CALLING the incident along Race Course Road on Dec 1, the 'Little India riot" prompted varsity student TALIA SEET to write in suggesting that The Straits Times and the Singapore media, including online news and social media sites should have picked a less pointed racial epithet. Below are her reasons, and The Straits Times reply. - Readers' ed
Dr RADIAH SALIM
President, Club HEAL
IT IS unfortunate that the term "schizophrenic" was used to describe the killer in the headline (Schizophrenic killer jailed for life; Nov 9). There is already a widespread false belief among Singaporeans that everyone who has schizophrenia is dangerous, without having such headlines perpetuate this stigma against mental illness. Debunking the myth of schizophrenia crime only takes a little research. Numerous studies indicate that people with schizophrenia who undergo treatment pose no greater danger to public welfare than anyone else in the general population. People with untreated schizophrenic illness do, however, have an increased tendency towards violent behaviour. Further, it is the initial psychotic episode, indicating the onset of schizophrenia, that frequently causes the patient to act out in bizarre and violent ways. On the other hand, most people struggling with the torment of schizophrenia do not commit violent crimes or aggressive acts against others. In fact, my own personal experience has been that those who undergo treatment with adequate support from their loved ones are predominantly wonderful pure-hearted inspiring people.
The case of Fang Gao San, the “schizophrenic’ killer” could have been used to convey a clear message to the public about the importance of ensuring that persons with schizophrenia or other serious mental illnesses get adequate care and treatment so that they recover and become useful contributing citizens. The stigma of mental illness puts people off getting treatment early. The newspapers can help in reducing such stigma and increasing awareness with a more sensitive approach to reporting news involving people with such illness.
Ms JANET LEE PAI PING
I WAS pleasantly amused by The Straits Times article (Batman sent to jail for theft, heroin use; Nov 12). However, I would like to know if sharing Batman Suparman’s personal particulars by publishing his Singapore identity card alongside the article constitutes a violation of the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 which is currently inforce. Personally, I do not think there is a need to share Batman’s personal data, namely his race, date of birth, sex and country of birth on our national newspaper. The story can still retain its flavour without the stated personal data.