NYTimes Has To Apologize, Pay $114k For Mentioning Singapore Had Father/Son Prime Ministers?

from the say-what-now? dept

The NY Times published an odd sort of "apology" last week, which is now getting a bunch of attention on Twitter:
In 1994, Philip Bowring, a contributor to the International Herald Tribune's op-ed page, agreed as part of an undertaking with the leaders of the government of Singapore that he would not say or imply that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had attained his position through nepotism practiced by his father Lee Kuan Yew. In a February 15, 2010, article, Mr. Bowring nonetheless included these two men in a list of Asian political dynasties, which may have been understood by readers to infer that the younger Mr. Lee did not achieve his position through merit. We wish to state clearly that this inference was not intended. We apologize to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong for any distress or embarrassment caused by any breach of the undertaking and the article.
There's so much that's bizarre in this short paragraph that it's difficult to know where to start. But, what may be even more bizarre is what the NY Time's apparently left out. According to other reports, the NY Times also paid $114,000 to the father and son (and to a lawyer representing both). Either way, this whole thing is very odd. Why would a reporter for a respectable publication ever agree not to give an opinion on something? And why would the NY Times' cave for merely stating that having a father and son both as prime minister's represents something of a dynasty?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 6:41pm

    So they are extortionist nepotistic prime ministers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    mrtraver (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 7:23pm

    Re:

    Good thing you posted anonymously, or they would sue you, too!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 7:31pm

    Re: Re:

    And mike would out you, if he, in his infinite wisdom, peace be upon him and all that, deemed it to be newsworthy....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    NullOp, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 7:39pm

    ?

    Who effing cares!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    justok (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 7:54pm

    Dynasty may mean more than just winning the last two world series

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 8:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And mike would out you, if he, in his infinite wisdom, peace be upon him and all that, deemed it to be newsworthy....

    Hey now, we said no such thing. In fact, I said the opposite.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 8:09pm

    So the lawyer got $110,000 and the extortionist nepotistic prime ministers split $4000. Sweet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Bob Bunderfeld (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 8:13pm

    This is that Country!

    Isn't this the Country that actually Jails writers of all types if they ever say anything negative or bad about the Prime Minister?

    I believe 60 minutes did a piece on a Writer that wrote a book that apparently spoke ill of the Prime Minister and when he arrived in the Country he was promptly arrested and taken before the Prime Minister so he could grovel and apologize for his misgivings and beg to be forgiven.

    Strange place indeed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    diesel mcfadden, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 8:26pm

    Singapore has very strict defamation laws and strong media control.
    IHT violated.

    http://www.democracyweb.org/rule/singapore.php
    search text for "slander"

    http://www.search.com/reference/Slander_and_libel#Singapore_law

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 8:53pm

    singapore is a tiny little red dot in asia that badly wants to be taken seriously, which is why they jump at the chance to sue anyone who dare say they ain't a democracy but are just a dictatorship.

    they got tons of money, but everyone laughs at them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Ray Trygstad (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 10:04pm

    This is consistant!

    Having spent a fair amount of time in Singapore, I can tell you that anything negative written about the government of Singapore by the press anywhere outside of Singapore is considered to be "external interference in the political process of Singapore". They will block distribution of any publication that has committed this offense; in the 80's I saw them do this to Time Magazine. The NY Times may view this market as important enough to preserve their distribution rights by an apology.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Guy Fawkes, Mar 29th, 2010 @ 10:24pm

    Singapore and defamation

    The People's Action Party, the ruling party with 82 out of 84 seats in Parliament, has a standard weapon to use against dissidents. If you are so unwise as to win a seat in parliament, or make disparaging comments, you will be sued into bankruptcy. Singapore still uses the old, English-style, defamation laws in which truth and public benefit are not a sufficient defense. If you expose a member of the PAP as corrupt or incompetent you can be successfully sued since your comments, although true, can cause damage because the person may lose an election. Once bankrupt you are no longer eligible to sit in Parliament.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Nick Coghlan (profile), Mar 29th, 2010 @ 10:36pm

    That's like saying...

    ...Dubya only became president because his fath... oh, wait...

    (Obvious joke is obvious, but I couldn't resist)

    On a more serious note, this definitely seems like a classic case of the Streisand effect. I wouldn't even have been able to tell you who the Singaporean prime minister was, let alone that there was a suspicion that he only got the job through paternal influence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Headbhang (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 2:36am

    Re: Spoing

    Gotta love the irony that the apology itself highlights the likely nepotism even more than the original article itself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:18am

    William Gibson called Singapore "Disneyland with the Death Penalty." And Wired got banned in Singapore.

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/1.04/gibson.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 30th, 2010 @ 4:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh relax, I'm just messing with you...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 6:00am

    Gumshoe Fascist

    -->You there....Swallow your gum.
    We wouldn't want his majesty, King Lee, the Second, to get it stuck on his shoe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Spanky, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 7:25am

    re

    Illegitimate, perhaps? My sister, my daughter, my sister,...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Which is why I was glad..., Apr 5th, 2010 @ 8:14pm

    Re: That's like saying...

    Imagine if Hilary Clinton became president. If so, then the US could have had a 2-family dynasty for 28 years!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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