From the title of last Sunday's piece "Why Is Giving So Hard", one would have thought that the elitist rich in Singapore, conscience stricken, had finally decided that philantropy is not a dirty word after all. As in Microsoft co-founder
But when TODAY, 3 Nov 2003, reported on Lee Kuan Yew's recounting of his wife's stroke during a European holiday in 2003, and the outfitting of a Singapore Airlines jet into a flying hospital to ferry her back from London, the paper's Shaun Seow, Mano Sabnani, Rahul Singh, Bachchan Singh and Val Chua were summoned to the Istana for a dressing down. Not exactly the tea party any of them had in mind.
Chief editor Mano Sabnani was demoted. The deputy editor Rahul was demoted to night desk together with the other night editor Bachchan Singh. Val Chua had her press pass withdrawn, and relegated to writing advertising features for DBS and other banks. Only Shaun Seow, being a scholar, was bullet-proofed.
TODAY was told it had crossed the line and its media license will be withdrawn if it writes in such a way as to provoke bad feelings which may lead to public unhappiness. All they did was to quote extensively from Lee's speech at the Jalan Bukit Merah community event and the press release issued by his press secretary, since none were invited onboard the exclusive jet. Or accompanying the family in taking in the sights of London and Europe.
And you thought the Lianhe Wanbao photojournalist was shabbily treated for reporting on the Saturday floods.