“The Workers Party won’t win East Coast GRC”

ST Deputy News Editor Aaron Low wrote an article today (‘GE 2015: Just how hot are things over in East Coast GRC?’, 5 Sep) suggesting that WP won’t win East Coast GRC in the GE, which is slated to be held on Sep 11.

Mr Low acknowledged that East Coast GRC is the hot constituency of 2015, much like Aljunied GRC in 2011. He noted that WP is sending its second best team, not its “A” team to East Coast.

He questioned if East Coast is really a tough fight for PAP this time. He thinks WP is “swimming against the tide”.

“Is it really? The numbers seem to suggest that while it may be a hard battle, WP is swimming against the tide,” the ST editor said.

“For one thing, Fengshan, which was originally part of East Coast in 2011, has been amputated from the GRC after electoral boundaries were redrawn. WP is said to have scored the highest in Fengshan in 2011, causing analysts to say its carving out was a way of saving East Coast from falling to the WP.”

Secondly, Mr Low argued that WP is not sending its “A” team to East Coast this time, unlike Aljunied in 2011.

“This is the idea that if voters voted for PAP there (in Aljunied), they would be voting out not just the top opposition leaders in Mr Low Thia Khiang, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Chen Show Mao but also possibly leaving Singapore bereft of any opposition at all. The vote in Aljunied swung by 10.8 percentage points against the PAP,” he explained.

This is not the situation in East Coast in this GE.

Mr Low didn’t think that even with a nation swing against PAP, it’s unlikely for East Coast to fall.

“The PAP has done quite a bit to fix some of the problems that lost the party votes in 2011,” Mr Low argued for PAP.

“Housing prices have moderated; foreign worker growth has fallen, although it is still a sore issue for some voters. Transport will require a long-term solution but the Government is boosting the number of buses and trains to add capacity.”

Also, Mr Low noted that PAP has been more prepared for the fight in East Coast than it was in 2011 for Aljunied.

“After the last GE, it was clear WP was ascendant and that they would target East Coast next. Mr Lim (Swee Say) said PAP has been preparing for this GE in East Coast since the last election, and it shows,” he said.

He noted that PAP has listed a number of improvement works in East Coast. So, Mr Low concluded that the PAP has worked to solve problems at the municipal level.

Another ST journalist Tham Yuen-C, the Assistant Political Editor, also echoed what his colleague Aaron Low wrote about WP today.

Mr Tham in his article, ‘WP hoping for a breakthrough on third contest here’, commented, “In East Coast GRC, it (WP) hopes to get lucky on its third try.”

ST editors ‘groomed’ by PAP Govt

According to WikiLeaks [Link], an ST Bureau Chief in U.S. once told a member of the American Embassy in Singapore that reporters are frustrated with the obstacles they face in reporting on sensitive domestic issues. They have to be careful in their coverage of local news, as Singapore’s leaders will likely come down hard on anyone who writes negatively about the government or its leadership.

The ST Bureau Chief disclosed that there is a growing disconnect between ST’s reporters and its editors, with the reporters wanting to do more investigative and critical stories than the editors would allow. He lamented that the ST editors have all been groomed to be pro-government supporters and are careful to ensure that reporting of local events adheres closely to the official line. He observed that none of the editors has the courage to publish any stories critical of the government.

He also revealed that the government exerts significant pressure on ST editors to ensure that published articles toe the government’s line. For example, ministers routinely call ST editors to ensure that media coverage of an issue comes out the way they want it. He said that no editors have been fired or otherwise punished for printing articles critical of the government because all of them have already been vetted to ensure their pro-government leanings. The ST Bureau Chief even conceded that he would likely never advance higher up the ladder at ST due to the ‘expectations’ placed on editors.

Another ST reporter also confirmed that most censorship is done by the editors. She was rather discouraged with life as a Singapore journalist and wondered if she would stay in the profession for long.

Do you agree with ST Deputy News Editor Aaron Low’s suggestion that WP won’t win East Coast GRC this time?

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