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ST undermines its credibility… again

by Joshua Chiang

Cheo Ming Shen (source- bbc.co.uk)

In the Sunday Times' article (‘Young S’poreans keen to hear MM Lee’s views’; Jan 16), it was reported that 27 year-old young entrepreneur, Cheo Ming Shen, paid $10,000 for MM Lee’s book, ‘Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going’ during a pre-launch on 14 Jan.

He was quoted as saying that the Minister Mentor was "the equivalent of Nelson Mandela in Singapore."

Within a day after the report was out, it was revealed by netizens that Cheo was in fact the YPAP Chairman of Toa Payoh East, and serves under MP Josephine Teo.

Cheo quickly responded to the negative online criticisms.

"The fact that I am the Young PAP Chairperson for Toa Payoh East is public and openly declared by me. As you have pointed out. The ST reporter did not ask me “Are you a member of the young pap?” and i see no reason why he should have," he wrote.

To be fair, Cheo has the right to his point of view and political affiliations. He also has a right not to disclose his membership to the YPAP when interviewed by the ST reporter.

To be fair as well, his political affiliation should not prevent him from speaking publicly of his adulation for the Minister Mentor.

The issue is the perceived bias of the Straits Times in not revealing the facts of Cheo's membership in the YPAP, and hence creating the impression that the average non-PAP affiliated young Singaporean is enamoured of the Minister Mentor.

This isn't the first time the Straits Times was accused of deliberately not revealing the political membership of a newsmaker. A month ago, it ran a report of 'sales manager' Soo Ee Hock being jailed for taking 200 upskirt photos. What it didn't mention was that Soo was also a YPAP member and chairman of Punggol Park Community Club Management Committee. Three days after his political membership was revealed by netizens, the Straits Times reported that he had been removed from his posts and stripped of his National Day medal.

Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica), Mr Lui Tuck Yew once declared that the mainstream media "is accurate, timely and balanced in their reporting.”

In these two instances, whether Cheo's or Soo's membership with the YPAP were known to the editors and were deliberately omitted, or were genuine cases of the reporters not knowing any better, readers cannot be faulted for taking the minister's claims with a huge pinch of salt.

Perhaps in future, reporters should do a background check on newsmakers who are full of praise for members of the ruling party.

It is after all, a matter of the Straits Times credibility. After all, it was only just six months ago that the newspaper was praised as being a "local hero". ("ST no slouch in covering social issues" Jun 8, 2010)

(The writer did a background check on the person who called ST a 'local hero' and found no evidence of his membership with YPAP. ST does has its fans)