If the Straits Times (ST) truly wants to stay relevant, it must halt its role as the mouthpiece of the People’s Action Party (PAP), said Bryan Lim Boon Heng from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).

In a Facebook post on Thursday (16 July), Mr Lim pointed out that former Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was “waxing lyrical” on the ST’s 175th anniversary on Wednesday (15 July).

“The Straits Times must continue to adapt and modernise itself, to remain relevant to readers who now have multiple sources of news, views and entertainment, online and offline,” said Mr Lee in an excerpt of his congratulatory message to the ST, which Mr Lim cited in his post.

Mr Lim, who contested in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC in GE2020, asserted that the ST must cease its role as the mouthpiece of the PAP if it truly wishes to remain relevant.

“Not trying to nitpick here but the ST has again tried to shape public opinion that the PAP has successfully managed the pandemic when in actual fact, the international press had a field day highlighting its mishandling which had inevitably led to a lockdown & crippled our economy,” he explained.

Mr Lim also attached multiple screenshots of write-ups by the ST along with news headlines from various international press to illustrate his point.

He went on to say, “So how can the ST ‘adapt’ when it is not reporting the cold hard facts like its international counterparts have truthfully done?

“So how can the ST ‘modernize’ when it refuses to come out of the PAP’s shadows & continues to trumpet the PAP’s groupthink rhetoric?

“So how can the ST stay ‘relevant’ when it has yet to or at least attempt to fulfill its Fourth Estate role in its 175 years of existence & play its part to safeguard our more than 5 decades of democracy (some called it pseudo democracy)?”

Mr Lim then highlighted the ongoing struggle of mainstream press in finding its rightful place in a time where social media is the cornerstone of shaping the way politics is played and discussed.

He argued that modernisation and adaptation is not just about winning the race on digitalisation and rolling out online content, but it is about “seriously considering to shed that tag- ‘I will always report the PAP favorably’ and upholding the same high journalistic standards as the international ones”.

“I look forward to writing something different on the ST’s 180th birthday,” Mr Lim remarked.

He ended his post with a quote by former US President Thomas Jefferson: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

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