Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, with close to $1 billion of Government funding for SMT committed over the next five years, how will the Government assure Singaporeans that SMT’s content will not be tainted by allegations of political interference?
Mrs Josephine Teo: Mr Speaker, firstly, the Government has committed to set aside up to $180 million dollars annually over the next five years. And I want to emphasise this: up to $180 million dollars. What is actually going to be disbursed will depend on the specific investments that SMT makes, through their progress updates to MCI, whether we are satisfied that these are the right things to do and that they will produce or they have the likelihood of producing good results. So, it is up to $180 million annually and, therefore, up to $900 million over five years.
I am actually not so surprised that Mr Pritam Singh put this question up. And if I may, Mr Pritam Singh’s question, again asking about influence on editors, journalist, is too predictable, if I may put it this way. His question seems to suggest that he does not trust the journalists and our mainstream media to be objective in reporting, to apply their minds and to be discerning or to have a sense of responsibility to truthful reporting for the public. I hope I am wrong in thinking that this is what Mr Pritam Singh is suggesting, but that is what came to mind when he spoke those words.
Regardless of what I say or what Mr Pritam Singh may suggest, the true test is whether the public trusts the media and how they exercise their choice on a day-to-day basis in consuming news media, when so many alternatives are available to them at zero cost. And, fortunately for us, for all of us, our local mainstream media are trusted by people and we have every reason to keep it so.
Ministry of Communications and Information
15 February 2022