TRS OFFICIAL RESPONSE TO MP ZAQY MOHAMAD

We appreciate the time that MP Zaqy Mohamad had taken to respond to the recent article on our website written by Serene Tham. MP Zaqy's post about the issue can be seen here: http://therealsingapore.com/content/pap-mp-zaqy-mohamad-publishing-false...

We have since emailed Serene Tham to notify her of MP Zaqy's facebook post to which she had responded casually to us: 

Below are some pictures of her injuries:

Here are some pictures of the old staircase where she also noted that many elderly that are living around the area requires holding on to the railings of the staircase like she did. Algae can be as slippery as Ice. She has also said that she can provide photo evidence that the staircase has been cleaned thoroughly and the broken bricks replaced and made much safer for the elderly already:

We would once again like to clarify that we at TheRealSingapore.com are not the ones who have made these allegations and that we are a platform to allow average Singaporeans to voice their concerns. When concerns about an article have been raised, we will usually contact the writer again about the issue and take appropriate action. In this instance, the original writer of this content stands by her allegations. 

MP Zaqy has highlighted that TRS should be "transparent and accountable in what it publishes". We are indeed being transparent and accountable and have contacted the original writer who stands by her article. We have also republished MP Zaqy's concerns on our page so that our readers can also be aware of the claims made by MP Zaqy and we are now taking the time to respond to and clarify our position on this issue. 

MP Zaqy has insisted that TRS should 'validate all facts' before we publish content. We do try to validate facts before we publish content, however, due to the nature of many of the issues raised, it is in fact impossible for us to wait for or even receive clarification from MPs or Govt organizations on the issues.

Would the public even have known of the Brompton bike saga or the AIM Saga if media outlets, websites and blogs had to wait for the government to clarify or validate the information? If everything requires "official" validation then nothing can be published in the media except for the outcome of court verdicts. 

When we emailed NEA about the issue of fluoridation of tap water, we received no response. Does this mean that we cannot publish the concerns at all? 

It would be good if citizens could have all their concerns addressed quickly by emails or other non-public avenues, however, many people feel that they have not received timely or helpful responses through these avenues and so decide to escalate the issue by going public. When issues do escalate to that point, the other side need only to respond publicly and address the concerns so that the public can also see that something is really being done.

A government, MPs and even town councils should be accountable and responsible to their residents. Due to the political nature of these persons and groups, these clarifications often occur in the public sphere.

Why then do our MPs so quickly attack the websites that make these concerns public instead of just responding to the initial concerns?

The public should already be aware that any and all content online or otherwise is susceptible to bias and is often only one side of the story. We have taken care to publish MP Zaqy's side so that our readers can see both sides. In this case, both MP Zaqy and Serene Tham insist that the other is making 'false' allegations. It is impossible to verify which side is telling the truth here as it is simply the word of an MP against the word of a citizen, neither is more 'truthful' than the other. 

Our position at TRS is to make citizens' concerns public and to publish the voices of Singaporeans who otherwise would not be heard. If we receive responses, we will also publish those responses in an effort to provide balanced views and give both sides an opportunity to present their cases. It is then up to the public to decide which side they feel is correct. Without this process, how would the public come to know about the issues in the first place and how would they learn how their MPs deal with issues? Really, this process adds value to democracy by allowing the public to really get to know who they vote for.

Without an open avenue to voice concerns or question the government, how can the government be truly accountable? Is it more important to the public that online platforms be accountable or for the government to be accountable? We recognize that online platforms also need to be credible and so have made an effort to report both sides and to clarify our position in an effort to be accountable and transparent as MP Zaqy has suggested. Perhaps he should ask the same of the government that he is a part of instead of attacking online platforms that add to the process of democracy.

Mohd Farhan

TRS Chief Editor