Sunday, January 17, 2010

Responsible reporting and the use of "Ah Kua/Gua"

(Unpublished - Jan 11, 2010)

I refer to reporter Melissa Pang's article "Molested victim a 'he'?" (ST, Jan 8, 2010).

The report cited the molested victim to a Thai transsexual, and quoted various Straits Times STOMP! users as describing her as "Ah Gua"/"Ah Kua".

News reporting can be more responsible and sensitive when quoting or reporting words and terms that are considered hurtful, demeaning and insulting towards certain people.

I suggest that future reports that objectively present information be accompanied with some form of education, in this case, an advise that the terms "Ah Gua/Kua" are derogatory insults used against people who are either transgender or effeminate.

This way, such insults will not be legitimised.

Ho Chi Sam

Afterthoughts:

Imagine if the reporter objectively quoted other derogatory terms from people, such as "nigger", "abunehneh", "chink", and so on, without explaining (and in the process making a stand) that these terms are insulting to specific communities and demographies. Will that kind of thing happen?

Imagine if you're a reporter collecting Singaporeans' responses to Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam's latest release. Will you report stuff like "He is a whacked out Ah Neh" without explain that this is a derogatory word? Of course, that comment will be removed in the first place. But you get the drift.

The Straits Times should be more responsible not only to some minorities, but to all. Objectively reporting should be accompanied by some sense of responsibility towards your readers. It's quite irritating when the media, charged by the government with the role of "nation-building", continues to legitimise homophobia and transphobia.

I guess this is why there are no journalists in Singapore, but reporters. Because reporters just copy and paste what they see and what they get. The newspapers not only have a role to inform, but play a large part in cultivating a society, in this case (the lack of) education.

8 comments:

Secret Political Blog said...

I agree throughly

娃娃 said...

如此動感的blog!!!..................................................

Freefall said...

It's not a Straits Times thing, or a nation-building media thing, but a Singaporean thing. For example, the article on anti-government Temasek Review just went ahead and called the molestee "Ah Kua" in its headlines.

melo said...

to be fair (and speaking from experience) most reporters analyse and scrutinise the information gathered before organising their paras into a story. :)

melo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hongdarian said...

I'm echoing Freefall's statements, as it's still a "Singaporean" thing to do.

Eradicating Racism is a much preached about subject in Singapore, however for sexuality issues, the country's stand is still ambiguous (Referring to the Section 377A of the Penal Code (Singapore)). So the tendency for people to be insensitive towards such issues is larger than racism etc.

However by saying "legitimise homophobia and transphobia" is kind of extreme to some extent for Singapore, as I believe Singaporeans especially the younger generations are more tolerant and slowly (and carefully) making their stand heard.

That being said, this is my first time reading your blog and I find it great to find someone else having an interest in talking about the taboos (sexuality, censorship etc) of Singapore. I'll be following your posts.

Daryl

Aeondrift said...

If you think Singapore or its younger generation is "more tolerant", try dressing up as the opposite gender to be perceived as a trans-person during early transitioning, and apply and go for job interviews, meet up land lord, or just go grocery shopping for a month as see if you won't kill yourself in the end (even w/o the hell gender dysphoria) to deal with.

Note: Dressing up as the gender opposite wrt to your sex does not make you a trans-person, but a crossdresser/transvestite (even if its full time). However you'll still face very similar persecutions and discrimination or even verbal bullying from the very many backward and ignorant Singaporean majority.

Aeondrift said...

If you think Singapore or its younger generation is "more tolerant", try dressing up as the opposite gender to be perceived as a trans-person during early transitioning, and apply and go for job interviews, meet up land lord, or just go grocery shopping for a month as see if you won't kill yourself in the end (even w/o the hell gender dysphoria) to deal with.

Note: Dressing up as the gender opposite wrt to your sex does not make you a trans-person, but a crossdresser/transvestite (even if its full time). However you'll still face very similar persecutions and discrimination or even verbal bullying from the very many backward and ignorant Singaporean majority.