PMO defends letters to media
IT IS completely "in order" for civil servants to correct misrepresentations about the country, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) indicated yesterday.
It strongly stood by the decision to reply to articles that appeared recently in The Economist and the South China Morning Post.
"When aspersions are cast on the integrity of the prime minister and his government's policies, an official reply from the PM's press secretary is completely in order," it said.
The statement was in response to media queries questioning the propriety of recent letters to the news outlets by the PM's press secretary, Chang Li Lin, and the Singapore consul-general in Hong Kong, Jacky Foo.
Both letters were published.
"This is no different from what press secretaries in most other governments do," the PMO said.
On June 13, The Economist's blog, Banyan, which discusses current affairs in Asia, published an article about blogger Roy Ngerng, who is being sued for defamation by PM Lee.
In response to the article, Ms Chang wrote: "You referred to an "alleged 'serious libel' by Roy Ngerng. This is not an allegation. Mr Ngerng has publicly admitted accusing Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister, of criminal misappropriation of pension funds, falsely and completely without foundation."
The "aspersion" in question in the South China Morning Post came from a June 9 article detailing an open letter to PM Lee from Singaporean writer Catherine Lim.
In her letter, Dr Lim claimed that Singaporeans "no longer trust their Government and the Government no longer cares about regaining their trust".
The article also quoted Dr Lim saying that the defamation suit against Mr Ngerng will "further erode trust".
In response to that, Mr Foo wrote: "On the contrary, Mr Lee acted because the Government prizes integrity as the ultimate source of the trust it enjoys."
Mr Foo also pointed out that Dr Lim continues to "regularly bemoan a collapse of trust and respect for the Government", since her first such claim in 1994, despite the ruling party's performance and victories.
Addressing Mr Foo's response, the PMO said: "When a foreign newspaper carries an article with misrepresentations about Singapore, it is important that our diplomatic representative defend Singapore's interests by correcting misrepresentations and providing a balanced view."