chok tong's take on the role of media
while ho kwonping's position was confusing, chok tong's is perplexing. his opening shot is that to hell with western opinion on press freedom here. and, press freedom does not guarantee good govt. or in an indirect way, we don't need press freedom to govern well. many western liberals or advocates of press freedom or freedom of expression will definitely frown on these remarks. can't blame the outgoing us ambassador lavine for his comments on this issue. then again chok tong made all the remarks that are deemed proper and correct in the same breath. things like the press must not be a mouth piece of the govt and parrot whatever the govt said or it would lose its credibility. and that he did not favour a subservient press...an unthinking press is not good for singapore. he added that the media is free to put across a range of worthy different viewpoints to encourage constructive social and political discourse. ho kwonping better take note of this last point and not churn out a press that has no opinion of its own and no view to express except to borrow other people's view to make a point. so what did choktong really said? maybe with regard to press freedom, if there is a choice, lesser freedom is acceptable as long as the country is governed well. and the press should play a constructive role to engage the people in issues that concerned the nation. otherwise, we will continue to have an apathetic people and press for a long time to come. now comes the tricky part. how could the media navigate through this maze, to be constructive, relevant and credible and without stepping on the govt's toe? or to tow the line without being seen to be so, and not to lose its credibility in the eyes of the people. in fact warren fernandez has described in his article this morning (5 nov) that the bbc was able to play a constructive role during the bombings in london because the readers believed in its objectivity. do our readers believe in what is reported in the straits times with respect to govt policies and positions? comments from the kopitiams is very negative. that it is a very biased paper that does not have an independent view. with ho kwonping's confirmation of its role as a passive paper, it is very difficult for the media to change the perception of its readers or the people. then should it be bothered? or should it adopt the position that press freedom is not important as long as the govt is governing well?