Amnesty launches appeal for Singapore opposition politician

SINGAPORE (AP) Amnesty International on Monday said that a defamation ruling likely to bankrupt a key opposition leader may “inhibit political life in Singapore” and called for a letter-writing campaign to support the embattled politician.

Chee Soon Juan, the leader of the Singapore Democratic Party, was ordered to pay damages to Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew and former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong for calling into question their handling of public funds during the 2001 election campaign.

Lawyers for Lee and Goh estimate that Chee will end up having to pay Goh and Lee more than US$500,000 (euro 407,000), an amount he says he cannot pay.

In Singapore bankrupt politicians are barred from running for elections, due by 2007.

Amnesty has launched a letter-writing campaign on behalf of Chee, saying his situation has worsened because he is unable to get a local lawyer to represent him in Singapore’s sham courts.

Goh, who currently serves as Singapore’s senior minister and Lee, who holds the title of minister mentor, are both members of the ruling People’s Action Party, or PAP.

Chee, a neuropsychologist, failed to show for a hearing earlier this month because he was traveling overseas.

He is scheduled to appear before the city-state’s High Court Thursday, where he will appeal to reconvene a hearing on the amount of the damages.

Singapore’s leaders say they sue to protect their reputations but critics charge the lawsuits are designed to cripple the opposition and democratic debate.

“Chee Soon Juan has confirmed he is working with foreigners and that his objective is to damage Singapore and its judiciary in the eyes of the world,” Lee’s press secretary, Yeong Yoon Ying, was quoted in local media last week as saying earlier this month.

State-linked broadcaster Channel NewsAsia said her comments came after Chee’s appeal letter to Singapore’s chief justice for a new hearing on the damages was copied to 13 foreign organisations, including Amnesty.

– AP

Singapore’s heavy brigade

Singapore’s heavy brigade holds foreign media to ransom with

litigation threats

MICAHEL BACKMAN

903 words

22 September 2004

The Age

© 2004 Copyright John Fairfax Holdings Limited. http://www.theage.com.au

‘Uncompromising views, without fail” promises The Economist magazine in its advertising. Well, The Economist has failed.

On August 14, the London-based magazine published an unremarkable piece titled “First Singapore, next the world” on Temasek Holdings, the Singapore Government holding company that controls some 40 listed companies in Singapore. These companies have a market worth of around $S60 billion ($A51 billion), about a quarter of the local stock exchange’s market capitalisation.

In turn, the companies have assets in Australia. Among them are the electricity transmission network for the entire state of Victoria and Optus, the country’s second biggest telecommunications operator.

The Economist said in its piece that Temasek lacks transparency, that listed Temasek companies have significantly underperformed the stockmarket and that they typically operate in protected markets with favourable regulation. All of that is true. It also said that Temasek operated with a “whiff of nepotism”. That may be true too, but who is to say?

Two weeks later, on September 1, The Economist printed an apology to the Lees. The offending article, the magazine explained, could have been taken to mean that the new Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and/or Lee’s father Lee Kuan Yew were responsible for having Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching, appointed to head up Temasek, not on merit but “for corrupt nepotistic motives for the advancement of the Lee family’s

interests”. It went on to apologise and mentioned that damages had been paid to Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Kuan Yew. Those damages totalled an astonishing $S390,000.

Personally, I would not have said that Ho Ching’s appointment owes anything to nepotism because I have no evidence that it does. The Economist was careless to suggest it. Ho Ching is certainly well-qualified. It might be fair to question whether nepotism played a role in her appointment but not fair to assert it.

But whether the assertion of nepotism is worth S$390,000 particularly when the Prime Minister, the Minister Mentor (as Lee Kuan Yew is now known) and the head of the Government’s main holding company are all close relatives is another matter. The issue did not go to court. Lee family lawyers complained to The Economist and within two weeks the magazine had paid up. By any measure the sum is obscene. And ridiculous.

In Australia this inference of nepotism would be taken as fair comment, particularly with politicians for whom public scrutiny is part of public office. It would also need to be demonstrated that The Economist had been acting maliciously. Of course it was not.

In 2002, the two Lees and then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong picked up $S595,000 from the Bloomberg wire service in settlement over an article that the men had deemed offensive. It was on the same matter – Ho Ching’s appointment to Temasek. Other media organisations have also been threatened with defamation. Several have paid out.

Huge out-of-court payments such as these are now part of the cost of doing business in Singapore for news organisations. Principle has been sacrificed for commercial considerations.

If the Singapore Government is not appeased then the risk is that media outlets’ distribution in Singapore will be curtailed. Several prominent foreign newspapers and magazines learned the hard way in the 1980s and ’90s when their distribution in Singapore was cut back.

Not surprisingly, The Economist is not commenting on the matter. Perhaps it is embarrassed. It ought to be. At what point does an out-of-court payout become a pay-off?

Britain has made it illegal for its registered companies to make improper payments to foreign officials. It would be interesting to know whether the payments to the Lees, which appear to be excessive, are not court-awarded and which appear to be made to head off controls on the magazine’s distribution, would constitute bribery of foreign officials under British law. What would be made of a western company (which is what The Economist is) giving such a large sum without apparent consideration to say, a pair of Indonesian ministers? There wouldn’t be a whiff of nepotism so much as the stench of corruption.

Singapore Government officials defend their right to take defamation action and to be awarded huge payouts on the basis that their personal integrity is vital. But acting like sensitive control freaks would detract from their integrity such that over time, compensation for damage to their reputations should decline with the value of those reputations.

No doubt media organisations will defend their payouts to head off legal action by saying that legal costs in Singapore can be enormous. Certainly they are, and the Lees themselves have been significant beneficiaries. Lee & Lee is one of the largest law firms in Singapore. It’s little wonder that litigation has become a powerful tool for the family. It’s what they know best.

But the real problem is that foreign news organisations allow themselves to be so readily picked off by the Singapore Government. Multinational companies have started to initiate joint strategies to combat intellectual property rights abuses. It’s about time that foreign media organisations did the same to combat the litigious excesses of the Singapore Government.

michaelbackman@yahoo.com

Pseudo-competition in the media

The recent u-turn regarding pseudo-competition in the media in Singapore has been weighing heavily on my mind and I have been particularly concerned with the TODAY newspaper and its recent history. The article quoted below was first published on the Optical on Sat Nov 22, 2003. I feel it may shed more light on the ‘reasoning’ behind the PAP’s motivations for ending pseudo-competition in the press. To claim that it is the result of economic concerns is too simplistic. I prefer to look for multiple underlying causes rather than focusing on one.

I sense an underlying shift in the relationship that the PAP has with the media. An experiment in ‘opening up’ turned sour for the PAP.

What seems to have happened is that with the birth of these new papers the reporters actually fell for the rhetoric that it meant greater press freedom. As soon as they focused on the Lee family and there trip to the UK and the medical situation that arose, the management were summoned and reprimanded and eventually replaced a few months later.

However the recent move seems to herald a tightening of the reigns on freedom of expression. Reporters working for the Today newspaper will not have the chance to push the boundaries of ‘acceptable’ commentary, now that they are under the wing of The Straits Jacket. Are the shutters coming down in preparation for an election campaign?

If yes, then as with previous election campaigns the opposition parties have virtually no voice in the local press and websites which are deemed ‘political’ are told to register.

In order to control a nation, violence is too visible and a more underhanded and effective tactic is to control the issues that are discussed within the population at large.

I am not arguing that the editors of the Straits Times are being coerced into toe-ing the party line. I am however arguing that there is no need to coerce them. They have risen to the top of the paper because they have always unfailing toed the line. The young team of journalists of the Today paper were taught a valuable lesson for anyone wishing to do well in Singapore.

So for me, change requires a catalyst to ignite a u-turn on a policy. The report on what occurred in London and the backlash against the Lee family by the British press may have been that spark.

Exclusive: SM Lee Vents Anger at TODAY

SM Lee Vents Anger at Newspaper for Report About His Wife

Singapore Libertarians is concerned about news that a Singapore newspaper was taken to task for reporting on the incidents that recently occurred in London over the treatment of Mrs Lee Kuan Yew when she suffered a stroke there.

Singapore Libertarians was informed that last week SM Lee had summoned the top brass of a Singapore daily, Today, after the paper published a story that indicated his wife had received preferential treatment in a London hospital.

Mr Lee met with senior staff members of Today Mr Ernest Wong, Group Chief Executive Officer of Mediacorp (which publishes the newspaper), Mr Mano Sabnani (Editor of Today), Mr Rahul Pathak (Deputy Editor of Today) and Ms Val Chua (a journalist with the newspaper).

The meeting took place around noon on 5 November 2003. It was learned that the above mentioned staff members of the newspaper were reprimanded for publishing the article “SM Lee and the eye opening trauma in London.” They were also warned against writing any articles that were risqué.

If it is true that the meeting between Mr Lee and the newspaper staff actually took place, the incident constitutes a grave breach of journalistic practices in Singapore where newspapers are expected to report the truth freely without undue interference from the government.

Singapore Libertarians is concerned about the effect this meeting has on the media in Singapore. It is a clear indication that not only has the liberalisation of the mass media not happened in this, but also that Mr Lee Kuan Yew has no compunction about putting journalists on a very short leash when it comes to reporting on his family and the PAP.

The government must rectify this unethical and unhealthy situation immediately. It has to clearly separate the interests of the ruling party and the demands of the Senior Minister from the those of an independent media. Singapore’s media organisations must not be used by one man or one party for their own agenda. They should have the right to perform their duties without fear or favour.

We also urge the management of Today to stand firm on its principles and serve the interests of the public.

In Singapore, all local newspapers, radio and television stations are owned and controlled by the government or its agencies and foreign publications are subjected to defamation suits and various laws to ensure compliance with the ruling party’s views and policies.

For further information, contact us at: singaporeliberty@hotmail.com

Lowest of the low

Lowest of the low: Foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in Singapore

(Singapore Studies)
The PAP government of Singapore causes mistreatment of FDWs by positioning them in the very lowest stratum of society. How does it do this? By abstaining from specifying the legal rights of foreign domestic workers as employees.

Thursday, 23 September 2004

by Yasuko Kobayashi



Potential for more abuse

A new government package – a sharp reduction of the maid levy for families with children aged below 12 (from $345 to 250) – to stimulate the birth rate announced on 25th August seems calculated to increase the exploitation of FDWs.

This will make FDWs an even more attractive solution to the problem of child care. With legally unrestricted working hours, FDWs are the ‘ideal’ labour force for this purpose.

Babies cry regardless of time, and children grizzle regardless of time; unlimited exploitation of this unlimited labour force is a likely concomitant of the new baby package.

Unlike for Singaporean employees, the Employment Act does not apply to foreign domestic workers. Hence, the relation between the employers and FDWs is left to their “personal arrangement.” This opens up a huge range of interpretations of what the relation can be.

For instance, it is possible for employers to keep pushing around foreign domestic workers, by saying, “oh this is personal arrangement, you see. No written contract about provisions of working hours.”

Recently, in April 2004, the Singapore government did introduce a compulsory guidance course for both foreign domestic workers and first-time employers of them. And on the 30th of August, the Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen mentioned raising the minimum age of FDWs from the current minimum age of 18 years old. Nonetheless, the Employment Act is yet to be applied to foreign domestic workers.

Maid Surveillance

The government positions FDWs in the lowest social stratum, too, by compelling employers and maid agencies to control them strictly.

For instance, it is compulsory for foreign domestic workers to take a medical examination every six months, and this obligation is left to either the employer or the maid agency. This examination includes an HIV and VDRL (venereal disease research laboratory) test, and a pregnancy test.

If this examination shows the foreign domestic worker to be pregnant, she must return to her original country immediately, and it is a duty of the employer to undertake this repatriation.

If the employer fails to do so, then s/he will not receive a refund of the $5000 security bond that s/he has paid.

Similarly, if a foreign domestic worker commits any illegal conduct, the employer may not have this security bond refunded. If a foreign domestic worker commits suicide, then the employer will not receive a refund of the $3000 personal accident insurance bond that s/he has paid.

The society is thus called on to participate in surveillance procedures by the proffered carrot of bond refunds.

Dehumanising Treatment of Maids

In the ways above, the PAP government creates perceptions within the Singapore society that FDWs are the lowest of the low. Largely as a result of this, FDWs are dehumanized and mistreated by the society.

The most obvious form this takes is physical abuse. Only days ago, on 21st August 2004, another case of abuse was reported by Straits Times. A 31 year old woman who bit her maid, burnt her and slashed her with two knives was jailed for 28 months by a district court.

However, FDWs undergo more subtle forms of dehumanising treatment as well.

Agencies often display their products (i.e. maids) for business purposes. Some display the photographs of their maids with a detailed description of them: age, language ability, housework skills and so forth. These details are called “bio-data.”

Other maid agencies display a videotape of maids. On this videotape, the maid speaks to you about her bio-data. “My name is Sari. I am from Indonesia. I am twenty three years old. I love children. …” Some agencies even have maids sitting in the window to attract customers.

Also there is an internet trade in maids: as commodities. You can obtain a whole set of details of your potential maids as if buying products over the internet. And sometimes you can find maids advertised by “promotion” offers, valid till such and such a date. Hurry!!

In scenes of everyday life, discriminative treatment is equally stark. In a food court, one might see (as I did) a maid told to eat the left-over food from the meal of her employer’s family. Some people have their maids sleep in the kitchen, saying, “A room for a maid ah? No need lah.”

Or you can see this posting on a web forum for Singapore employers: “My best friend takes her servant to tattoo store to make a big tattoo saying “Property of KIM” on her back.. I just saw it and it looks very cool. Anyone else do this to their servants ??”

Need for Policy Change

So, although the most obvious forms of mistreatment of maids are not committed by the PAP government but rather by the Singaporeans, we can see clearly the hand of the PAP government behind it.

Its policies towards FDWs create a social environment where their dehumanization and abuse within the society becomes almost inevitable.

Until the PAP government acts to protect the basic right of FDWs, the brand of ‘lowest of the low’ will be deeply stamped on them, which will cause further dehumanization, abuse and death.

This ugly picture does not fit the self-image of Singapore as a ‘first world’ country, does it?

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER

http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/news_display.php?id=593

Open letter from J B Jeyaretnam to PM

22 September 2004


OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER

I decided to wait until you got over the intoxication of your appointment as Prime Minister and the media ovation following your National Day speech before I wrote to you.

In your speech you tried to make yourself out as a harbinger of change in contrast from your father and Mr Goh Chok Tong. But what is the change that you hold out for our people?

In your marathon speech you have not shown that you understand how changes are brought about in a society and who are the vehicles of change. Change must come from and must be made by the people. You do not seem to understand that the changes must come from the people and not imposed on them from above. If our people are to bring about the changes, then it must be made very clear to you that they must be freed from any fear that any action by them to bring about change will be met with incarceration, loss of civil rights, financial or material loss to them.

In your speech you do not show that you understand this. What steps will you take to remove this fear from the minds of our citizens? The biggest fear is that one may be arrested at 2 a.m. in the morning, blindfolded and taken to a detention centre and denied all access to the courts. What is your plan to remove this fear? Please do not tell us that this fear exists only in my mind or other political activists out to make trouble. This fear will exist as long as this power of detention without trial exists. That must be plain to anyone.

No number of assurances by your ministers that this power will not be abused is good enough unless at the same time you put in place checks to prevent any abuse of that power. What plans have you got in mind to prevent an abuse of this power? David Marshall, after he took over from the British, introduced a check on the exercise of this power but the moment your father took over from him, that check was abolished.

What steps have you in mind to permit our citizens to elect their representatives to Parliament without any fear or compulsion? That is the only way the electorate can bring about any change.

Elections in Singapore are neither free nor fair. What steps have you got in mind to bring about a more transparent free and fair elections and that elections cease to be a government show?

What steps have you got in mind to ensure that the Rule of Law is strictly applied from the President down to the lowest member of society?

The Rule of Law is the bedrock of citizens to sleep soundly knowing that they will not be punished in any way if they have not committed any act punishable in a court of law.

Your speech is completely silent on all these – the essentials for any change in society.

Nor have you said any said anything in your speech, going by what has been reported, what change you propose in the lives of:

1. the thousands of Singaporeans who are dependent on welfare agencies for their daily sustenance;

2. our citizens who are struggling to provide for themselves and their families the basic amenities of life;

3. Singaporeans and particularly the elderly who find the cost of medical care very prohibitive and resort to suicide;

4. Singaporeans who are too old to work and have no income to maintain themselves;

5. our workers who have been reduced to the position of serfs in the Middle Ages without any rights and dependent entirely on the employers’ goodwill. These classes form the majority in our society and you have nothing to say to them.

6. Have you any plans to end the great disparity in income in our society with ministers earning a million dollars or more every year while there are still numbers in our society earning less than $7,000 a year? Have you any plans to bring down the cost of living to our citizens earning less than $18,000 a year?

For more on obscene ministerial salaries See:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/1205

Unless you tell us what you intend to do about these problems that I have addressed, I am afraid your speech will go down as pure rhetoric, mere sound and fury signifying nothing.

Even the cosmetic changes that you announced were further refined a few days later to remove the hope of any real change. Freedom of speech cannot be confined within walls. It must be free like the wind to blow where it will.

I do not know whether you will reply to this letter but I can assure you many Singaporeans will be waiting to hear your response.

J B Jeyaretnam

Chairman

Open Singapore Centre

7 Sept 2004

Its Time for the Straits Times to Wake Up

Although the blogging community in Singapore maybe small when compared to other nations, and even fewer bloggers in Singapore are political, the old media of the rest of the world are waking up to the irritant known as bloggers. South Korea’s OhMyNews is a prime example of the use of blogs to question and check claims made in the national press. Singapore’s discourse has been and continues to be dominated by a state controlled media. My reason for creating this blog was to engender open debate and discussion, I merely hope than others will join in the debate on issues that effect all of us living in Singapore.

Blogging on

The web is being used to hold old media to account

Victor Keegan

Wednesday September 22, 2004

The Guardian

CBS’s admission that its story of George Bush’s special treatment when with the Texas air national guard was deeply flawed is being seen as a key victory for the new “blogging” community of the internet against old media.

This is mainly true. Although papers such as the Washington Post were on the case, the retraction would not have happened when it did but for the efforts of an army of bloggers – writers of online journals – in exposing the documents as fraudulent, including some who authoritatively questioned the authenticity of the documents almost as they were released.

CBS was doubly at fault. It failed to appreciate the force of the thousands of voluntary fact-checkers out there on the web (let alone trying to harness their power in advance), while also failing to interview bloggers after the event as part of an ongoing story.

Newspapers often claim superiority because their stories go through a time-established filtration plant – professional writers, skilled subeditors, revise subs and expensive lawyers. This compares with the web’s more anarchic processes, where brews of unfiltered stories, some highly speculative, are put into circulation, and cream sometimes rises to the top.

In fact, bloggers are often people very expert in their own fields who attract other experts when issues in their domain are newsworthy. Stories in old media can be fact-checked instantaneously and the journalists and their newspapers held to account.

At present this emergent “citizens’ media” is reactive rather than pro-active, but things could change quickly. It has already happened in South Korea, where OhmyNews, which claims 33,000 citizen reporters, is highly influential and has a philosophy that in the 21st century everyone can write news stories and share them.

OhmyNews is not an aggregation of blogs, because stories submitted by citizens are edited by a small permanent staff. But it does give some idea of what the future might hold. One of the reasons for the explosive growth of blogs during the past few years is that they are almost childishly easy to install – requiring no knowledge of the internet – and are mainly free (blogger.com is one of the best places to start).

In the beginning it was just words, but now photographs have been added and video-blogs (or vblogs) are starting to appear as “bandwidth” becomes cheaper. It is not fanciful to suppose that a blog could soon become its own television channel.

There is no doubt that the tectonic plates of journalism are moving. There is awesome potential in the internet as a gatherer, distributor and checker of news – not least through instant delivery channels such as mobile phones. This does not mean old media will die. But it will have to adapt quickly to what has so far been an asymmetrical relationship.

Blogs have battened off newspapers and many newspapers, including the Guardian, have launched their own blogs. But most newspapers, let alone TV stations, have not embraced the blogging revolution as an essential part of the future rather than an irritant in the background. The CBS saga may prove to be the wake-up call they needed.

· Victor Keegan is the editor of Guardian Online

vic.keegan@guardian.co.uk

The Joke That Never Was

From: (Mr) Law Sin Ling

To: Singapore Review

21 Sep 2004

Singapore Media Competition : The Joke That Never Was

A U-turn it was not, so suggested the Prime Minister of Singapore Mr Lee Hsien Loong who assured the country that the recent media merger deal was an “adjustment” (see footnote 1).

Bewildered? Do not adjust your hearing-aids.

To astute observers of Singapore politics, the latest development bore every indication of yet another volte-face. But the PM works on a rather different articulation level of comprehension and interpretation.

Indicating that it was not technically a U-turn, the PM punctuated that from the ashes of the costly experiment will emerge at least one surviving free newspaper, and a new TV channel (see footnote 2).

By that absurd definition one could suppose that frittering billions to produce peanuts makes for a wise investment. That would at least partially ease the vexation of the Singapore government to explain its incredible GDP which is formulated according to the iconoclastic philosophy of much-in-little-out-that-is-what-it-is-about.

The PM also sounded adamant that media-competition would be detrimental to consumers, casually citing examples in Taiwan and the Philippines where standards were allegedly compromised, to sustain his argument (see footnote 3). It was a tune many were familiar with following his father’s interview with ChannelNewsAsia “The Other Side of the Tube” last year in 2003 (see footnote 4).

The PM however fell short of elaborating how Singapore is socially, politically, or economically comparable to the cited countries on this subject?

The reality has never escaped anyone that the so-called competing TV channels and newspapers were seriously lacking in differentiation. More of the same in different names and forms hardly qualifies as competition.

The new channels and papers are more suitably viewed as extensions and branch-offs of the main stream, offering variations on the same theme, with perhaps a pinch of spice. There are hardly substantial materials to captivate consumers eagerly seeking true value-added alternative sources of information, and a channel airing the candid opinions of the population on national issues.

The ex-premier Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong summed up the suspected hypocrisy of the government in his usual self-contradictory and roundabout way (see footnote 5).

And that begs the question if the government had really been sincere about opening the market to competition in the first instance? More of the same playing within the same restrictive parameters established by the government is a recipe for a national fiasco.

And it was a dear failure seemingly scripted and foreseen by the 44-years old government since day one.

The PM frankly admitted to the mismanagement in the introduction of competition into an essentially unchallenged state-monopoly (see footnote 6), a verity enthusiastically seconded by SM Goh (see footnote 7).

The empty conviction of the government had produced an undesirable waste which saw the unnecessary squandering of millions in a huge 4-year simulation to validate the government observation that Singapore lacks the criteria to accommodate more than 1 media and press house.

The PM typically has a vastly differing intellectual view on the subject.

Boldly challenging the consensus views on government influence and manipulation, the premier essayed a clumsy attempt to dissociate the close relationship between the government and both state-linked SPH (which wholly owns MediaWorks) and government-owned MediaCorps (see footnote 8).

Even dismissing the assumption that the government as major shareholders of the principal actors had not exerted considerable influence on the decision, one worrying riddle remains.

If government-linked companies with unchallenged domination or even access to generous state funds could fail so emphatically, what hopes are there for private start-ups? Is the media industry in Singapore destined to remain as state monopolies, operating outside the jurisdiction of the Competition Law? What sort of media hub will Singapore evolve into?

(Mr) Law Sin Ling

Footnotes

(1) “We haven’t made a U-turn. We’ve opened, the companies have tried, they haven’t succeeded, so they are making an adjustment”

– PM Lee’s assessment of the move, The Sunday Times, 19 September 2004.

(2) “It’s not going back to where they were before. You still have Today newspaper with Streats in some form. You will still have Channel U; they have said they’re going to keep it” – PM Lee’s interpretation that it was not technically a U-Turn, The Sunday Times, 19 September 2004.

(3) “In any case, the media industry, is a rather ‘unusual’ one in which competition did not always mean that consumers would be better off. Look at Taiwan and the Philippines. Competition is intense, but it doesn’t necessarily benefit the consumer or society because standards have dropped” – PM Lee’s consolation of the development, The Sunday Times, 19 September 2004.

(4) http://www.singapore-window.org/sw03/031112to.htm – Comments on MM Lee Kuan Yew’s interview with Channel NewsAsia on his view of media competition in Singapore.

(5) “We would have loved to have had two newspaper groups and TV stations if we could. It makes for a better competitive environment. But unfortunately, the market is too small, especially for TV”

– SM Goh, The Straits Times, 20 September 2004.

(6) “If there had been more preparation and a more gradual move towards competition, it might have had a better chance” – PM Lee’s post-mortem of the failed competition, The Sunday Times, 19 September 2004

(7) “They are not just competing against one another. They are competing against Cable Vision; they are competing against programmes from overseas on Cable Vision. It’s very tough for them to compete and yet not sink one another” – SM Goh on hindsight, The Straits Times, 20 September 2004.

(8) “The Government didn’t interfere. It’s entirely up to the companies. SPH… private shareholders; MCS, Temasek is a shareholder, but MCS has to operate commercially too” – PM Lee uncharacteristically caught in his own words on non-government interference, The Sunday Times, 19 September 2004.