Increasing fake news and propaganda from government-controlled media like The Straits Times have risen the popularity of States Times Review (STR). As of today (23 July 2017), STR boasted a 19.6 million record views over two years, netting a total of A$55,824 in ad revenue since inception in May 2015. STR also expanded into Chinese news with the setting up of Nanyang Shi Bao (南洋時報) to reach out to elderly Chinese readers, and the website is already seeing rising readership.
BBC Global News’ CEO recently said that fake news gives rise to quality journalism, and this is all that succinctly explains STR’s rising popularity.
Fake news on Straits Times works in conjunction with the ruling party dictatorship’s political agenda, ranging from conducting lopsided surveys to misrepresenting Singaporeans’ voices. One prime example is the Presidential Election, where state media CNA conducted a biased survey to conclude that Singaporeans are racist when it comes to voting. The fake survey provided a fake alibi for dictator Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to re-write the Constitution and introduce a racist election.
Rehashing unsound argument is also a major role of government-controlled media and the most recent one is HDB’s illogical insistence that possession of a HDB lease equates to home ownership. Other less effective propaganda method is to have “opinion editors” or consult fake “experts” on certain issues to agree with the government on twisted logic.
The damage of propaganda goes beyond whitewashing the truth, as both social and economic indicators like income gap, poverty, environmental health, rail reliability, CPF funds, emigration rate and birth rate become lowly placed in government priorities. Most Singaporeans do not think much of poverty as they believe in the propaganda that Singapore is rich, and hence there is no urgency to help the poor because “the government is already helping”; Many believe train breakdowns “are not as bad as other countries” because fake surveys claim satisfaction are rising; Having the lowest birth rate is no problem, because Singapore welcomes “foreign talents” to make up the population; Propaganda distorted the actual state of affairs and dislodged priorities, throwing the society into disarray.
Fortunately, many Singaporeans have realised that all those glitter are not gold. More Singaporeans are subscribing to overseas news websites which have a higher credibility than the 154th ranking local media. However, Law Minister K Shanmugam have already signalled that a ban is coming so “educated Singaporeans can be better informed”. The legal hooligan said he will make independent news websites “feel the pain”, and smugly said that Singapore voters can vote the government out if they are unhappy.