Saturday, December 14, 2013

I want curry

Friends, Singaporeans, countrymen (and that includes countrywomen), lend me your ears. I write not to bury the dying but to comment on those who would seek to muzzle the tongue. I speak, of course, of the Breakfast Network (BN) ceasing to publish because it does not want to play ball with the Media Development Authority's (MDA) requirement for it to register itself. This, so I read, includes the onerous task of filling up a registration form. But more than this, the Breakfast Network, if appears, refuses to list its group of editors and occasional writers (this last was corrected by the MDA as not a requirement) by name. We learn that by refusing to comply, they will have to shut their doors,, including their Facebook page.

Ms Bertha Henson, who appears to be helming the BN, is not unknown in the journalistic circles in Singapore. According to her bio that can still be found online, she has been with Singapore Press Holdings since 1986, holding various positions such as Acting Editor of the New Paper and editor in  charge of journalism training programmes of English and Malay papers.. I don't personally know her, but her body of work suggests that she is no lightweight in journalism circles in Singapore.

Thus it came as a surprise that the erstwhile  establishment figure is now fighting a battle with the media supremos in Singapore. For now, she appears to have given up the fight. When a hundred pound gorilla wants to block your way, you don't rush head-on. You'd only damage your brain, with nothing much else to show for it. This is the first time I have heard of this altercation, and about the Breakfast Network. So I do not know if the BN will spout nonsense, or offer a credible voice on and about Singapore. I don't even know if it will be aligned with the powers that be, or the ones on the other side of the political divide, or even be a fence sitter. But one thing is certain - it operates within the sphere of social political commentary and she has written about things that may have caused the authorities to squirm in their seats. You see, the authorities don't like to squirm, if they can help it. In any case, a voice has been silenced. The MDA insists that it is not muzzling the voice of Singaporeans. It says that so long as certain rules are complied with, you can proceed to put out commentary and write about Singapore all you want - short of defaming people and engaging in too much negativity that may cause foreigners to think that Singapore is going to the dogs.

Now if Ms Henson had just restricted her website to issues of cooking in the kitchen, she would have been able to spew some oil and add some spice and honey when discussing her cooking in the kitchen. Then we can all have a party.

See: Media bias

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