Home News Featured News Sudhir Vadaketh says BBC journo's experience reveals other biases in society, like...

Sudhir Vadaketh says BBC journo’s experience reveals other biases in society, like how ‘We are supposed to believe that Chan Chun Sing is better than Tharman’

Mr Vadaketh was responding to the issue where a former BBC journalist, called out Mediacorp for alleged biased hiring practices that discriminated against her because of her race and skin colour.

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Singapore — “Are Singaporeans supposed to believe that CNA presenters are better than Sharanjit?

Uh huh. We are also supposed to believe that Chan Chun Sing is better than Tharman.

OK lor.”

Writer Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, in a Facebook post on Thursday (Aug 12), pointed out that an issue that started out about colourism actually served to expose other biases that affect minorities.

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Mr Vadaketh was responding to the issue where Sharanjit Leyl, a former BBC journalist, called out Mediacorp in a radio programme aired on the BBC World Service over the weekend for alleged biased hiring practices that discriminated against her because of her race and skin colour.

She alleged that one of Mediacorp’s editors had said “viewers did not like watching darker-skinned presenters”.

Ms Sharanjit also felt that the statistics cited by Mediacorp in their response were also skewed as she referred in her report to presenters anchoring the English news channel, not reporters or producers.

“This is classic Singaporean doublespeak: relying on supposed market preferences to mask inherent biases, to justify discrimination.

But even if viewers didn’t, so what? Is the national broadcaster supposed to validate prejudice? If viewers didn’t want to watch women, should Mediacorp field an all-male cast?” Mr Vadaketh wrote.

He added: “Singaporeans don’t want an Indian leader, Singaporeans don’t want dark-skinned presenters. Beware those who drink from the same cup, who tell you that they resist Chinese majoritarianism while actually perpetuating it”.

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“In fact, the clearest evidence that Mediacorp does NOT hire purely on merit is in its very snub of Sharanjit Leyl, who subsequently joined the BBC and won numerous plaudits for her work”, Mr Vadaketh wrote.

In response to Ms Sharanjit’s , Mediacorp said on Wednesday (Aug 11) that it was committed to equal opportunities and diversity in hiring.

“Our hiring policies and practices are based on merit, i.e. having the relevant skill sets that the role requires,” said Mediacorp in a statement. Mediacorp added that its dedicated news channel, CNA, has a diverse group of presenters.


Some 30 per cent of CNA news presenters are from minority groups, it said. As for the channel’s documentaries, specials and commissioned programmes which feature a presenter over the past two years, 60 per cent were presented by a person from a minority group.

Across the entire CNA newsroom – including reporters, producers and editors – 40 per cent are from minority groups, the broadcaster added. “This is significantly above the national average,” it said.

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In its statement, Mediacorp also said: “We would like to clarify that Mr Fernandez did not make such a statement”.

“To my recollection, I did not reference race or skin colour at all in our conversation,” Mr Fernandez said.

“What I did speak about was the number of Singaporeans with relevant skill sets who apply to be presenters, the rigorous selection process which includes written and on-camera  as well as interviews with several senior editors. I also made the point that I was not part of the interview panel,” he added. /TISG

Read related: Former BBC journalist calls out Mediacorp for biased hiring practices, claims one of its editors had said “viewers did not like watching darker-skinned presenters”

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