Speech by Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Chairman of SPH Media Trust, at the MOU signing ceremony between the Ministry of Education, The Ngee Ann Kongsi, and SPH Media Trust
Minister Chan Chun Sing,
The Ngee Ann Kongsi President Mr James Teo Wee Wee,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. SPH Media Trust’s mission is “to be the trusted source of news on Singapore and Asia, to represent the communities that make up Singapore, and to connect them to the world”. This is a compelling and heavy responsibility.
2. On the supply side, we, at SPH Media, are beefing up our capacity and upgrading our capabilities to raise the quality of our content, with deeper analysis and relevant insights. As quality journalism is a public good, the Government will be giving us a leg-up. It will help fund our digital transformation efforts, especially in digital capability development.
3. On the demand side, we will work with community partners to promote news and media literacy, especially among students and youths. We will help them understand contemporary issues from the Singapore perspective. Embedded in this effort is our support for the Government and the community in promoting Mother Tongue languages and in supporting their daily usage. Against the larger English-speaking environment, our Mother Tongue languages must remain alive and relevant.
4. This is an important political and economic imperative given our multi-racial multi-lingual heritage, and our location in Asia. Success requires a whole-of-Singapore approach: the Government, private sector and community organisations. SPH Media will step up its role in this whole-of-Singapore effort.
5. Specifically, we will enhance our student publications by producing content that students will find engaging and interesting; content that they can easily relate to. We will tap on digital technology, make greater use of multimedia formats, including videos, podcasts and interactive graphics. Recognising the digital habits of the young, we will strengthen our presence on social media platforms such as Instagram, Telegram and TikTok.
6. This morning, The Ngee Ann Kongsi has come forward to lend its support for this whole-of-Singapore effort in promoting Mother Tongue languages. The Ngee Ann Kongsi has pledged to donate $2.5 million annually for six years, to support the learning and teaching of Mother Tongue languages. Their generous donation of $15 million to the Ministry of Education will enable all secondary school students to gain full digital access to SPH Media’s vernacular student publications, in Chinese, Malay and Tamil. The benefits go beyond the students to their Mother Tongue teachers who will be able to have digital access to SPH Media’s vernacular dailies: ZB, Berita Harian and Tamil Murasu.
8. The world is changing rapidly. It is important to help Singaporeans understand and navigate the challenges that will shape their future. The Internet has broadened and deepened our access to timely information and useful insights. But it has also clouded the space with diverse perspectives which can be confusing to our people, not to mention misinformation and misrepresentation. This requires our journalists to understand the different cultural contexts, including the mechanics, psychology and technology of how misinformation spreads.
9. We are keen to collaborate with community-wide efforts to counter misinformation, fake news, and curb scams. We will be working with the Ministry of Education, and other interested partners in the public, private and academic sectors. I thank the Ministry of Education in facilitating such a meaningful partnership for the larger good of our people, especially the students.