Photo of Minister Chee Hong Tat from Straits Times Mark Cheong

In a ministerial visit to the government state media office at Singapore Press Holdings, Senior Minister of State Chee Hong Tat poured praises for the propaganda mouthpiece and encouraged the state media to press on despite falling readership:

“It’s about providing trusted, reliable, accurate, objective information to our readers, to our viewers, and in a manner that can inform them, can engage them.”

The former senior civil servant who has never served in the private sector or in government communications department, then started waxing lyrical about the ethos and fundamentals of news publishing:

“There are four Cs that are important for newsrooms: Content, new and traditional channels to disseminate information, capabilities to invest in and collaboration with other companies.”

Singapore’s state media – Singapore Press Holdings and Mediacorp – are collectively ranked 151th in the world for credibility due to severe government interference. The state media often publishes fake statistics, half-truth and even selective reporting to improve the declining reputation of the ruling party.

The Singapore government is currently clamping down on independent news media by labelling them as “fake news”. In the opening parliamentary session of 2018, Law Minister K Shanmugam raised a green paper – the first in 30 years – to create a Select Committee to write new censorship laws. The ruling party-controlled Select Committee, where K Shanmugam himself sat in, then called out for public suggestions, in a move to give the coming censorship laws a public consensus facade.

The new censorship laws is expected to increase punishments and expand the government’s enforcement powers.