Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Singapore ranked at 140th out of 167 countries in freedom of press? SM Goh: No need paiseh!

From Today:

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

A free press? Or efficient govt?
At Today's 5th birthday bash, SM Goh speaks of press power, responsibility and competition

Lee Ching Wern

IN A recent worldwide ranking on freedom of the press, Singapore — 140th out of 167 countries — placed below even war-ravaged Sudan.

First of all, all thinking people should have already realised that it is not freedom of press that cause Sudan to be ravaged by war.

Freedom of press just means being free from govt. interventions when it comes to reporting news, so why can't a war torn country have better press freedom?

Moreover if even war-ravaged Sudan can do better than us in freedom of press, doesn’t it speak volumes about the state of our media?

"Should we be embarrassed because we are near the bottom of the ladder in the ranking? Should we be worried that investors may be put off? Not at all," said Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Yeah we should be proud of our achievement; it is not easy for us to compete with Egypt (143rd), Pakistan (150th), Iraq (157th), Burma (163rd), North Korea (167th) ok?

"What then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said in 1959 is still our position today. He told a foreign correspondent then: 'You are not going to teach us how we should run the country. We are not so stupid. We know what our interests are and we try to preserve them'."

PAP’s interests or Singaporean interests, I wonder...

Speaking at the fifth anniversary dinner for Today at the Shangri-La Hotel last night, Mr Goh first touched on the Press Freedom Index, published by the international non-government organisation Reporters Without Borders, where Singapore fared poorly. Then he pointed to two other indices that told another story.

Transparency International's 2005 survey of corruption perception for 158 countries ranked Singapore as the fifth least corrupt country. Meanwhile, the US-based Heritage Foundation's Economic Freedom Index ranked Singapore second out of 155 economies.

"As for economic prosperity, Singapore is way ahead of many countries with better press freedom rankings. My simple point is this: It has not been proven that having more press freedom would result in a clean and efficient government or economic freedom and prosperity," said Mr Goh.

No matter how many times I look at the list, ALL of the countries that ranked near us does not seem to be corruption free and most of them are not doing well economically. This shows that for every Singapore there is a North Korea, Burma, Cuba, Yemen and whatnot. What make you so sure that we won’t end up like them one day in the future?

Contrary to what western liberals think, the media has no place as the fourth estate here, he added.

"I do not know what our young journalists learn in their university courses but having our media play the role as the fourth estate cannot be the starting point for building a stable, secure, incorrupt and prosperous Singapore. The starting point is how to put in place a good government to run a clean, just and efficient system," said Mr Goh.

Of course having media playing the role of fourth estate cannot be the starting point for building a stable, secure, incorrupt and prosperous Singapore. These are the jobs of police, judicial system, political leadership and most important of all us as voters.

However a free media can help us, the voters, to make informed decisions during General Elections by monitoring and reporting on instances of corruptions, scandals, unkept promises and unsatisfactory performances of these politicians.

That in my opinion is the true value of a free press.

As the media shapes public opinion and provides an important channel for the Government to communicate with the people, it is in a privileged position, he explained. Editors and journalists, thus, shoulder a heavier moral and social responsibility than the CEOs and executives of other commercial companies. He urged editors and journalists to be always be "mindful of the powers wielded by their pens or nowadays, keyboards".

I think SM Goh doesn’t need to worry too much about that given the large number of ex-ISD intelligence “analysts” working for Straits Times. The public opinion shaped by our “credible” media will always conform to the interests of our government.

Recalling how he had shared his views at the 150th anniversary celebrations of The Straits Times on the media paradigm that Singapore should adopt, Mr Goh said: "Today newspaper is only five years old. Compared to The Straits Times it is still a growing child. The fifth birthday is not really a major milestone whether for a child or a commercial organisation.

"However, I agreed to be guest-of-honour because I regard newspapers as more than just the usual commercial products." …

I totally agree with SM Goh on this. There is no better way of spreading our government propagandas, opps sorry is ideas, than our 140th national press and media. Without our 140th press and media, our country will not be as brainwashed, shit paiseh is cohesive, as it is now.


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