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Straits times

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Straits times

Not to be confused with New Straits Times, the Malaysian newspaper.
The Straits Times
Front page of The Straits Times on May 18, 2012
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner Singapore Press Holdings
Publisher Singapore Press Holdings
Editor Warren Fernandez[1]
Language English
Headquarters Singapore
Circulation 352,003 (As of July 2013)[2]
Official website

The Straits Times is an English-language daily broadsheet newspaper based in Singapore currently owned by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). It is the country's highest-selling paper, with a current Sunday Times circulation of nearly 365,800.[3]

Originally established on 15 July 1845 as the The Straits times and Singapore journal of commerce,[4][5] in the early days of British colonial rule, and may be considered the successor to various other newspapers during the time such as the Singapore Chronicle. After Singapore became independent from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, the paper became more focused on the island leading to the creation of the New Straits Times for Malaysian readers.

SPH also publishes two other English-language dailies; the broadsheet The Business Times and The New Paper tabloid. The Straits Times is a member of the Asia News Network.


The Straits Times was started by an Armenian, Catchick Moses.[6] Moses's friend, Martyrose Apcar, had intended to start a local paper, but met with financial difficulties. To fulfil his friend's dream, Moses took over and appointed Robert Carr Woods as editor. On 15 July 1845, The Straits Times was launched as an eight-page weekly, published at 7 Commercial Square using a hand-operated press. The subscription fee then was Sp.$1.75 per month. In September 1846, he sold the paper to Robert Woods because the press proved unprofitable to run.

On 20 February 1942, five days after the British had surrendered to the Japanese, The Straits Times became known as The Shonan Times and The Syonan Shimbun. This name change lasted until 5 September 1945, when Singapore returned to British rule.


The Straits Times functions with 16 bureaus and special correspondents in major cities worldwide. The paper itself is published in four segments: the main section focuses on Asian and international news, with sub-sections of columns and editorials and the "Forum Page" (letters to the press). The "Home" section focuses on local news, together with sports and finance pages, which sometimes may be separated into a different section themselves. There is a classified ads and job listing section, followed by a separate lifestyle, entertainment and the arts section that is titled "Life!". On Saturdays, there is a separate "Saturday" section, which includes a special report (feature), and a science section, which reports on latest scientific developments.

Currently the newspaper publishes three weekly pull-outs ("Digital Life", "Mind Your Body", and "Urban" on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday respectively). All three pull-outs are printed in tabloid format.

The newspaper also publishes special editions for primary and secondary schools in Singapore. The primary-school version contains a special pull-out, titled "Little Red Dot" and the secondary-school version contains a pull-out titled "In".

The Straits Times is the only English language newspaper with an active Internet forum in Singapore. A separate edition The Sunday Times is published on Sundays.

Straits Times Online (

Launched on 1 January 1994, The Straits Times' website was free of charge and granted access to all the sections and articles found in the print edition. On 1 January 2005, the online version began requiring registration and after a short period became a paid-access-only site. Currently, only people who subscribe to the online edition can read all the articles on the Internet, including the frequently updated "Latest News" section.

A free section, featuring a selection of news stories, is currently available at the site. Regular podcast, vodcast and twice-daily—mid-day and evening updates—radio-news bulletins are also available for free online.

The Straits Times's decision to make its online edition almost entirely subscription-funded is in contrast to other traditional newspapers online editions, which often charge only for certain sections, such as archives, or for digital editions.

Community programmes

The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund

The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund was initiated on Children's Day (October 1) in the year 1993 by The Straits Times, to heighten public awareness of the plight of children from low-income families who were attending school without proper breakfast, or pocket money to sustain their day in school.

The aim is to alleviate the financial burden faced by parents in providing for their children's education. At the same time the funds will help children who are already facing difficulties in remaining in school to stay on.

In the past few years, members of the public, schools and corporations responded generously after reading stories highlighting children especially those from single parent families who were most affected.

Since donations to the fund are collected prior to the year it is disbursed, donations received in a given year go on to help the people who apply to the fund the following year. An estimate on the amount that needs to be raised is based on the projection provided by the National Council of Social Service.

The National Council of Social Services which administers the funds, makes quarterly disbursements to agencies, such as the Family Service Centres (FSC) Special schools and Children's Homes to benefit their eligible clients.

Currently 38 FSCs, 22 Special Schools and 13 Children's Homes have been commissioned to administer the scheme. Agencies approval is based on a set of eligibility criteria and assessment of the family's financial situation. Based on the assessment of the case, social workers recommend the disbursement. The approval of either the Director of the Family Service Centre, Principal of a Special School or Head of a home is required for each application.

10% of all donations go to the National Council of Social Service for their administrative costs. Singapore Press Holdings does not take any cut of any donations.

From 1 January 2008, primary school pupils will receive $45 a month, up from $35, while secondary school students will get $80, up from the current $60 Chua, Grace & Lim, Jessica (2008). More help for pocket money fund students. Other qualifying criteria will also be tweaked Children from families earning up to $450 a person, or $1,800 for a family of four, can now apply for help from the fund. Previously, the income cut-off was $300 a head. Students will also be eligible for funding until they complete secondary school, instead of up to age 17, as was the case previously.

The Straits Times Media Club

The Straits Times Media Club is a youth programme to encourage youth readership and interest in news and current affairs. Schools will have to subscribe for at least 500 copies, and will receive their papers every Monday. A youth newspaper, IN, is slotted in together with the main paper for the students.

The Straits Times School of Rock Competition

The Straits Times School of Rock Competition was incepted in 2005. Budding young bands with members aged between 13 to 18 compete to be the ultimate youth band in Singapore. The finals of the competition was held at a local shopping mall in small town, Junction 8 Shopping Centre on 1 January 2005.

The Straits Times National Schools Newspaper Competition

The National Schools Newspaper Competition started its inaugural year in 2005. Although 20 schools qualified for the semi-finals based on their school newsletters, only 10 schools made it to the finals. These 10 secondary schools then participate in the finals at the SPH News Centre.


Year Champion Runner-up Third
2005 Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) Raffles Institution CHIJ Saint Nicholas Girls' School
2006 Victoria School CHIJ Saint Nicholas Girls' School Raffles Institution
2007 CHIJ Saint Nicholas Girls' School Victoria School Raffles Institution
2008 Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) Victoria School Raffles Girls' Secondary School
2009 Raffles Institution Victoria School CHIJ Saint Nicholas Girls' School
2010 NPS International School NUS High School of Mathematics and Science Raffles Institution
2011 Victoria School NPS International School Raffles Institution
2012 School of the Arts Hwa Chong Institution NPS International School


The Straits Times has been criticized as being the mouthpiece of the ruling party, the People's Action Party, and lacks the freedom to criticize the government. The Newspaper and Printing Presses Act of 1974 requires all newspapers to be publicly listed into both ordinary and management shares, with management shares having 200 times the voting rights of ordinary shares and approval from the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts needed for any management share transfers. Past chairpersons of Singapore Press Holdings have been civil servants. SPH's former executive president, Tjong Yik Min, served as the head of the Internal Security Department from 1986 to 1993.

In his memoir OB Markers: My Straits Times Story, former editor-in-chief Cheong Yip Seng recounts how, since 1986, there has been a government-appointed "monitor" at the newspaper, "someone who could watch to see if indeed the newsroom was beyond control", and that disapproval of the "monitor" could cost a reporter or editor their job.[7] Cheong identifies the first monitor as S. R. Nathan, director of the Ministry of Defence's Security and Intelligence Division and later president of Singapore.[7]

Former Minister George Yeo, when he held the portfolio of Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, stressed that the media was not to be a "fourth estate" in ruling the country; the role of the press was to aid "nation building", in view of Singapore's heterogeneous society and peculiar vulnerabilities as a small nation.

Cherian George, a former art editor of the paper, has once described press workings in Singapore in a convention conference in 1998 at the University of California, Berkeley:

In the Singapore model, the elected government is the expression of democracy, and it is protected from the press, which is unelected and therefore undemocratic.... "the 'freedom from the press' model does mean that newspapers must operate within much narrower perimeters than their counterparts in most parts of the world. It must accept its subordinate role in society...The tone of stories must be respectful towards the country's leaders. They can be critical, but they cannot ridicule or lampoon.

Other incidents

Owing to political sensitivities, The Straits Times is not sold in neighboring Malaysia, and the Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times is not sold in Singapore. The ban was imposed before the 31 August 1957 general election in Malaysia. On 1 January 2005, the governments of both countries discussed lifting the ban with Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew speaking in favour of such a move, although Malaysian politicians were more wary. At one point during a dispute over the sale of water, the newspaper was banned in Malaysia.


Name Appointment Notes
Warren Fernandez Editor
Zuraidah Ibrahim Deputy Editor (Singapore Coverage: Home, Political and Money)
Alan John Deputy Editor (Sunday Times, Enterprise, Foreign and Sports)
Ivan Fernandez Associate Editor (Chief Leader Writer)
Janadas Devan Associate Editor
Felix Soh Digital Media Editor
Sumiko Tan News Editor & Supervising Editor (Digital Life, Mind Your Body & IN)
Ignatius Low News Editor & Supervising Editor, (Money)
Lim Chuan Huat Night Editor
Ravi Velloor Foreign Editor
Helen Chia Life! & Lifestyle Editor
Lee Su Shyan Money Editor
Chua Mui Hoong Review Editor
Stephanie Yeow Picture Editor
Marc Lim Sports Editor
Yap Koon Hong Forum Editor
Eugene Leow Online Editor (
Tan Hsueh Yun Food Editor
Angelina Choy Community Editor
Mathew Pereira Health Editor


Notable personalities

  • Catchick Moses, the Armenian founder of the paper
  • Robert Carr Woods, the paper's first editor
  • Susan Long, (Enterprise Editor/Journalist—Wrote an editorial, "NKF: Controversially ahead of its time?", published in The Straits Times on 1 January 2002, which became the subject of the dispute involving the National Kidney Foundation Singapore and SPH, and eventually the lawsuit that led to the National Kidney Foundation Singapore scandal)
  • John McBeth, columnist since 2004
  • Ching Cheong, (Ex-Chief China Correspondent (Now Senior Writer based in Hong Kong Formerly held by Chinese authorities on espionage charges)
  • Koh Buck Song, columnist 1990-99, 2004–05
  • Miel Prudencio Ma, (Cartoonist and Senior Executive Artist, SPH)
  • Ernest Corea, Features Editor and Foreign Affairs columnist

See also



  • Thio, HR and the Media in Singapore in HR and the Media, Robert Haas ed, Malaysia: AIDCOM 1996 69 at 72-5.
  • 141st Media : Refers to the Singapore Mass Media. Singapore was ranked 141 out of 169 in the "Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2007" by "Reporters Without Borders".
  • 146th Media : (obsolete) Refers to the Singapore Mass Media. Singapore was ranked 146 out of 168 in the "Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006" by "Reporters Without Borders".
  • 154th Media : Refers to the Singapore Mass Media. Singapore was ranked 154 out of 195 in the "2007 Freedom of the Press World Ranking" by "Freedom House".

External links

  • Newseum website
  • SPH NewsLink—Archive of Straits Times Articles
  • Search digitised Singapore newspapers from 1831-2009
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