Cherian George on the workings of the media: This is exactly what Lee Kuan Yew designed the press system to do

Photo: YouTube screengrab

Cherian George, professor of media studies in the journalism department of Hong Kong Baptist University wrote a post on his website Air-Conditioned Nation about the pseudo-freedom of the press, adding that the way the press behaves today was “exactly what Lee Kuan Yew designed the press system to do”.

In his post on November 1, he spoke about freedom of the press, and explained that there were papers that aimed to be completely free, and those that served as channels of propaganda. Exemplifying The Straits Times, he added ironically, that “instead of struggling to be free, [the paper] struggles to be seen as free”.

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In his post, Mr George also brought up two cases that occurred in the past week – the position of Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh with regards to the stance of the mainstream media and the removal of Li Xueying as political editor at The Straits Times.

Quoting Tommy Koh, he said, “the press shows a bias for official positions”, even if there are other more valid or water-tight arguments.

He also added that “one of ST’s most competent journalists, Li Xueying, was removed from her post as political editor because she was not trusted by some government leaders”.

Mr George then said, “This is conformism and self-censorship at an advanced level, where gatekeepers do what’s required of the powers that be while insisting, maybe even believing, that they are acting independently”.

“And this is exactly what Lee Kuan Yew designed the press system to do”, he said.