S’pore media should not take sides: PM Lee’s press secretary

(The Straits Times) – THE press secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written to the Today tabloid newspaper, taking issue with recent articles on the wife of Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.

‘Although developments in Malaysia affect Singapore, we must be disinterested external observers, not partisan participants in their domestic politics,’ Mr Chen Hwai Liang said in a letter addressed to the paper’s editorial director, Mr P.N. Balji.

He was referring to a report headlined ‘Under fire – the ‘First Lady-in-waiting”, which appeared in Today on June 27.

This quoted various Malaysians describing Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor as ‘arrogant’ and ‘ambitious’.

Also criticised by Mr Chen was a subsequent note from Mr Balji, headlined ‘Leave it to our readers to judge’, which was published on July 3.

The latter was in reply to a letter from the Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore, Datuk N. Parameswaran, taking issue with the June 27 report.

Both of Today’s articles ‘took a slant which cast doubt on your newspaper’s objectivity’, said Mr Chen.

‘Singapore media reports on events and developments from around the world in order to keep Singaporeans well-informed and aware of what is happening around us. But it is important for the Singapore media’s reporting of political developments in other countries to be objective and factual,’ he said.

‘In particular, it is unwise for Singapore media to take sides, especially when it involves our immediate neighbours,’ he added.

The Malaysian High Commissioner, who is due to be posted back to Kuala Lumpur soon, wrote in his letter to Today:

‘When I arrived in Singapore, Malaysia-Singapore relations were really at a low. But it was the personalities of Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong which made possible the positive changes that had taken place in the bilateral relations.’

He ‘was rather perturbed’ by the Today article as it carried quotes which he said ‘vilified the character’ of Madam Rosmah, and added that ‘it was a naughty line to take’.

In a rejoinder published next to Mr Parameswaran’s letter, Mr Balji said: ‘We will leave it to our readers to judge us on that.’

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