Mr Balji, former Chief Editor of TODAY and now Yahoo! Singapore columnist, is never someone to shy away from controversy and tough views. He’ll hit them as hard as any journalist you see in Singapore, whether mainstream or alternative.
And hit ’em hard he did when former President SR Nathan passed away two nights ago. Yester-morning he wrote an article on Yahoo titled, “Above all, Nathan was an LKY loyalist and believer.”
Maybe it was a nice headline to go out there with the uber hip and rebellious social media crowd. I guess a title like “Above all, Nathan was a people’s President” or “Nathan always put country before self” wouldn’t cut it.
Balji’s main objective was not to list Nathan’s (often repeated) achievements, although that’s what he did. His main objective was to depict Nathan as someone with very little or no spine of his own, someone who climbed to high office simply by being obedient to LKY.
The most telling paragraph was this: I remember King asking Nathan: If one of your citizens was given a similar punishment here, will your government accept it? His answer was short and unequivocal: Yes. That kind of confidence could have only come from his standing with LKY. Instinctively, Nathan must have known that even if the interview went wrong, he would not be in LKY’s dog house.
If it’s true, that Nathan was just someone in LKY’s dog house, I just hope Mr P N Balji said it to S R Nathan straight in his face while he was alive.
James Li is a Singaporean journalist and copywriter. He now works for a media agency in New York.