SINGAPORE: A recent article by the Washington Post “wrongly suggests” that Lianhe Zaobao echoes Beijing’s propaganda, Ambassador to the US Lui Tuck Yew said in a letter to the publication, adding that it was “misguided” for American news outlets to expect Singapore to follow either the US or China.
The letter, made available on the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) website on Saturday (Aug 5), was issued to the editor of the Washington Post in response to its article In Singapore, Loud Echoes of Beijing’s Positions Generate Anxiety.
The article published on Jul 24 said Lianhe Zaobao was “once a reflection of Singapore’s careful neutrality between China and the United States”.
However, it now “routinely echoes some of Beijing’s most strident falsehoods, including denying evidence of rights abuses in Xinjiang and alleging that protests in Hong Kong and in mainland China were instigated by ‘foreign forces’,” said author Shibani Mahtani.
In his Letter to the Editor dated Jul 26, Mr Lui said that Singapore was a multi-racial and multi-religious country.
“Singapore’s mainstream media, including Lianhe Zaobao, reflect our distinct societal concerns, cultural history and perspectives. They report local and global news for Singaporeans and play a crucial role in preserving the voices of our multi-cultural communities.
“In my former role as Singapore’s Ambassador to China, I have often heard its readers of various nationalities affirm Lianhe Zaobao’s balanced coverage and uniquely Singaporean viewpoints. I’m therefore not surprised that Lianhe Zaobao has categorically rejected how it was wrongly portrayed in the article and clearly explained its editorial stance,” he added.
He also wrote that it was “misguided for American news outlets to expect Zaobao to resemble the Washington Post or for Singapore to follow either the US or China”.
Mr Lui added that Singapore’s media and society are unique, and offer “valuable perspectives” that contribute to the global dialogue.
“It bears repeating that Singapore conducts its foreign policy based on our own interests. We do not pick sides but uphold consistent principles.
“This position enjoys strong public support. A July 2022 poll by our Ministry of Communications and Information showed that 86 per cent of Singaporeans felt their government should always act in Singapore’s best interest and not take sides between the US and China.
“Only 4 per cent felt Singapore should lean towards China, and 4 per cent towards the US. This is despite Singaporeans consuming news from a wide variety of sources. In fact, American and British media are by far the main sources of international news consumed by Singaporeans,” said the ambassador.
The Washington Post has not responded to Singapore’s request to publish the ambassador’s letter, said MFA.