Friday, October 05, 2007

On "Myanmar Peace Awareness Day" -- Same Event, Different Coverages

As some of you all may already be aware, yesterday, the "Myanmar Peace Awareness Day", an event initiated by students of local universities to display their concern over the situation in Myanmar and to heighten awareness of this situation amongst their fellow students, was held on the campuses of the 3 local universities i.e. NUS, NTU and SMU.

However, as I was not an active participant of this event (though I knew about the event beforehand and wore something red when I went to school yesterday), I can't and won't go much into what exactly transpired yesterday during the event. Instead, I will be talking about the local media coverage accorded to this event.

Firstly, I would like to talk about the lack of pre-event coverage about this event in the local mass media. I mean, though I won't deny that I may have missed some of the news articles and/or clips having pre-event coverage of this event, the only pre-event news about this event which I could find in the local mass media were these articles from Today and Lianhe Zaobao (note: in fact, since I did not obtain a copy of Today on 2/10/2007, I only found out about the event from the latter article on Wednesday) As for the Straits Times & CNA, I was not able to find any pre-event coverage of the event.

Moving on, though there was more post-event coverage of the event, it seemed to me that, comparing the amount of coverage in today's newspapers, there was more detailed coverage in Lianhe Zaobao than in the Straits Times. While Lianhe Zaobao had a photo-caption story about the event on its frontpage and a more detailed half-page article about it on page 8, the Straits Times, in its print edition, only had a photo-caption story about the event on page 6 amidst other articles about the Myanmar situation. Of course, in all fairness, I must say that the Straits Times, on its website, have another article (note: this article, however, was acquired from the Associated Press and not one reported by Straits Times reporters) and a video news clip about the event. The same can be said for CNA which, as far as I know, only briefly mentioned about the event in an article about how Myanmar nationals residing in Singapore and Singaporeans are petitioning to end the violence in Myanmar.

Hmm... Perhaps it is due to my ignorance about the actual inner workings of the local media but I cannot fathom why there is such a stark contrast in the manner and amount of coverage between Lianhe Zaobao (i.e. the local Chinese media) on the one hand & the Straits Times, together with CNA, (i.e. the local English media) on the other hand. I mean, if one only look at the post-event coverage done by the local English media (at least the coverage available in printed form), it would seem that the "Myanmar Peace Awareness Day" was a non-event while one would get a totally different picture from the coverage done by the local Chinese media. Why was this so? Was it perhaps an effort to downplay the significance of the event? To continue perpetuating the conventional perception that Singaporeans, especially local youth, are apolitical & apathetic to current affairs? I wonder.

Anyway, doing a random online search for post-event coverage about the event, I managed to come across a series on articles about the event done by The Ridge (Online) and The Campus Observer, which are both publications done by NUS students. Hmm... Even student publications are providing more coverage than the local English media?


I found the post-event coverage of the "Myanmar Peace Awareness Day" done by Lianhe Zaobao (see above) to be quite comprehensive. Thus, I think I would, partly to allow those of you all who do not understand Mandarin to read the article, provide a translation of it in my next post.

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