Eric Ellis is a left thinking journalist, no insult intended to the Mid-East news icon, a Robert Fisk-wannabe in his agenda-driven journalism. Like Fisk, he never intended to be objective, just to achieve his objective of changing readers' views to his. Eric is an Australian and has criticised the European monarchies as spongers and deadweights in European democracies rather than understanding them as cultural-historical anchors. In his compliments to Der Speigel, he liked the German publication's scrutiny of the rich and powerful, taking the successful down a peg or too at every opportunity. He rejoiced when Murdoch's media empire took a hit over the UK phone hacking scandal as Murdoch's right-leaning media was too industrialist and capitalist to his liking and stood tall at the opposite end of his political view.
An Australian Outsider View
Eric has a typical outsider white man's burden over Singapore's development path - from criticising Singapore's zero-tolerance capital punishment policy for drug mules like Australian citizen Nguyen Tuong Van, to Singapore's ties with fellow ASEAN neighbour Myanmar, to his xenophobia of Singapore Inc buying up of overseas assets including Australia's. His latest rant was on Law Minister Shanmugam, with a slightly racist quip coming from the Australian, "K. Shanmugam, as he’s less tongue-twistingly known".
This set off a series of events. Shanmugam saw that Eric crossed the line. The Australian had made defamatory comments about Shanmugam and his involvement in companies in Indonesia that caused the recent haze problem. Eric's article was circulated by the usual suspects in the Internet who jump at any news real or false to sling mud at the government. Shanmugam then called Remy Choo Zheng Xi about the matter as the TOC blogger-Peter Low lawyer-WP activist was a key broker in the Internet community.
Kirsten Han blogged about the late night call after hearing it from Remy and packaged the call story as a minister bullying a blogger because such stories sell. Kirsten's agenda was unsurprising as she is among those locals who are against the death penalty, support an earlier Western-led disengagement of Myanmar and continued isolation of an ASEAN neighbour, someone who bought Eric's political views in bulk. Unfortunately for Kirsten this time, as Shanmugam and Remy have come out in the open to put into context the phone call, Kirsten's version of the event was inaccurate if not even fabricated to spread fear among her readers that the government was going to crack down hard on Remy and others.
The Last Laugh
Eric must be grinning right now - in one stroke, he made Shanmugam, Remy and Kirsten all look bad.