Journalist defends interview with Chee: he really was evasive

March 24th, 2010

A Lianhe Zaobao journalist has shared on Facebook the transcript of her interview with opposition leader Chee Soon Juan, in response to his accusation that she was acting as instrument of “autocratic regime and its controlled media”.

Zaobao had carried Yew Lun Tian’s lengthy interview with Chee on 28 February, pegged to the 30th anniversary of the Singapore Democratic Party. Yew’s story was picked up by The Straits Times.

On 17 March, The Straits Times Forum page carried a letter from Chee slamming the article. “The way that the report is written is clearly an attempt to portray me as being evasive about my income,” he said.

The letter carried a boilerplate reply from the ST Editor: “Our report was based on an article in Lianhe Zaobao. The editor of Zaobao has said that he stands by the article.” Since then, however, the journalist has taken the unusual step of releasing the relevant part of her interview transcript on Facebook.

“Some speculated on ZB‘s motive,” she noted. “I had not receive any instruction from ‘above’ to do this interview. I initiated this interview simply because I think readers are curious about Dr Chee and that the Anniversary presents an appropriate chance to look at the past and future outlook of SDP.”

On her questions about Chee’s income, she said: “Rumours have long been flying around about Dr Chee being bankrolled by foreign money. I feel it is valid to put this to Dr Chee because such rumours may affect his credibility as a politician.”

Why did she imply that Chee’s replies were evasive? “Because they were. I had to ask at least seven times in different ways to get answers. My choice of words ‘When probed several times’ and ‘He replied vaguely’ merely reflected the manner in which he replied.”

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