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SDP candidate Bryan Lim: Singapore has a “pathetic Third World press”

A few days after post on the relevance of ST, he criticises photos and headlines in SPH's Chinese-language news outlets

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Singapore — A Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate in the recent elections, Mr Bryan Lim, commented in a Facebook post on Friday (July 17) that Singapore is a “First World country with a pathetic Third World press”.

This comes only a few days after he wrote a post on the relevance of The Straits Times (ST), saying that ST has “yet to or at least attempt to fulfill its Fourth Estate role in its 175 years of existence & play its part to safeguard our more than 5 decades of democracy”.

In his most recent post, Mr Lim once again reiterated that the task faced by the opposition in Singapore is an “uphill battle”. This time, he made reference to the skewed portrayal of SDP Chairman Chee Soon Juan and himself in the Singapore Press Holdings’   Chinese-language newspapers Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News.

Mr Lim pointed out that the photographs of him and Dr Chee were “serious and unfriendly”, whereas People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates Heng Swee Keat and Vivian Balakrishnan were pictured smiling. He added that the headlines were also sensationalistic.

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Facebook screengrab

Mr Lim also clarified that the readership profile of the said publications were “Chinese-educated elderly folk from the Merdeka and Pioneer generations” and “older heartlanders from the low to middle-income strata staying in smaller flats”.

He shared that there are many such readers in the five constituencies contested by the SDP in GE2020. These were Bukit Batok SMC, Bukit Panjang SMC, Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC and Yuhua SMC.

Mr Lim said that before the Chinese pre-election debate on television in which he represented the SDP, photojournalists from the two news outlets had taken photos of him smiling. In addition, the SDP Media Liaison had provided the media with the profile photos of all the party’s candidates on Nomination Day.

However, the photograph of Mr Lim that was eventually published had been taken four years earlier at a rally during the Bukit Batok SMC by-election. He pointed to this as being one of the tactics used by the ruling party to “(demonise) the Opposition”.

Mr Lim said the SDP believes that these news outlets “extensively damaged” their election campaign. He reasoned that many voters in Bukit Batok and Bukit Panjang SMCs fit the readership profiles of the two news outlets.

Towards the end of the post, Mr Lim remarked that this was “gutter journalism at its worst — befitting our nation’s 158th ranking on the World Press freedom Index”.

Mr Lim was part of the four-member team from SDP which contested in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC. The other members of the team were Mr Benjamin Pwee, Mr Damanhuri Abas and Mr Khung Wai Yeen. The PAP team members were Mr Lawrence Wong, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Mr Alex Yam and Ms Hany Soh.

The PAP team won 63.18 per cent of the vote and the SDP team 36.82 per cent./TISG

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