The front page news in the only local mainstream English broadsheet, The Straits Times, was dedicated to the late Mr S R Nathan. Mr Nathan is the sixth President of Singapore and served two six-year terms, the longest in the short history of Singapore. He passed away yesterday, 22 Aug 2016.
The front page news however carried several glaring errors and what’s worst, these errors took credit away from another former President of Singapore, Mr Ong Teng Cheong.
The newspaper reported that Mr Nathan is the first elected President of Singapore. That is wrong. Mr Ong Teng Cheong is the first elected President of the Republic.
Mr Ong resigned from his position as the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore and as a member of the People’s Action Party in 1993 to contest in Singapore’s first presidential election. He won with 58.7 percent of the votes and became Singapore fifth president and the first to be elected.
Mr Ong is particularly remembered for refining the constitutional powers and workings of the elected presidency, particularly pertaining to its custodial role in safeguarding the national reserves.
During his tenure, Ong also initiated a number of charities such as the President’s Star Charity, which financially benefited at least 160 organisations during his six years as president. This charity event later evolved into President’s Challenge under Mr Nathan and grew to benefit even more welfare organisations.
Another error the newspaper made was to quote a person who came early to pay respects to the late Mr Nathan.The person the newspaper quoted said that he voted for Mr Nathan during the presidential election.
Mr Nathan however became the Elected President due to a walkover, both in the years 1999 and 2005.
The newspaper later corrected the errors in its online version of the report, but did not offer an apology.
Update: The Straits Times apologised for its error of naming Mr S R Nathan as the first Elected President of Singapore on 24 Aug in its print version.