In the West, for every liar or propaganda outlet, they have ten newspapers willing to report facts and truth, to get out there, to find and tell the story. Here in Singapore, and in Asia at large, we don’t have anyone with the guts to tell news. We don’t have anyone not primarily based in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan or on the internet that is willing to refute propaganda. For every government-owned mouthpiece that poses as an honest paper, there are almost none that will refute the lies.
TOC is one of the few. But it’s not enough. Singapore has the Straits Times, TODAY, and then a collection of minor online newspapers. That’s all we have. By comparison, the U.S state of West Virginia, with three times less population than Singapore, has twenty-five newspapers. This is horrifying. Will children grow up learning nothing other than the government line, even though we have the power to circumvent their propaganda? This is my most major fear for Singapore.
There is a saying, ‘If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be.’ We cannot hide under the old idea that newspapers and channels are just propaganda outlets or mouthpieces. They should have always been, and must always be, a fundamental part of our country. And if that is to be so, we must make use of even the smallest freedoms we have been granted privilege to by our founding fathers to fight for the truth in this country. We must tell the truth where the PAP will not. We must tell the facts and fight the lies wherever they come.
Start your own papers. Do your own fact-checking. Look for the story wherever it may be – We need journalists. Not reporters or fancy-pants experts. We need people who are brave enough to look for a story and carry through with it. People willing to expose corruption, report on suffering, and tell the story even at the risk of their own life. Remember Seah Chiang Nee?
Our country will remain stagnant and in decline so long as we refuse to see the world in front of us, so long as we refuse to remove the blindfold that has covered our eyes for so long. Singaporeans need to step up to the plate and do the right thing. We must build a fourth wave of democracy – and one that will truly last – through the press. As it is by the votes of foolish people that a nation dies, but by the words of brave souls that the nation thrives.