Two days ago on 6 May, Global Times Singapore had uploaded a post accusing South China Morning Post (SCMP) of curating Singaporean content from a “rather narrow group of individuals with very narrow opinions”. The page also claimed that this group of authors had the intention to “weaken” the People’s Action Party (PAP) dominated parliament.
Not only that the page accused SCMP of opposing Singapore’s government, but it listed out several prominent figures such as Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, Ken Kwek, Tan Tarn How, PN Balji, Inderjit Singh and Professor Donald Low.
To support its views that SCMP is anti-PAP, Global Times Singapore claimed that all these authors it revealed are Singaporeans with anti-PAP stance. The page added that many of these people were ex-IPS, and they are friends with Singaporean author and professor of media studies, Cherian George.
“They are all Singaporeans with an anti-PAP stance. Many of these persons were ex-IPS and friends of Cherian George, the disgruntled professor previously working for NTU.”
Besides being described as the “disgruntled professor” previously working for Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Prof George’s background was further revealed that he now works in Hong Kong with his wife, Zuraidah Ibrahim, who was a top editor at the Straits Times.
As the current Deputy Executive Editor at the SCMP, Mdm Zuraidah’s position at the Hong Kong-based news outlet was being implied that she allows content that is seemingly anti-PAP to be published.
Now, along with the list of aforementioned individuals, both Prof George and Mdm Zuraidah are being painted as the couple to spread China agenda by Global Times Singapore.
The page further explained that China is publishing anti-PAP content to “put pressure on Singapore”. Therefore, with “weakened” governance in Singapore, Singapore is said to be coerced to favour on China-centric issues.
“China is one country that wants to put pressure on Singapore. Our leadership is well known to work strictly according to the rule of law and unlike other nations, cannot be bought with money or favours.
With a weakened governance, China can apply both carrot and stick to bend Singapore’s will towards their favour on China-centric issues – the South China Sea, Taiwan and the U.S. trade and leadership tussle.”
Noticing how his name was being mentioned with importance by Global Times Singapore, Prof George expressed his opinion on his Twitter account yesterday (7 May).
Singapore’s pro-government trolls are sniping domestic critics after SCMP ran a sharp column. And look! Suddenly I’m the hub in an international conspiracy. Am quite honoured, as every person on its hit list is a Singaporean I think highly of…”.
In his tweet, the SCMP column he mentioned was about questioning the PAP-led government’s capability in handling the current COVID-19 pandemic. The article had also suggested that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will become “politically vulnerable ahead of an impending election”.
This piece on SCMP was written by Mr Sudir Thomas and published on 5 May.
According to Prof George, the accusations made by Global Times Singapore were prompted by this particular article.
Prof George also questioned the allegation coming from a fanpage that is naming itself after a pro-China publication.
He went on to ask if the Singapore govenrment would stand up for citizens against such incitement. He opined, “If not, this just adds to the suspicion that the state’s trolls, bots and fans are Singapore’s #1 source of online opinion manipulation, even as it claims to fight fake news.”
How the list of individuals was related to Prof George had left him amused, just because his wife is the Deputy Executive Editor at the SCMP.
Particularly so for this publication as his brother-in-law is Dr Yaccob Ibrahim, current PAP Member of Parliament and former Minister.
Global Times Singapore was previously in the news for alleging in its Facebook post that Taiwan had kept masks produced by Singapore Technologies for its own use. The post was subsequently removed for unknown reason.