In the past few days, some readers have wrote to me with various questions about the incident involving Lee Kin Mun or Mr Brown and Singapore's media regulators. Here is my consolidated response to the questions.
Do you think the column written by Lee was partisan?
Many people have applied various standards in deciding what is partisan. And looking at the standards the media regulators have applied to the word "partisan", many would be partisan!
To reframe this issue, a better question to ask is if the piece by Lee was balanced. To me, a balanced article is one that provide both sides of the story to enable the reader make an informed conclusion. An author can also provide his own thoughts briefly as he concludes. On this basis, I feel that the article in question was not balanced.
What would I have done if I was on the management of MediaCorp?
I would have published Lee's column, not in the Voices section of Today but in a less serious section of the newspaper. For example, this could have gone in Today's humour section since I found the article quite cheeky. I would also not have suspended him.
If this happened in the financial services industry, I would have clarified my regulator's intent for chiding a member of my team and found a win-win solution to the issue. In my dealings with regulators, I have found them to be reasonable people.
Will I stop writing for Today?
I will only stop writing if I feel I have been unfairly managed. I have now been writing for Today for about 4 years, and the newspaper has not given me any cause for complaint. Today has featured views, news and perspectives that one may miss out in other newspapers.
While it has at times incurred the wrath of certain influential persons in society, it is still a credible read. In fact, I like the paper so much I pay $10 every month to ensure the paper is delivered to my house. You should subscribe too!
What is my reaction to a gathering where fans of Lee appeared in brown T-shirts in a public place to highlight their anger about the issue and to support him?
This gathering achieved nothing apart from the unfortunate attention of the police and media mileage - resources which could have put to better use elsewhere.
Wearing the same colour, especially on a Sunday, is also quite boring and like going to school all over again. I know many young people who'd abandon their school uniforms any day so that they can look different!
Plus, the laws governing illegal assembly are very widely crafted in Singapore. In a recent case, the court punished a few persons for appearing in T-shirts which questioned some august institutions in Singapore.
To be more helpful to society and to work within the law, I would have secured the necessary approval to sell brown T-shirts to help raise funds for charity - perhaps in aid of autistic persons or Today's adopted charity - and the Singapore Press Club.
The persons who buy these T-shirts can wear them at home or when they go out, so it looks less like a school uniform.