Give Seah Chiang Nee a break

Posted on 12 January 2012

And everybody just calm down!

By Belmont Lay

About a week ago, veteran Malaysia-based Singaporean journalist Seah Chiang Nee opined in an editorial piece published on Yahoo! that the mood within the PAP is turning sour after salary cuts were proposed.

As far as anyone is concerned, what was written is pretty much Chiang Nee’s personal opinions.

This, in my parlance, pretty much means that he pulled it out of his ass.

Yesterday, Singapore’s High Commissioner to Malaysia refuted Chiang Nee by saying he was being sloppy with his facts, what he claims are contradictions and he shouldn’t be quoting anonymous sources for his piece in the first place.

Erm… I don’t know why everybody is getting so heckled. But let’s just put it this way.

Nobody would ransack a trash can to look for a steak, some truffles and a bottle of 1985, right?

So why’d you insist on going onto the Internet expecting everything you read and watch to be top notch, fair, balanced and accurate?

I know you’d want all the articles, music and movies you get off the Web to be pristine, high quality, educational, entertaining, and up-to-date.

Yet seriously, you wouldn’t be willing so much as to pay a cent for much of the content because you’d rather prefer to download them for free from ether.

What I’m trying to say – don’t get me wrong – isn’t so much about getting what you paid for.

Rather, what I’m insisting is that you have a choice. A choice to tune out, or a choice to carry on consuming.

The movie you’re downloading is not high resolution enough? Simply close the window.

You’re dying of boredom reading a pointless or biased article? Go to the book shop and purchase some real literature then.

Since Chiang Nee’s opinions are free, and you weren’t coerced to read it, why feel so concerned jumping up and down getting all ape shit about it?

Because you want to warn other more gullible people not to fall for it?


Look, Chiang Nee writes for a wide audience. Really, really wide.

He has been in this journalism business for decades.

I will always assert that Chiang Nee writes for people who can only comprehend the literal meaning of his words and also for those who can read between the lines.

If you are of the disposition to latch on to every word he has to say because you are quite convinced he is authoritative like a God, good for you.

If you’re skeptical, exercise your critical faculties. Take it with a pinch of salt.

I’ve never met Chiang Nee before. But based on what others have told me about him and from reading his articles, it’s not hard to imagine a wrinkly old man with hair growing out of his ears gingerly pounding away on his word processor.

This means he is probably in his 70s now. And if you’re that age, going out onto the street to get quotes from people so you can finish your missive might be a bit of a chore, you know.

And if you’ve read his articles on Yahoo! that are adapted from his blog, you’d be familiar with the fact that he is wont to use anonymous sources for quotes.

That is basically breaking the one major rule no journalist should ever break. Yet he does it. He commits the cardinal sin. It is the equivalent of incest.

What does that tell you?

It wouldn’t be hard imagining him making stuff up and attributing them to people that don’t exist at all.

And I know well that he knows only too well about how to put a point across because that is what he wants to do with his writing: Convince you.

And for the last time, Chiang Nee is writing a column filled with his own opinions.

If you dig it, read. If not, go to sleep. Or fly a kite.

And the fact that he can’t spell “tumultuous” properly is a good indication that he can only be at best, a semi-skilled propagandist.

So why so serious, folks?

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