Singapore Media Watch

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Singapore faces blogging ire over militant escape

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's state-controlled media and government have come under fire from critics and Internet bloggers for failing to give the public important answers on the escape of a suspected Islamic militant.

With a cynical eye cast on local newspapers such as the pro-government daily, the Straits Times, critics say media coverage has skirted key issues and so more people were turning to alternatives such as blogs for a differing viewpoint.

"The mainstream media did its job of trying to play down the most shameful part of the incident. It is a blow to Singapore's image as being efficient," Seah Chiang Nee, a political commentator and former Singapore newspaper editor, told Reuters.

"The more Internet savvy would not depend on the mainstream media for news of what's happening in the country, they would go to the Internet," said Seah.
Mas Selamat bin Kastari, the alleged leader of the Singapore cell of al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah, a group blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, escaped on Wednesday last week from the toilet of a detention centre.

Security experts said the escape was embarrassing for a country that prides itself on tight security. The escape sparked an unprecedented manhunt in the small island and a rare apology from the government, who blamed a "security lapse". But few further details of his escape have since been released.

Cherian George, an ex-Straits Times journalist and media lecturer, wrote on the Internet that the Singapore media had not answered the "immediate" question of how Kastari escaped.

"The question is so natural and so obvious that you'd think anyone barely paying attention would ask it. Unless, apparently, one worked for the national news media," George wrote.

Read rest of article here

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