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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Letter in newspapers about Palestinian elections

Yeah, I was published again today, this time by free newspaper, Today.

As I did with my previous letter in The Straits Times, here's a look at how my letter was edited in Today. Note to Today: this is not an affront to your editorial policies. This is just a lesson to show how letters from the public are edited for publishing.

(Red type indicate changes, striked out portions were part of my original letter.)
Need to respect Palestinian election outcome Continue to engage Palestine

I refer to your article the commentary, "Respect the choice of the Palestinians" by Jonathan Steele (Today, Jan 28, 2006).

(added paragraph break) Like the writer, I think that I agree with him that the global community should respect the outcome of the Palestinian elections. (removed paragraph break) The West, and the United States in particular, has championed democracy for a long time, to the extent of overthrowing dictatorships in Afghanistan and Iraq. It introduced free elections as the cornerstone of democracy.

In Palestine, the people have exercised their democratic right to vote. The result outcome - they brought Hamas to power. As a result, the US and European Union could cut aid to Palestine, which will set setting back its continued development. They may also shut the doors on the Middle East peace talks.

The West cannot be seen to coddle with an openly terrorist group such as Hamas. However, the new Palestinian government is, as US founding father Abraham Lincoln said, "of the people, by the people, for the people". The West cannot afford to be seen as hypocrites in their championing for democracy.

I hope that the Western powers - and Israel - will do the sensible thing in continuing to engage Palestine, even if an old enemy is now leading it.

(added paragraph break) I think peaceful engagement is preferable to all instead of continued armed conflict and unnecessary bloodshed.
This time, there were less edits than before, probably because I wasn't talking about Singapore or the government. I suspect that the edits that were made (except for the title and date of referred article) were due to space constraints in the paper format. Since I don't have access to the physical copy, I can't verify this.

I also can't comment on the differences, if any, in editing styles between The Straits Times and Today since my letters were on different topics.

This time, I wrote my letter as my reaction to an article about the Hamas victory in recent Palestinian elections. On one hand, I understood why the democratic West would be miffed that a terrorist group won an election. On the other hand, having experienced first-hand how Americans value and champion democracy, I felt that it would be a dangerous precedent if they rejected a democratic government because of the latter's ideologies. If the Americans or British elected militant parties to power, I don't think they would tolerate being denigrated by other countries.

Consensus is better than conflict, isn't it?

Oh, and just to be clear: I DO NOT SUPPORT TERRORISM!


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