In George we trust

Posted on 26 December 2011

Cherian George haters be damned.

By Belmont Lay

Cherian George has been researching about media ever since "The Internet" was known as "Cyberspace".

In the past few days, a lot of haters have come out to lay the smack down on NTU’s Cherian George.

Why? Because they are unhappy with what they deemed to be Cherian’s unwarranted criticism of The Online Citizen’s lax reporting standards.

Cherian, you see, pointed out that one of TOC’s blogivists applied quotation marks rather luxuriously on Seng Han Thong’s mis-speech on BlogTV, fudging the meaning of what the beleaguered MP actually said and meant.

I don’t know about you, but let me insist on this: Haters, be damned.

Look, Cherian plies his trade as a media academic. It is his right to speak authoritatively, especially about media-related issues, without fear or favour.

If TOC cannot use quotation marks properly, he can tell them to get their shit together and learn how to better punctuate.

No big deal.

Moreover, I am certain that long after this debacle featuring Seng Han Thong is over, I, for one, can still count on Cherian to continue his scholarship in media research and related topics in Singapore.

What can the haters contribute?

It doesn’t take a savant to understand this: Most of Cherian’s scholarship will continue to go towards informing our understanding of policies and politics in Singapore from the media’s perspective.

Plenty of his past work have helped countless students, academics and lay observers appreciate and manoeuvre the profundities of the Singapore system in the media domain and beyond.

Obviously, Cherian’s sagely advice will be dependable in the future when it comes to the media because he has been where almost no one else in this country has been: From going up the ranks in the SPH news room to the hallways of NTU where he lectures and researches from.

His experience is vital. And his comradeship even more so.

Basically, he’s been at it ever since “The Internet” was known as “Cyberspace”.

Last but not least, I definitely can trust Cherian to sustain a logical, principled argument.

It is pretty evident that after three blog posts into discussing his perspective in this messy Seng Han Thong debacle (check out blog posts number 1, 2 & 3), the only things still left standing and intact are Cherian’s principled approach and logical stance.

You will unwittingly notice how the dissenters and haters conspicuously decline in volume in the comments section with each passing post.

To sustain an argument is not so much for Cherian to have the last word.

Rather, it is for him to hone his rationale and methods to ensure they become unimpeachable – long after the haters have dissolved in their own bile.

Because he is, after all, a man with a reputation. A reputation which is a by-product of the good work he has done so far.

You can go take a look for yourselves. The books and articles he has edited and published under his name are for everyone’s scrutiny.

For further proof, observe his blog posts in addressing the haters, public-at-large and even himself.

In his introspective and almost-apologetic-bending-over-backwards concession that he might be “selfish” when dealing with this present issue, he explains thoroughly why he is not siding with TOC or going after the PAP.

And you know why? It is because he steadfastly refuses to turn the tables on whichever of his critics at the moment by employing PAP’s or haters’ tactics of arm-twisting and name-calling.

He simply does not want to mimic the ways of such hardliners that he cannot respect in the first place.

Cherian even writes charitably: “So I treasure truthfulness in politics, and – since I am not seeking votes or eyeballs – would rather lose a battle of words than push an untruth”.

How fucking cool is that?

In comparison, three days in, just where have all his haters gone? (As of now, Dec. 26, 2011, 4 a.m., there are no comments on his third post.) They have neither the intellectual stamina nor fortitude to see through a proper argument.

And I’ve yet to hear a squeak from Sonia Suka, the original blogivist who is credited for breaking the SHT story on TOC.

If you, dear reader, had to take sides in this issue, I have only this advice to offer: Place your bets on whoever is in this for the long term, or even for good.

You should know who to choose by now.

And with regards to TOC? What can be said about them choosing to go head-to-head against Cherian George?

It shows two things:

Their resolve to prove that they are right at the expense of conceding a point is laudable, but their display of pig-headedness is unfortunate.

Because to insist there is outright racism on Seng Han Thong’s part by jumping up and down and crying out loud that there is, the case, nevertheless, is still insurmountably difficult to prove.

Even Alex Au of Yawning Bread pretty much calls it much ado about nothing. (In fact, Au’s exact words are: “…it is difficult to make too much of those words (by Seng Han Thong)”.)

And for TOC to insist on being right on this issue, regardless of what naysayers think, would only solidify the consensus that they have an agenda in going after the PAP.

Whatever political capital they might have accumulated in the days leading up to last week, some of it is inevitably lost in the past few days.

Simply put, for those of us who are not thoroughly convinced of TOC’s point-of-view on this particular matter, their phoniness has been exacerbated.

As with Cherian haters and dissenters, it shall be the same for TOC once this moment has passed.

They’ll be off banging on about some other topic in time to come.

For Cherian, it is back to doing the grunt work. Whatever reputation he has attained inside and outside of academia, will always be a by-product of the consistency of his thinking, research and his even-handedness.

In other words: Cherian will still be around doing what he does best.

And here’s the point of today’s missive: For that reason, I’m counting on him.

With TOC, unfortunately, all bets are off for now.

This post was written by:

- who has written 556 posts on New Nation.

Belmont plays the guitar, made Jamie Yeo sing his song, shook hands with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, swam in the river above Bangladesh, visited Nagaland, outsmarted pickpockets in KL, was the editor of The Campus Observer and worships the writings of Nassim Taleb and Christopher Hitchens. He intends to be an astrophysicist, take up salsa and watch Led Zeppelin live at least once before offing it.

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  • Guest

    I guess you have missed the point totally, Belmont. Apparently you are just taking side to polish Cherian’s boots because New Nation is envy of TOC’s success in comparison to New Nation.

    TOC made the right headline which was a foregone conclusion from watching that video clip. SHT has said as a matter of fact in agreement with whatever quotes he heard from SMRT. Else, he would not go on to point out that it is ok for the staff to use broken English. i.e. if he doesn’t agree that the staff cannot speak proper English, why would he encourage them to use broken English.

    Cherian may have whatever “credibility” or standing as a person or academic, but no one could be above logical reasoning. Apparently Cherian is just trying to defend a friend which actually made his views skewed. So much for the claim of objectivity as a scholar.

    • PS

      You might have missed the point that this is newnation.sg. Take a chill pill.

    • Anonymous

      actually YOU missed the point. TOC says SHT said broken English is an issue. As you yourself pointed it out, SHT said ‘it is ok for the staff to use broken English’. i.e broken english is NOT an issue.

      The mentioning of certain race’s proficiency is a SEPARATE issue. How difficult is that to understand?

  • http://www.facebook.com/yeeloong.ong Yeeloong Ong

    I think everyone here is missing the forest for the trees (or as the way Raja Petra Kamaruddin puts it , the Prophet’s teaching for his wives’ Tudungs) – why are we spending so much time and spewing so much sulphur and brimstone on whether SHT is misquoted or not when the main underlying issue of SMRT’s poor maintenance record leading to continuous disadventures and episodes in breakdown and slowdown was the real issue we should be concerned. Say what you will about the inbred racism that may or may not be prevalent in the minds of the MIW , the fact of the matter is we have a bigger concern about SMRT (and it seems from the episode yesterday the SBS Transit NEL as well ) that has subtly and  eloquently sidelined by the MSM by this issue that is guaranteed to generate hot air but has little tangible and material consequences in reality

  • RedHerring

    MSM or PAP is secretly thanking TOC for this red herring, taking the spotlight away from the SMRT frequent breakdoens.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1663250153 Shah Malinda

    Brave. Very brave of you to stand up for Cherian. Unfortunately, this could very well turn into a TOC vs. New Nation debacle. We can hold each other accountable but, for the betterment of media, let’s not make this ugly? :)

  • 123

    20% article read, i yawned~~~

  • RA

    Typical ball carrier.