. Mr Choo recalls that the meeting was strictly off-record, and at no time was speaking as a representative of TOC. Ms Yew did not at any time record any part of the conversation and at the outset of lunch told Mr Choo that he should “speak freely because we are meeting as friends”. In fact, at the end of the lunch, Ms Yew gave Mr Choo a belated birthday present.

The article further gives the impression that Mr Choo unequivocally asserted that it was the intention of TOC to be a “kingmaker” of the opposition. Mr Choo distinctly recalls that the suggestion of TOC being an opposition “kingmaker” emanated from a question by Ms Yew, as it was a phrase he was extremely uncomfortable with. He instead chose to qualify that what he hoped TOC would become was “the de facto online platform for all political parties to engage netizens” (emphasis added).

Regrettably, the veracity of this quote is not subject to verification due to the social context the conversation occurred within.

We appreciate that reporters regularly meet up with news sources in social contexts to cultivate a deeper understanding of their beats. TOC practices the same, and we have always been happy to befriend journalists in the mainstream media as well as keep an open door policy to being officially quoted.

However, when the confidentiality and informality guaranteed by a social meeting is taken advantage of and passed off in the public domain as a quote gathered through accepted journalistic channels, we believe that the line has been unethically crossed.

We would thus like to request an apology from your good self and the publication of this letter of clarification in your paper. In lieu of the latter, we reserve the right to publish our correspondence in full on our website.

With best regards,

Joshua Chiang

Chief Editor,

The Online Citizen

The letter appeared in a revised form in Zaobao this morning (11 Jan 2011).

Below is a translation of the published letter-

The Online Citizen becomes unintentional ‘Kingmaker’

We refer to your article, which was translated non-verbatim by New Asia Republic (Link:http://newasiarepublic.com/?p=22730). The article, written by one Ms Yew Lun Tian, claimed that “”A TOC spokesperson didn’t mince his words on the intention to turn TOC into the “kingmaker” of the Opposition. “It is our intention to promote TOC as the de facto online platform for the Opposition to engage netizens,” he said.””.

Following internal investigations, TOC has ascertained that the quote in question was part of an off-record social lunch that Ms Yew Lun Tian had with our former Chief Editor Mr Choo Zheng Xi. Mr Choo recalls that the meeting was strictly off-record, and at no time was speaking as a representative of TOC.

The article gives the impression that Mr Choo unequivocally asserted that it was the intention of TOC to be a “kingmaker” of the opposition. Mr Choo distinctly recalls that the suggestion of TOC being an opposition “kingmaker” emanated from a question by Ms Yew. He instead chose to qualify that what he hoped TOC would become was “the de facto online platform for all political parties to engage netizens” .

Regrettably, the veracity of this quote is not subject to verification due to the social context the conversation occurred within.

We appreciate that reporters regularly meet up with news sources in social contexts to cultivate a deeper understanding of their beats. TOC practices the same, and we have always been happy to befriend journalists in the mainstream media as well as keep an open door policy to being officially quoted. But we feel that off-the-record comments should remain confidential and not be published as a quote gathered through accepted journalistic channels.

We would thus like to request an apology from your good self and the publication of this letter of clarification in your paper.

Joshua Chiang

Chief Editor,

The Online Citizen


 

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