Kenneth Jeyaretnam: Response to MSM reports on Singapore's US$4b loan to IMF

~ by Kenneth Jeyaretnam ~

Firstly, contrary to the impression conveyed by the Today Online report (7 July 2012), I took this action in my personal capacity as an ordinary Singapore citizen rather than as Secretary General of the Reform Party.

Secondly, I strenuously object to the above Today report which states that:

"Over the past few weeks, Mr Jeyaretnam has been arguing on his blog…"


And also to the Channel News Asia report (7 July 2012) which states:

"This is the central bank's response to queries raised by the TODAY newspaper following a series of blog postings by Reform Party's Secretary-General Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam."

I absolutely refute the impression given that this matter has only been raised on my personal blog.

In February the Reform Party put out an official press release in response to Budget 2012 which was distributed to all the press. Although the Reform Party is small and new we fielded 11 candidates in our first election with only two years preparation. The Budget release queried the non-transparent way the Budget was presented to Parliament and that it presented a misleading and incomplete picture of the government’s finances. In particular it did not follow the IMF protocols as set out in the GFS 2001 framework.  

There is blanket censorship on my and our parties’ contributions or events unless they can be spun negatively and our Budget response was neither mentioned nor referred to. It is not in the best interests of the people to be denied our views. This is particularly so when dealing with the Budget as they are written by a qualified economist.

After distributing our press releases to the press they are put on our official party website. This is not a blog and under our repressive regime requires us to register formally with MDA. 

After seeing news of our loan commitment on foreign news sites I wrote in my capacity as SG of the RP to the Finance Minister and the President on letter headed paper. These were official party letters.

They were all ignored.

I then wrote to the IMF on 28th June and I quote as follows:

Even if our government intends to hide behind some loophole, the loan commitments involve the potential use of our reserves or government savings that come from taxes on the people of Singapore. In a robust democracy a government does not hide behind technicalities and dispense with the need to make itself accountable to the people for the use of their money.

None of this correspondence had any connection to any blog in any aspect except for the fact that they were only printed and debated in cyber space because of the government’s control and censorship of the Main Stream Media.

I do have a blog, where I write in my personal capacity as an economist. It is not a political blog. It makes no attempt to persuade people to vote or not vote, it is viewed and copied all across the world for what it is – an exploration of economic themes.

Our MSM management are of course not independent since they are appointed by the government under Sections 9 and 10 of the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act. Not only does this deny our citizens alternative views but it gives the government free reign to conduct a smear campaign. We have witnessed the use of the latter over the decades directed at whichever individual the government perceived as a threat.

I have experienced this at first hand. I wrote a letter to the WSJ which was entirely factual and I stand by every word. MICA rushed out a hasty and sloppy response using state resources. They even misspelt my name. Our MSM then blanketed all the media with coverage of the erroneous response saying I had been rebuked.

Not one journalist asked me for my opinion. I was denied the right of reply. 

In this instance I note the MSM have again used the word 'rebuke'. 'Rebuke' means to express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behaviour or actions.

And some synonyms are: reprove, reprimand, reprehend, scold, upbraid and chide

You cannot scold a court claim. You can only rebuke a person. So the opening sentence 'The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) yesterday rebuked claims…' in Today's report makes a mockery of our nation suggesting that our editors (appointed by the government) have a poor grasp of English. This is sloppy, just like the MICA response to my WSJ letter. They have clearly confused 'rebuke” with 'rebut' or 'refute'.

Of course they cannot rebuke me. There are questions which need resolving and I have taken the course of action that I feel is best. As has been demonstrated the government ministries concerned failed to respond over a period of months aided by media censorship.

The President merely referred me to MAS. After filing in the High Court on Friday at 3.30pm, I received an email from MAS at 8.07pm. This was not a response, just a message directing me to the MAS website. There, I found a post which had been put up, obviously in haste, in a different font.

It is a sad indictment that it took a High Court filing for information to be released to the public domain for the benefit of our citizens I therefore say that the MOF and the President should be rebuked for unnecessary opacity and obfuscation.

I also note the The Straits Time's report (7 July 2012) which says “The Monetary Authority of Singapore has clarified that the Republic’s pledge to lend US$4 billion to the IMF does not breach the Constitution.” This is astonishing since the last time I checked, MAS was not the High Court. Surely to suggest that MAS’s opinion has the force of law, when this is precisely the matter that I am asking the Court to adjudicate, is contempt of court?

In any democracy, whether robust, vibrant or ailing, the MSM should not produce damning articles on an individual whilst denying him the right of reply. In a democracy, the government should not hide behind a wall of silence and technicalities. In a democracy, the State media would not treat the judiciary as merely an arm of the executive whose independence does not need to be respected. In a democracy, an opposition party’s official response would not have to be published on blogs and a citizen would not have to file a court order to have vital questions of public interest addressed.