An Open Letter to TOC in Response to Their Removal of My Article “Where Have The Reserves Gone”
Last Thursday, I was contacted by several readers who asked me why my article “Where have our reserves gone?” had disappeared from TOC. This alone was alarming and unusual but TOC compounded the problem by failing to put up any note by way of explanation for the article’s sudden disappearance.
When TOC did finally respond to my queries, Mr. Pillai informed me that the article had been taken down after “one of the other editors” had received a call. Apparently this call was a tip off from Temasek Holdings advising that legal action was going to be taken against me because they objected to the term ‘Ponzi Scheme.’
This is not a criticism of Mr. Pillai whom I have always found to uphold the highest standards of editorial transparency and impartiality. However who is this unknown editor and why should we believe a word of this unlikely tale until the editor in question comes forward and identifies himself? It could just be professional jealousy and a likely story to get my article removed. I have been further informed by Mr Pillai that a lawyer is reviewing the article. No need, just consult with me and then remove the sub heading, ‘Ponzi Scheme’ if it is offensive. Removing that phrase doesn’t alter the meaning or harm the article one bit.
I entered a good faith agreement with TOC. I allow you to take my articles wholesale off my blog and allow you the special privilege of not having to comply with the copyright conditions which normally apply. This works both ways. You gain content and whilst I lose reader stats, my pieces reach a far wider audience in cooperation with TOC. However that good faith is broken when you remove my article with no warning, consultation nor explanation.
The alleged conversation that your editor had or did not have with Temasek remains pure hearsay. I myself have received no communication from Temasek or anyone else. Temasek Review Emeritus are also running the article and have received no objections. If Temasek Holdings did indeed contact you then it is a matter of great interest and needs to be aired. My article continues to remain up on my blog at http://sonofadud.com/2012/09/07/where-have-our-reserves-gone/
My readers and your readers expect TOC to uphold its status as an alternative source of news and opinion. We certainly expect you to keep us informed. I therefore am writing to you an open letter asking you to confirm the identity of the editor and the contents of the phone call. As a blog with aspirations to be an important independent media site for Singapore, I believe that your readers should be kept informed if you have actually bowed to clandestine political pressure to censor the contents of your website.
Meanwhile the summary removal of my piece has damaged my reputation suggesting as it does that I would write material that was defamatory and untrue. It goes to the heart of my credibility. This affair is all too reminiscent of what happened over my letter to the Wall Street Journal about the PAP’s continued use of defamation laws to silence criticism. When MICA published a rebuttal most news sites in Singapore, even the so-called alternative ones, removed my letter and replaced it with the MICA letter. Even though no legal action was threatened or mentioned by MICA. And how could they take legal action? After all I was right and they were wrong. By bowing to partisan political pressure and succumbing to the climate of fear, I was instead denied the right of reply and readers were denied the benefit of having both letters in order to compare and draw their own conclusions. That is exactly how self -censorship damages freedom of expression.
Similarly, in this instance you surely do a disservice to your readers and help to perpetuate the climate of fear by refusing to come forward and provide the details of this alleged conversation. By removing the article with no explanation you become the source of gossip and fear when you could be cutting a swathe through it.