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    Jan 15, 2014

    Govt objects to NYT riot editorial

    THE Government has objected to a New York Times editorial on the Little India riot, saying yesterday that when Singapore's ambassador to the United States wrote in to set out the facts, the Times "prevaricated" and refused to publish the letter.

    On Dec 28, the Times ran a piece titled "Singapore's Angry Migrant Workers", which suggested that the riot was due to "frustration among Singapore's unappreciated and underpaid migrant workers (which) has been building in recent years".

    It went on to say that migrant workers are paid as little as S$2 an hour, and that most live in crowded dormitories.

    Yesterday, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said that Singapore's ambassador to the US, Mr Ashok Mirpuri, wrote to the Times a few days after the commentary.

    He stated in his letter that the editorial had offered "scant evidence" that the riot was due to frustration over wages and living conditions, and said the rioters were employed by different employers and stayed in different dormitories.

    The fact that the riot took place on the workers' day off in a congregation area for recreation, and did not spread to dorms nor workplaces, proved that the Times' point was "thus most unlikely", he added.

    The MCI said that instead of publishing his letter, the Times "prevaricated and raised fresh objections each time their previous objections were met".

    The ministry said the newspaper had objected to the ambassador saying it had been mistaken in its facts, and refused to allow him to suggest that the paper was mistaken in its analysis of the riot's causes.

    It added: "The New York Times, like any other newspaper, is entitled to express its own opinions. But when it suppresses rejoinders that express a contrary view, and show that the Times is mistaken, it gives the lie to its claim to champion freedom of speech and the truth."