"NYT pays damages to PM Lee and MM Lee - Thu, Mar 25, 2010 Reuters
THE New York Times (NYT) apologised to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew yesterday, and paid S$160,000 in damages for an article about Asian political dynasties.
An apology in the opinion section of the NYT website said that any inference that Mr Lee Hsien Loong 'did not achieve his position through merit' was unintended.
The article, titled All In The Family, was published on Feb 15 in the International Herald Tribune (IHT), the global edition of the NYT.
The NYT also apologized to Mr. Goh Chok Tong, who succeeded the older Lee as Prime Minister."
Another familiar story and another familiar ending to anyone who made baseless and unsubstantiated claims against the political leaders of Singapore knew in their hearts of hearts as inevitable - almost.
Lessons for me are:
1. NYT wanted to be the protector of freedom of speech and against political dominance and 'unfair' advantages of the established political orders in Singapore. Their late editor, I think, William Safire, had crossed swords with the Lees before and failed miserably. They do not seems to learn their lessons that they really need to substantiate whatever claims they made against Singapore's political leaders. They need to be accountable!;
2. Their manner is a bit crude and ineffective as each time they crossed swords, they are soundly defeated in the court of laws where considered judgement by learned judges could not find any merits in their defense that they spoke the truth with solid evidence and claims! Each time they lost the cases, they loosed their credibility faster and deeper! Without credibility, they cannot claim to be seeking and speaking the truth!;
3. with Carlos Slim, the newly crowned world's richest man by the Forbes Magazine, as NYT's biggest shareholders (preferred shares I think), I don't think he is in a hurry to defend the people who made unsubstantiated claims against the political leaders of Singapore! Perhaps he can hold them to a higher standard of reporting. Report with facts and solid evidence and not innuendo and insinuation.
If you want to stand on high ground and be the dissenting voice or the shining light or lightning rod for change, do your homework. Not all the things done by great leaders are right. Hopefully all are started with good intention and if there were anomalies, they are of innocent unintended consequences!
Let there be criticism and effective feedback based on facts and solid evidence. Let there be true free speech with responsibility!