The public hearings on the elected presidency were just underway and the Bukit Batok by-elections are coming up. It is no wonder that tensions are high and the press (both online and print, both main stream and alternative) are rigorously busy.
The latest hoo hah has arisen because The Independent Singapore (TISG) has run a story reporting that “a Dr Lee Wei Ling” has signed a petition urging for the Bukit Batok by-election to be run in a dignified and fair manner. (https://theindependent.sg.sg/petition-to-pm-lee-to-stop-attacks-on-chee-a-dr-lee-wei-ling-signed-it/)
The article is clear in stating that it was “a” Dr Lee Wei Ling who signed it. The operative word is “a”.
If the word “a” was not used then it could indicate that it was the PM’s sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling who signed the petition. The word “a” however changes things quite significantly. Given that there may well be others who share the name “Lee Wei Ling” in Singapore, it could just be another Lee Wei Ling that signed the petition! Is the PM’s sister the only Dr. Lee Wei Ling in Singapore? I can’t be sure but somehow, I don’t think so. This would mean that the article by TISG is not inaccurate at all because it has merely reported that “a” Dr. Lee Wei Ling signed the petition which is a fact!
Besides, the article also took great pains to state that “one of the persons who has signed has identified herself as…” This sentence clearly indicates that TISG is not representing that it was indeed the famous Dr. Lee who has signed but that it was just someone who has “identified” herself as that. Try as I might, I cannot see why that has generated the excitement that it has? Unless someone has not bothered to read the article at all?
Certain other publications have taken the opportunity to accuse TISG of not verifying facts etc. But really, is that the case?
I have no dog in this fight but we have to call a spade a spade. Merely reporting that someone named Dr Lee Wei Ling has signed the petition is reporting a fact on the face of things. Someone who called herself Dr Lee Wei Ling did indeed sign the petition! Nowhere in the TISG article did it state that it was THE Dr Lee Wei Ling, sister of PM Lee who signed the article!
In a climate where the online media is clamouring for legitimacy and traction with the wider population of Singapore, online media outlets should not be fighting over small non issues like this. It risks being viewed as sensationalising headlines at best or worst, slovenly reporting – something the alternative media most definitely does not need! But hey, that’s just my opinion!