Anti-People’s Action Party (PAP) website States Times Review (STR) is seeking funding in anticipation of the upcoming General Election. The founder of the contentious website, Alex Tan, appealed for funds earlier this month and said that it is “necessary” to seek donations because “everyone wants free news, but this is unsustainable.”
STR has a reputation for publishing inflammatory content and has drawn strong criticism from the Government. In November last year, editor Alex Tan announced that he will be ceasing all website operations, after the authorities geo-blocked his website due to his refusal to take down a disputed article.
Tan, who is now living in Australia, had written then: “The sacrificial of my Singaporean passport is my last gift to my beloved Singapore and Singaporeans. Hereon, I will also announce that I have decided to stop writing and continue my life in Australia.”
Later, Tan said that STR will continue under the name Singapore Herald and that he will no longer be involved in the running of the website since he has handed it over to an unidentified person who was purportedly a foreigner. The Facebook URL of the States Times Review page was changed to Singapore Herald.
Despite Tan’s declaration that he will not restart STR, several Singaporeans opined that he may go back on his words and return. True enough, Tan is now seeking donations to keep STR running even though the website is still geo-blocked in Singapore. He appealed on Facebook:
“Dear all, I need funding to dedicate more hours to write STR. This election is the last chance we can overturn Lee Hsien Loong before he make himself the next Mentor Minister. We need independent news reports to counter the mainstream propaganda for voters to make informed decisions.
“I know it is a difficult topic asking for donation, but this is necessary. I know everyone wants free news, but this is unsustainable.
“As most of you know by now, I am unable to return to Singapore. I have paid for news freedom to Singaporeans with my very personal freedom to travel and I lost a home I can return to.
“Like many of you, I was born and I grew up in Singapore. But for my ideals, I can’t see my family, friends and people I am close with anymore. I do not appeal for your sympathy, but I am airing this out to let you know there is someone out there who has sacrificed so much for press freedom in Singapore.
“Please assist in my campaign. The election is coming, this is the final battle and let’s take out the PAP together.
“I have been working hard everyday for over 7 years since The Real Singapore, and I believe my daily work has changed the political views of many Singaporeans. Rest assured your contribution is for a better Singapore, and a new Singapore after the PAP era.”
Interestingly, Tan shamed The Online Citizen (TOC) editor Terry Xu for relying on donations to keep his website afloat. Responding to a job listing posted by TOC, Mr Tan advised Mr Xu to“get a full-time professional job and write part-time.” He added:
“I don’t require a single cent of donation from the 10 years I have been writing. I have a young family, a house, a decent stock portfolio and enough money for me to go holiday in Japan each year.
“Look, I even have higher readership than TOC. If I can do it, the average person like you can at least attain half of what I did.
“Why live so miserably? Enjoy your life, enjoy writing and enjoy taking down the PAP. How can you be a leader when you can’t produce benefits for your followers or even the simple act of feeding yourself?”
Mr Xu appeared to take offence. Referring to Mr Tan’s decision to migrate to Australia, Mr Xu responded sharply:“LOL, if TOC writes like you do, it would have been closed down and its editors jailed years ago. Come back to Singapore and do the same thing that you did, and see if you can walk the talk.”
Mr Tan replied: “Hahahah enjoy crawling then. Me not coming come back to Singapore is a choice. You going to jail is not a choice” /TISG