Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Dr. James Gomez at JBJ memorial event -- A case of selective reporting?

Yesterday, a memorial event was held at the Speakers' Corner for the late Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam (JBJ), in conjunction with what would have been Jeyaretnam's eighty-fourth birthday.

At the memorial event, several speakers spoke, one of whom was Dr. James Gomez. Towards the end of his speech, Dr. Gomez updated the audience that he is no longer a member of the Workers' Party (WP) and that he and others have applied to form a new political association.

However, today, local news reports found in the mainstream media seem to focus more on Dr. Gomez no longer being a WP member and the trouble he got into during the 2006 General Election, instead of the JBJ memorial event which he was speaking at. Although the news reports did mention that Dr. Gomez revealed his lapsed status as a WP member in a speech he made at the JBJ memorial event, it was most evident, especially from how they were titled, that the news reports were more concerned about Dr. Gomez's lapsed status as a WP member. One would easily miss the mention in the news reports that there was a JBJ memorial event if one read them too quickly.

Contrast this with The Online Citizen's (TOC) coverage of the JBJ memorial event (see above). TOC not only provided a report of the happenings at the event but also the full speeches of three of the speakers who spoke at the event.

It is also rather interesting how the news reports did not make any mention of Dr. Gomez's application to form a new political association in Singapore, especially when this was mentioned in the same speech in which he revealed that he is no longer a WP member.

As "Alice" would put it, "curiouser and curiouser!"


In his speech, Dr. Gomez also mentioned the following:

My first direct contact with JBJ was in 1988 when as President, of the Philosophy Society and a first year undergraduate at NUS, I invited him to speak on Political Freedoms in Singapore on campus – it was 21 years ago. NUS had a set of bureaucratic procedures that had to be negotiated if you wanted to invite opposition figures to speak on campus. These bureaucratic processes do not make inviting opposition parties representatives onto campus easy.
At the same time, the main challenge was staff members and fellow undergraduates who practiced self-censorship and tried to undermine or withdraw support when inviting opposition figures on to campus to speak. Nevertheless the few of us involved in the organization of this talk succeeded, and JBJ spoke to a full house at Lecture Theatre 11 and the talk was reported on the front page of the NUS student union newspaper.

I find the above interesting as I cannot help but wonder if, today, any head of a student society in NUS or any other local educational institution will invite an opposition party leader to speak at an event. (cf. the "Men in White" forum organised by the NUSPSSoc and the question made by a NUSPA member at a recent event co-organised by TOC and Talk Politics All Night Long)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes I had the same thoughts as you. Anyway its good that he left WP.

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