Written by Ng E-Jay
08 June 2008
Although I have been a contributor to the Straits Times Forum page now and then, I know full well that it is a well-oiled propaganda machine designed to support the establishment and spin the yarn of the PAP Government.
Throughout the entire hearing of PM Lee’s and MM Lee’s defamation suit against SDP leaders Dr Chee Soon Juan and his sister Ms Chee Siok Chin, the Straits Times has been telling the story in a one-sided fashion, demonizing the Chee siblings as inept trouble-makers out to create a political theatre out of a court case and peppering the court proceedings with irrelevant questions, questionable antics, even outright lies.
I would like to remind readers of what Lee Kuan Yew said in 1956 as part of the Legislative Assembly debates:
“Repression, Sir is a habit that grows. I am told it is like making love – it is always easier the second time! The first time there may be pangs of conscience, a sense of guilt. But once embarked on this course with constant repetition you get more and more brazen in the attack. All you have to do is to dissolve organizations and societies and banish and detain the key political workers in these societies. Then miraculously everything is tranquil on the surface. Then an intimidated press and the government-controlled radio together can regularly sing your praises, and slowly and steadily the people are made to forget the evil things that have already been done, or if these things are referred to again they’re conveniently distorted and distorted with impunity, because there will be no opposition to contradict.” – Lee Kuan Yew as an opposition PAP member speaking to David Marshall, Singapore Legislative Assembly Debates, 4 October 1956
Today, we see this philosophy enacted in full by the Straits Times, which published an article in the Insight page written by ex-ISD officer and current Political Editor Ms Chua Lee Hoong on Saturday 07 June 2008. This article, which puts the finishing touches on a long and disgusting propaganda campaign against Dr Chee Soon Juan, was published at a time when Dr Chee is in prison and is unable to respond directly to her.
“… or if these things are referred to again they’re conveniently distorted and distorted with impunity, because there will be no opposition to contradict …”
No opposition to contradict, because the person is in jail!
Entitled “The squandered potential of Chee Soon Juan”, Chua Lee Hoong puts together such a splendidly craftily summary of the entire propaganda attack on Dr Chee Soon Juan and the SDP that it does not leave any doubt in my mind the true intentions of our state-controlled media in fixing the Opposition.
Chua Lee Hoong begins by saying Dr Chee created a stir when he first entered politics in 1992, drawing high praise from even the then-leader of the SDP, Mr Chiam See Tong. Then the niceties stop abruptly. She goes on to question rhetorically, “What has happened in the 16 years hence? Today, one cannot help but conclude that the trailblazer is more a sputtering meteor, and perhaps one with an antisocial personality disorder.”
Apparently, Ms Chua now wants to be a psychiatrist as well. Perhaps she aspires to be the “doctor” who allegedly told MM Lee that Dr Chee was “near psychopath”.
Chua Lee Hoong says the SDP of today is “hardly credible as an opposition party”.
So how does Chua Lee Hoong argue her case that SDP is not credible? She states that during the 3-day court hearing to assess damages in the defamation suit brought on by PM Lee and MM Lee, the public gallery was invariably full, whilst SDP supporters numbered at most 15 or so.
I say Chua Lee Hoong is hardly credible herself. Does she not recall that on the first day of the court hearing, it was announced in the state media, in particular the New Paper, that PAP grassroots members went down by the busloads to show their support for the Lees? I am amazed that the PAP can be considered to render other opposition parties less credible by merely pulling on their vast machinery and bringing out huge numbers in force.
And who is to say SDP did not have silent supporters in the gallery, who followed the proceedings without publicly showing where their hearts were leaning toward?
Chua Lee Hoong then goes on to say that the SDP argument that the ruling party has used all means at its disposal to suppress it cuts “no ice with the majority of Singaporeans”, citing Mr Chiam See Tong and Mr Low Thia Khiang as examples of Opposition politicians who have succeeded despite the odds.
My question: Succeeded in what sense? In the sense of just holding on to their single seat in Parliament? Or in the sense of building a more credible Opposition that can stand up to the PAP and provide a sound challenge to its power base?
How about the alternative explanation that the PAP has held back from destroying Mr Chiam and Mr Low, for whatever reason, but has chosen not to pull its punches when it comes to Dr Chee, for the simple reason that Dr Chee, if left unchecked, will provide a far more forceful and comprehensive challenge to the system? I will let my readers decide for themselves on this one, as I’m sure most already know where I stand.
Chua Lee Hoong claims that Dr Chee has “disappointed an entire generation of voters” with acts that include misuse of university funds, a hunger strike that included the intake of glucose, the ouster of Mr Chiam from SDP, and the so-called heckling of then-PM Goh Chok Tong near a Jurong hawker centre in 2001.
Look Ms Chua, I know you are trying your darnest to bring down that man, but do you really believe that thinking people will buy into this old refrain any longer? For one, Mr Chiam was not ousted from SDP by Dr Chee. He voluntarily engineered his own exit, contrary to what the state media would have us believe.
Dr Chee’s question to Goh Chok Tong, “Where is the money”, remains valid even till today, as Singaporeans are forced to helplessly watch as the nation’s reserve are funnelled into dubious foreign investments whilst their CPF is still earning a very low interest rate and they are forced to take up schemes such as CPF Life because the national pension system can no longer adequately take care of their retirement needs.
On the heckling of then-PM Goh, our dearest Ms Chua sobs that “It was my misfortune to have witnessed the incident with my own eyes.” Oh, poor thing, that is so sad! Another “Poor me! I’m a victim” mentality, so it seems — exactly the same thing she has accused SDP of having.
But Ms Chua is not done yet. She goes on to mention the International Bar Association (IBA) conference held in Suntec City in 2006 in which Ms Sylvia Lim distanced herself from Dr Chee by siding with the establishment in implying that our laws are fair and just, and saying that “Singaporeans are quite capable of deciding for themselves the kind of country they want and did not need foreigners to canvass our agenda for us … … Singapore is not perfect, and we don’t pretend that it is. But neither should we make it out to be worse than it really is.”
In a country where basic civil rights such as the freedom of speech and assembly are regularly denied, it is astounding how Sylvia Lim could have come up with such a blatantly one-sided comment. Yet our dearest Chua Lee Hoong spares no effort in putting Sylvia Lim on a pedestal so as to make Dr Chee look small in comparison.
So was that the end of her tirade? Fat hope. What came after this makes the previous parts of Ms Chua’s article pale in comparison.
Chua Lee Hoong said that last Monday (02 June 2008), it was JBJ’s turn to distance himself from Dr Chee. She quoted JBJ as saying, ” the counsel doesn’t have to agree with whatever has been done by the client.”
In the first place, that was blatantly taken out of context. JBJ’s main concern at that time was that he did not sufficient time to prepare the appeal for Dr Chee (against his contempt-of-court conviction) as the court had given them too short a notice. Mr Jeyaretnam, counsel for Dr Chee, had made two preliminary applications: one for Judge Ang to recuse herself from the matter, and the second for more time to study the facts of the case as he had only received the Judge’s citations only during the weekend. Both applications were rejected. Dr Chee accordingly discharged Mr Jeyaretnam as counsel and said that he would not be defending the charges.
And to top the icing on the cake, our dearest Ms Chua drags out Dr Chee’s Christian faith and unceremoniously questions whether “Christians will accept his pattern of behaviour as being particularly Christian”.
I wonder if any Christians are actually offended by the dragging of their faith into what is undoubtedly a political discussion, and a horribly lop-sided one at that.
As for our dear Ms Chua’s remarks that Dr Chee could be suffering from antisocial personality disorder (APD), even going to the extent of saying “if he does, we have got to feel sorry for him”, the tragic irony of her audacious claim is that people suffering from APD have a lack of regard for the rights of others, which is precisely what Dr Chee has been fighting for on behalf of all Singaporeans.
Let me say this, even if Dr Chee is indeed suffering from APD, our dearest Ms Chua need not feel sorry for him. I would feel sorry for her instead, for her shameless engagement in gutter journalism, for her putting up such a shoddy and lame attempt at finishing Dr Chee off.
Chua Lee Hoong has made absolutely no effort at hiding the true intentions of the state media which she works for. One propaganda piece after another, each one distorting the facts with greater and greater impunity, leaves me no doubt that Ms Chua and her state media are obsessed with putting the man down at all cost, even at the risk of destroying whatever credibility they have left (if any).
At the end of the day, Ms Chua cannot even put together a coherent piece that is even remotely rational.
Ms Chua Lee Hoong, why do you even bother to try?