|When a columnist becomes a 'partisan player' in politics|
June 30, 2006
Letter from Krishnasamy BHAVANI
Press Secretary to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts
Read column: S'poreans are fed, up with progress! TODAY
YOUR mr brown column, S'poreans are fed, up with progress! (June 30) poured sarcasm on many issues, including the recent General Household Survey, price increases in electricity tariffs and taxi fares, our IT plans, the Progress Package and means testing for special school fees.
The results of the General Household Survey were only available after the General Election. But similar data from the Household Expenditure Survey had been published last year before the election.
There was no reason to suppress the information. It confirmed what we had told Singaporeans all along, that globalisation would stretch out incomes.
mr brown must also know that price increases in electricity tariffs and taxi fares are the inevitable result of higher oil prices.
These were precisely the reasons for the Progress Package to help lower income Singaporeans cope with higher costs of living.
Our IT plans are critical to Singapore's competitive position and will improve the job chances of individual Singaporeans. It is wrong of mr brown to make light of them.
As for means testing for special school fees, we understand mr brown's disappointment as the father of an autistic child. However, with means testing, we can devote more resources to families who need more help.
mr brown's views on all these issues distort the truth. They are polemics dressed up as analysis, blaming the Government for all that he is unhappy with. He offers no alternatives or solutions. His piece is calculated to encourage cynicism and despondency, which can only make things worse, not better, for those he professes to sympathise with.
mr brown is entitled to his views. But opinions which are widely circulated in a regular column in a serious newspaper should meet higher standards. Instead of a diatribe mr brown should offer constructive criticism and alternatives. And he should come out from behind his pseudonym to defend his views openly.
It is not the role of journalists or newspapers in Singapore to champion issues, or campaign for or against the Government. If a columnist presents himself as a non-political observer, while exploiting his access to the mass media to undermine the Government's standing with the electorate, then he is no longer a constructive critic, but a partisan player in politics.