mr brown announced on his website this morning that TODAY has suspended his column. He added that “it has been a trying few days for me, my family, my mum and my friends”.
This suspension followed a harsh rebuke that TODAY received from the press secretary to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts on 3 July after the daily had published his piece of political humour satirising some government policies.
This is indeed a sad day for media freedom in Singapore. It is an act of self-censorship by TODAY. There was no need to completely suspend mr brown’s column. At most, TODAY could have avoided publishing political commentaries by mr brown that may offend the Government. By going all the way and suspending mr brown’s column (which more often than not contains benign non-political humour), TODAY has demonstrated its willingness to “go the extra mile” to second guess what they think the Government Ministers want to see.
In any case, this whole saga might backfire on the Government. It has made mr brown an even greater cult hero in Singapore. Within 3 hours of his announcement, his website received over 100 messages of support from Singaporeans who are no doubt overwhelmingly against the actions of TODAY and the Government.