15 July 2006

When the puppet speaks to the master

There was a striking headline in the Straits Times on 14 July 2006. "Where are the political cartoons today?" it asked. To whom was that question posed? And what might it be telling us about the dynamics between the government and its media? Full essay.


Lau Min-tsek said...

Excellent analysis.

I wanted to blog about the lack of satirical political cartoons a while back when the Mr Brown saga started and has been collecting cartoons from the ST for the past 2 weeks.

Looks like ST beat me to it! Ironical, isn't it, that ST chose to expose its own failings.

But the real scoop is your article. Either your analysis is spot on, or the ST is so out of touch with reality that it does not even realise that it is criticising itself.

Anonymous said...

no doubt the individual journalists in SPH/Mediacorp find the recent events embarrassing; however, the strength of the system lies in being able to mobilize diverse people in a common direction, with just an occasional rap on the knuckle, like the mr brown case, to keep them in line; it takes a great skill to achieve this

Anonymous said...

/// So the Straits Times must know it was tapping on OB markers. ///

If there is one phrase that is most misused and abused, it is "OB markers" in the context of Singapore politics.

The whole idea of having OB markers on the golf course is just so that golfers know where not to hit their balls. These OB markers are colour coded just so that golfers know precisely how many strokes they will be penalised if they hit their balls out of bound.

In the local political context, the OB markers are invisible. Worse still, they are moveable. One only knows whether the OB markers are when one touches on something which is deemed unfavourable to the authority or paint the govenment in bad light.

Anonymous said...

the invisibility and the movability part of the power of the establishment; they decide the content of the political discourse as need to, what is permitted and what is not, as they see fit

Anonymous said...

I believe they have total control over the local media, do not be fool into thinking that things are opening up because of such self criticizing articles. It is published because it is allowed to be published.

SneeringTree said...

I am still waiting for the good minister to explain what he meant by "national strategy".

Anonymous said...

what the government decides yesterday, today, tomorrow, is national strategy

teck soon said...

In mainland China, any reference to the Taiwanese government or president always includes quotation marks, to pound the point that Taiwan is part of China, regardless of how twisted it looks. The Taiwan "lawmakers" and the Taiwan "president" are, in other words, illegitimate.

I suggest we start using the same strategy when referring to writers for the local newspapers. Let's call them "journalists" and "reporters" with quotation marks, lest anyone think they are really journalists and not propagandists.

Any "journalist" writing an article that forces us to hone our skills in reading between the lines is a coward. Without these "journalists" in Singapore, there would be no "news"paper to brainwash the population.

I am a coward too, for being anonymous. But then again, I don't claim to be a "journalist".

Alan Tan said...

When one played by the rules, was in the fairway is being penalised OB, what can one say of the rule of the game? Confusing. I refer to Today's and Mr. Brown's dilemma. Today's editors allowed MB's article to be publised showed that they have had no issues with the truth and non-partisanship of MB. In fact the bak chok mee turkwa episode was more damaging to PAP. Yet, many ministers said they even laughed over it. Evidently, it was not considered OB. The question remains "who decides OBs"?

Anonymous said...

they did not like the video, and many thought at the time mr brown would get scolded, but they decided to let it go and put on a brave face of enjoying it, because everyone already thought there was too much sledgehamming of that little nut; the hammer was kept for the next nut that came along where the content was more clearly political and not humour

politics is not mathematics; "right" and "wrong" are decide by the person in power, not by fixed formula

Anonymous said...

give the writer of the article some credit for the way he has been presented it..and so to, to ST too for publishing this article in the light of the "brown saga".

some of you are thinking too highly of yourself if you even seriously imagined that the editors allowed criticism of itself to rear its head..