In responding to letters by the editors (both past and present) of The Straits Times (ST) that they had not censored Dr Lee Wei Ling’s views, but were only editing her commentary, Dr Lee pointed out exactly which parts of her article the newspaper wanted out.
Dr Lee the daughter of Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, had compared the leaders of two countries – Mao Zedong of China and Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom – with her father. While China hurriedly built a monument to its leader (who it considered semi-divine) Britain only commemorated her prominent leader 50 years later, Dr Lee said.
She said Mr Lee Kuan Yew was dead set against a personality cult and any hint of cronyism, and would have preferred a commemoration like that accorded to Mr Churchill 50 years later, over the one sanctioned by the government which started on 23rd March with a remembrance ceremony held at the former Parliament House, and lasted for an entire week.
This part of Dr Lee’s commentary was what ST wanted edited out.
Today, ST revived a long abandoned section in its newspaper to respond to Dr Lee. Its editor accused Dr Lee of plagiarism.
In its Readers’ Post section, the newspaper’s associate editor Ivan Fernandez identified himself as the one responsible for editing Dr Lee’s commentary and said that he decided to cut out the parts referring to Mao Zedong and Winston Churchill because they were plagiarised (see the associate editor of ST’s post here: http://bit.ly/1UPBgca).
Dr Lee responded in her Facebook to Mr Fernandez’s accusation of plagiarism. She said that the newspaper’s article which carried a photo of an outline of Mr Lee’s face made with 4,877 erasers, prompted her to write her first note.
“I know Papa would be very upset by this sort of hero worship,” she said.
She also said that she felt a sense of urgency to stop all acts of hagiography as she knew how unhappy her father would be by them.
“To put things in context I wanted to recount how other countries honoured their leaders after death,” Dr Lee clarified.
“China’s Chairman Mao and Britain’s Winston Churchill were the best examples to compare the founding prime minister of Singapore to,” she added.
Dr Lee claimed that in the several email exchanges between her and Mr Fernandez on the topic, “never (once) did Ivan bring up the issue of plagiarism”.
“Given that my article was posted on Facebook on 1st April, and this is 9th April, I wonder whether the powers that be had instructed SPH to criticize me and accuse me of plagiarism,” Dr Lee asked.
Dr Lee’s first article on the topic was published in her Facebook not on 1 April, but on 26 March (see this: http://bit.ly/1qD10MC).
“I am a doctor, and writing articles like these do not advance my curriculum vitae which depends on publication on medical issues,” Dr Lee said.
She added, “so I leave my readers to judge me fairly, whether I intentionally plagiarized or as a filial daughter I wanted to stop any attempts at hagiography at the first anniversary of my father’s death.”
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