"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

"It appears that while the PAP government has failed to Confucianise the population, it has indeed Confucianised itself. The epitome of this is in Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's proclaiming that 'Lee Kuan Yew is a modern Confucius' (Straits Times, 24 Apr., 1990)." - Chua Beng Huat, Communitarian ideology and democracy in Singapore 1995

"Calibrated coercion provides journalists with periodic reminders of just who is boss, but also enough leeway to persuade enough of them that there is still a place in Singapore for the professional practice of journalism, and that the space is expanding. Thus, Cheong Yip Seng, editor-in-chief of the Straits Times group, has written that the newspapers have become “a little more confident, assertive, and critical”. In an article entitled “The Singapore Press: How Free, How Credible?”, Cheong acknowledges that the government has “enormous reserve powers over ownership and control of editorial policy”. But he argues that despite a history of poor press relations, the government “does not want a docile press” but “a livelier, more credible press with high professional standards”. Instances of government interference through “telephone calls to influence treatment of news or to reprimand… are much fewer nowadays”, he adds. He takes comfort from the fact that a new generation of political leaders is emerging, who know they need a more credible mass media to communicate with a more sophisticated electorate.

This analysis would be considered standard fare from an SPH editor circa 2005. It was in fact written 24 years earlier, in 1981. That the mixture of realism and hope has hardly changed since then underlines the resilience of the PAP system of press management. Realism dismissed as foolhardy any dream of changing the media system’s wider political framework, while hope reassures journalists that there is a professional role for them even within the current framework."

- Calibrated coercion and the maintenance of hegemony in Singapore, Cherian George (2005)

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