Photo of Tharman Shamugaratnam from channelnewsasia shushan lam

Speaking at at conference held at state propaganda institute Lee Kuan Yew Institute of Public Policy,  Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Tharman Shanmugaratnam denounced that news on social media are polarized, biased and dishonest.

“What politicians say does influence how people think. And unfortunately, there is a new phenomenon – it’s in the social media. The way in which social media as a dominant media around the world today is polarised and becoming more so, and the way in which algorithms filter ‘news’ and information in a way that reinforces people’s biases. What we’re seeing is a polarisation in politics, with the rise of both the populist right and left, a weakening of the politics of the centre, but the same being mirrored in the media and in particular social media. So it’s not too surprising that people themselves think in increasingly polarised terms.”

There is however no mention of the 154th-ranking in credibility for the government-controlled state media Singapore Press Holdings, which is often called out for disseminating disinformation.

DPM Tharman then offered that the ruling party PAP government can “help citizens regenerate the politics of the centre” with “honest politics”:

“There’s been a long drift towards short-termism in politics, left and right. Every of the major challenges that I’ve talked about … every one of them requires actions that only pay off over multiple electoral periods. Short-termism is the biggest enemy of social mobility, the regeneration of cities. Politics that is honest, that tells people what’s what, that offers them hope because there are real solutions, and those are the solutions that the politics of the centre can bring back confidence.”

Ruling party PAP government laying claims to “honest politics” are usually isolated to speeches alone, as the country is currently embroiled in numerous corruptions. Million dollar ministerial salaries, restricting only a single race for the Presidential Election and the power concentration of CPF funds control, legislations and sovereign wealth fund companies are some of the legalised corruption sanctioned by the ruling party PAP.