Wei Ling vs Straits Times – the one unanswered question

Lee Kuan Yew would "cringe" at the "hero worship"
Lee Kuan Yew would “cringe” at the “hero worship”

Just a quick note.

In the ongoing saga triggered by a Facebook post from Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter, Lee Wei Ling, the Straits Times editor has responded to charges by Ms Lee that “three successive editors who had worked with her on her past columns were all ‘commanded to edit certain issues out’.”

“This is altogether unfounded,” the Straits Times’ editor, Warren Fernandez, wrote in a note in the paper on Tuesday, 5 April.

As one noted online, it is strange for the editor to write such a note when the paper itself had avoided reporting on the spat, triggered by Ms Lee’s post, between her and the Chief of Government Communications, Janadas Devan.

Ms Lee had accused the paper of wanting to edit out her articles in her column, which she had been writing for for some years. 

Specifically, the particular article in question is one in which she decried the “hero worship” of her father on his death anniversary last month. She said the adulation made her “wince”, and that her father himself would “cringe” at the “level” of knee-bending and prostration from the Lee faithful.

Apparently, she has submitted the article to the Straits Times for her column, but the newspaper refused to publish it.

In his note, Mr Fernandez did not elaborate on what the paper found problematic with her article, or why it had chosen not to publish it.

Mr Fernandez would only say:

“Her recent demand that her latest column be published unedited, after a week of editing and e-mail exchanges, was simply not acceptable.”

Her demand may be “simply not acceptable”, but what about her article was so unpublishable, or not worthy of publication?

In fact, going by the reaction to her article when Ms Lee posted it on her Facebook page, it was quite well received.

To date, there are some 7, 573 shares on it.

Considering that Ms Lee has only 403 friends on the page, the post can be said to have been disseminated quite a bit.

So, actually, if you side-step all the drama, there is only one very simple question for the Straits Times to answer:

Why did it not want to publish Lee Wei Ling’s post about how the “hero worship” of her father made her “wince”, and that her father would himself “cringe” at the “level” of worship?

What was it about the article that the newspaper found so objectionable?

Warren Fernandez’s note does not answer this question.

Now that Ms Lee has published the original, unedited copy of her article, perhaps she should publish the ST-edited version, so that the public can judge for themselves if the edits were justified.

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