28 January 2013

MediaCorp and Punggol East By-Election Finale

Friday, 25 January was the day preceding the Punggol East by-election.  As canvassing was prohibited on that day and on polling day, what was said by the contesting political parties up to 11:59 p.m. on 24 January was the last word.  It was left to the media to present their reports.

Let's see what happened.

TODAY published a generous coverage of People's Action Party's by-election campaign in the first three (non-advertisement) pages on 25 January with the following headlines:
▪ PAP has always worked to improve S'poreans' lives: PM Lee
▪ Coming up: more sheltered linkways for commuters[1]
▪ PAP upholding its purpose, objectives and integrity: PM
▪ I want to stand up and be counted, says PAP's Koh
The Workers' Party had half of page 6 with the headline:
▪ 9-day campaign was challenging: WP's Lee

The Reform Party had about two-thirds of page 8 with the headline:
▪ RP's Jeyaretnam lashes out at WP

Singapore Democratic Alliance had the remaining about one-third of page 8 with the headline:
▪ You need a third voice in Parliament: SDA's Desmond Lim

Did TODAY think that Ms Lee Li Lian's comment that the 9-day campaign was challenging was the highlight of the entirety of what she said?

News Now
During the half-hour News Now programme at 9 a.m. and again at 10 a.m. on 25 January, Channel News Asia broadcast an approximately 4½ minute report on PAP's final rally the previous evening, including excerpts of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's speech there.  Perhaps, the TV station thought that PM Lee was speaking in his capacity as prime minister, rather than as PAP secretary-general at a political rally with a PAP badge on his shirt.  No coverage was given to the three opposition parties.

Evening News
The evening news on both Channel 5 and Channel News Asia presented a report on the four parties contesting the by-election.  The report on The Workers' Party lasted about 48 seconds, that on Singapore Democratic Alliance lasted about about 36 seconds (including a few seconds of comments that applied to all parties generally), and that on The Reform Party lasted about 53 seconds.  The report on PAP lasted about 160 seconds — longer than those for the three opposition parties combined.  Did MediaCorp somehow think that this was a general election in which, in the past, it was entitled to the giant's share of airtime?

Furthermore, if MediaCorp thought it should provide its audience with a summary of each party's by-election platform, wouldn't it have been better had it organised a political party broadcast and given each party the opportunity to state its case?

And, was it fair to The Reform Party's Kenneth Jeyaretnam to say that he "claimed" that his family had received threats?  According to the dictionaries, to claim is to assert in the face of possible contradiction (Merriam-Webster online) or to state to be true, especially when open to question (The Free Dictionary).  Mr Jeyaretnam did make a police report.

Results News
On Sunday 27 January, Channel News Asia's Dylan Loh reported that Ms Lee had received "about 54 per cent" of the vote, trimming 0.52 percentage points off her actual percentage of 54.52 per cent.

At the same time, Mr Loh reported that Dr Koh had received "nearly 44 per cent" of the vote, adding 0.29 percentage points to his actual percentage of 43.71 per cent.

Perhaps, Mr Loh should take a remedial course in basic math on how numbers should be rounded.


1. Although the Minister for Transport did not make the announcement at a Punggol East by-election rally or in Punggol East constituency, the extension to the linkways was part of the slew of Government initiatives and measures announced in the 2-3 weeks leading to the by-election.


  1. the best part is.... they still lost.
    so chill... =)

  2. Well, being a progressive for the win isn't a good long-term strategy.

    Philippine Senate Election by Inquirer