The Online Citizen

Lina Chiam: TOC's now the mainstream, because Singaporeans say so

January 14
11:36 2012

TOC thanks Mr Chiam See Tong and his wife Mrs Lina Chiam for gracing our event as Guests of Honor. The following is Mrs Lina Chiam’s speech at our Awards Night:

First of all, and on behalf of my husband Mr Chiam See Tong, I would like to thank TOC and its committee for allowing me to say a few words.

My first words shall be – “Thank God for New Media Today”!

I remember it was around 2006 when people started to get serious about this thing called “New Media”. I didn’t know much about it then. For all my 30 plus years of experience in politics through campaigning with Mr Chiam, we only had the traditional media. People often say that the SPH is a controlled mouthpiece of the government. I think many of you agree.

Political figures were not often depicted in very good light or sometimes the butt of jokes in political cartoons. In the early days of Mr Chiam’s political career, his forum letters were completely edited out of recognition, or never published. There was no other way for clarification when unfair commentary or errors made by the media.

I must share with you one notable incident with the now defunct New Nation Paper. It once published the following headline – “Chiam charged with illegal trespassing”, accompanied by a huge photograph of him, occupying almost the whole front page. The court had not even charged him then and the media jumped the gun. But Mr Chiam won the court case ultimately. Can you imagine the bad publicity he got before he won the court case? Mr Chiam is not the sort of person to take it lying down. He sued the paper for defamation. A settlement and an apology were agreed upon by both parties. New Nation went defunct after that. You can safely say that Mr Chiam bought down a newspaper!

Pictures of political rallies were not spared either. The pictures chosen by the newspapers showed very little support for the opposition. If one never attended the rallies, one would not have known the tremendous support the people had for Mr Chiam.

But we were never deterred or disheartened. We fought on, whatever that the traditional media. Now we see the results.

More importantly today, new media has made a difference and has somewhat taken over the position of power from traditional media like TV news and newspapers. This is quite stunning. It’s not just a Singaporean trend. It has happened to Malaysia through Malaysiakini. In the US, The Onion is another popular political satirical site that aims to bring political awareness to the common people.

What’s consistent in social media, blogs and journals is that these platforms have grown to be credible and powerful. Because we tend to believe certain online news sources over traditional newspapers. TOC is one of these sources. TOC played a significant role in the recent elections.

To me, TOC is a pioneer in the online news sector. As an NCMP for Singapore, I would like to thank the management of TOC – Ravi Philemon, Joshua Chiang, Siew Kum Hong, and Leong Sze Hian – for their extraordinary service rendered to Singaporeans. Thank you for your tenacity and commitment to drive the growth of TOC. Should the Opposition take power one day, I will definitely recommend the TOC management for the National Day awards such as the PBM!

Past editors also played an important part in the journey TOC took. Donaldson Tan and Andrew Loh were outstanding thought leaders who gave up a part of their lives for the success of TOC. Thank you Andrew and Donaldson!

I also would like to thank Andrea, a Potong Pasir resident for her heart-warming story published recently in TOC about Potong Pasir and Mr Chiam. And my thanks also, to the many volunteer who have contributed to TOC over the years without expecting a cent in return. I hope more Singaporeans will stand up and extend their hand of help to grow TOC, and to help budding journalists enhance transparency and accountability in Singapore.

Moving forward, I think it would be unjust to call TOC the “New Media”. This is the new normal. REACH should step side now. Entities like TOC will no longer be alternative voices or news sources. They are now the mainstream because Singaporeans say so.

Majulah Singapura!

  • leehsientow

    “Lina Chiam: TOC’s now the mainstream, because Singaporeans say so”:

    What can be clearer than this accurate headline. SINGAPOREANS SAY SO. The PAP is NOT Singapore. In fact, it has shown it has been acting against the interests of Singaporeans. We don’t need permission from this minority elitist group to do anything or to say anything.

  • Poper@SG

    Continue the good work, Lina Chiam!
    Keep voicing the balanced perspective, TOC! I’ve benefited greatly from your articles since GE2011.

    Finally, the power of social media has toppled the policitcally bias reporting of our traditional medias.

  • The year we SLAY the DRAGON

    We nees to SLAY it before it SLAYs us in year of the Dragon which is a Financial crisis year where many citizens gonna be pushed out of job by MNCs incapable of survival.

    Many will be replaced by foreigners .

    We should have election now to kick them out.
    The pro foreigner policies have remained even when salaries cut a bit.

    We dun owe foreigners a living. Why are they pampered?

  • Eugene

    The Papies policy of immigration has not changed. In Parliment Mr Khaw has asked the MOM for 30,000 additional construction workers.
    @the year we slay the Dragon
    The Papies will dodge it to 2016. By then enough immigrants would be Singaporeanised to keep it at 60% or to boost their worth maybe more than 60%.
    Now true blue Singaporeans BO-Pian.


    Messrs LiNA Chiam
    keep up the good work an potong pasir will be back to u in 2016

  • what change

    Bravo! Hip hip hooray!!! Well said Mrs Chiam. Thank you TOC especially to all the unseen people and contributors who toiled because of their passion and conviction that there must be transparency, fairness and justice and accountability in our nation.

  • HighPriest


    You must be joking. Potong pasir will not be around by then.

  • George Tan

    Dear Lina
    I am truly impressed by your speech. It is simple yet powerful in carrying forward the third voice of the people. The people must now make it a point to read TOC regularly, and not trust the govt controlled media.
    Please keep up the good work, and write regularly to TOC in your very simple but effective style. I am confident that come 2016 you will be fully elected as MP instead of just NCMP.
    Long live Mr and Mrs Chiam and long live SPP. Potong Pasir, if it still exists in 2016, will rightfully revert back to the opposition.

  • hehe

    Because of TOC, SPH has lost its profitablity. Now they kept offering gift and promotion to lure readers. How pathetic of them to insult the subsriber’s intelligence. Talking about new norm, SPH has a lot to catch up, same goes with Mediacorp.

  • Dreamer

    Somehow, I hve this feeling that the only way to “reclaim” is by “Forceful act ” !



  • lou Ja Boh

    Haha, from the mouth of someone entering parliament through backdoor? Guess she doesn’t have a backbone, you take her words and discount 95%. She can only endorse if the fish in the market is fresh enough for CNY Yee Sang. Happy CNY!

  • True Blue Singaporean

    Referring to her speech: “没有调查就没有发言权”,“不做正确的调查同样没有发言权”;“一切结论产生于调查情况的末尾,而不是在它的先头”

  • Chanel

    A big Thank You to Mr chiam for not giving up the uphill battle with PAP for nearly 3 decades. Also a big Thank You to Mrs Chiam for being a pillar f support to your husband all these years

  • Anson Be

    well Said, may you win back PP in 2016 and CST win Bishan TOa Payoh from WKS

  • RED-man

    This is a world wide phenomenon. No country trust their national paper anymore. It rob both the money and truth from the people.

  • gone Overboard

    The present style of governance is constantly squeezing the citizens bone dry and it has gone overboard, way too much.

    Unless the alternative parties unite, Change will not materialise. Daft sinkies will sink deeper into an unfathomed world of depression.

    So, bury the hatchet and stop all the bickering for the sake of Change which is long overdue.

    And Change we must!

  • Journalists’ “Oath’

    Journalists must and should always report the truth. Shame on those who can’t write the truth because of political pressures. No one reads the local papers as saying gospel truths anymore. Singaporeans will search for the truth when they are skeptical. It also does not mean that everything TOC writes is the truth. Singaporeans can have the truth with their eyes and ears on the ground. May the people of Singapore use your discretion to decide what is the truth. Much as we will not allow ourselves to believe everything we read in the papers, why should we also let our guard down when we read articles on the internet.

  • Lam Cheo Min

    There must be many kia si citizens now regretting they did not vote them out.

    If there were 5 – 10% more for opposition, the pro ft policies would have changed.

    We have been sabotaged by self interest.

  • Robert Teh

    Taiwan’s presidential election confirms one thing about democracy. It has to be fair and wholesome. Without respecting the people’s wish, the whole system will end up as legalised corruption and cronyism as witnessed by the SMRT’s fiasco and ministers working for their own personal gains at the expense of the people. No matter how successful or good is a party, the elections should be fair and free without any kind of coercion and pork-barrel buying of votes or importing of citizens being manipulated by GRC or propaganda machinery of the ruling party played by the SPH.

  • http://none GABRIEL

    Behind every good man is a good woman. Lina, you are one such woman. Keep on doing the good work. We shall overcome.


    lou Ja Boh14 January 2012
    Haha, from the mouth of someone entering parliament through backdoor? Guess she doesn’t have a backbone,
    you meant linda chiam didn’t fight her way thru in potong pasir? she just buy fish in potong pasir and get erected into parliament? what fish she buy salt fish perhaps…
    and BY THE WAY….
    leekingyou must hav fought a big battle in the GRC in tanjong pagar right?
    ow many seconds? 35 secs perhaps…..

  • Conscience

    If people will honestly and conscientiously take a close look at all the people in the opposition, they will see that they are all good people fighting for a good cause for the country and its citizens.

    All must ask themselves this question:- Are they bad people? How on earth can they be bad people when they are fighting to improve our society?

    On the other hand, will you consider people who are unashamedly self-serving and money-grabbing and with little or no concern for citizens as good people?

  • To concern

    You are absolutely correct. The whites are all tainted by greed and arrogance, clinging on to power at all costs, so much so that their hearts have turned black.

  • son of s

    Communication and information are so important to human awareness that it is the first thing repressive regimes stamp out whenever they become capable to do so. All the half dozen newspapers in Singapore were closed down about 20 years ago by the Singapore Government, leaving the Straits Times which is today under the control of the Government. Repressive regimes are absolutely correct to fear the free flow of information, feedback and feed-forward among their citizenry.The Egyptian uprising which encouraged the other Arab uprisings was started and coordinated by a young Google executive. Google is the foremost browser in the Internet and so the foremost broadcaster and dealer of information.

    TOC is certainly the alternative voice against the publications of the SPH which owns the Straits Times. TOC may be instrumental in easing the entry of the largest opposition numbers voted into Parliament in recent years. It may be the pressure of the voices in TOC which caused the Government to agree to review ministers’ salaries, review the flood of foreign workers and rain water into Singapore and declare a ‘new normal’ which ironically, even paradoxically is a phrase coined by journalists in Al Jazeera to celebrate the Arab Spring. Irony and paradox lies in the fact that this repressive regime in Singapore has the temerity to hijack a phrase minted in the red hot furnace of the struggle for human freedom and human rights in the Arab world.

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  • True Blue Singaporean

    It’s terribly depressing that all the good things the government has done are never mentioned or worthy mentioned. I see only criticisms and more cynical and paranoid criticisms posting with stereotyping sweeping statements. Worst of all, someone actually even praise Taiwan politics scene! Honestly, is Singapore election board corrupted? A sociologist told me only sad people tend to write more than happy people. Seems to me, this is applicable in this forum. I assume they have not really seen for them and know for themselves what welfare policies the govt has been doing and real suffering citizens have been benefited. I have personally come across a handful of locals coming to authorities demanding to meet their “needs” as if the world/govt owe to them. Do not deny that we do not behave unreasonably at times just because we have a few more years of education than others. It takes a million voices to form an impression thus, do reflect if one been unreasonable and unfair to our govt before we preach. If you cannot be fair, at least be reasonable.

    Lastly, “没有调查就没有发言权”,“不做正确的调查同样没有发言权”;“一切结论产生于调查情况的末尾,而不是在它的先头”

  • Weigh All Things

    Singaporeans are intellectuals. They know the right from wrong. Whatever we read here, Main Stream Media or Media control by the ruling party, Singaporeans should decipher n give their own judgement calls. We are living in a real world now where the Y generations questions n fights for their own rights. We have to discern n not take everything that are written in the medias. Many Singaporeans have their own opinions but do not let these opinions transform into hard facts. It is dangerous. Remember ‘weigh everything’.