Cherian George haters be damned.
By Belmont Lay
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.