The Straits Times

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The Straits Times
The Straits Times Logo.svg
The Straits Times (December 13, 2019).jpg
The Straits Times front page on 13 December 2019
TypeDaily newspaper
Owner(s)SPH Media Trust
EditorWarren Fernandez[1]
Founded15 July 1845; 176 years ago (1845-07-15)
(64587 issues)
Political alignmentCentre to centre-right
Headquarters1000 Toa Payoh North, News Centre, Singapore, 318994
Circulation370,700 (As of August 2018)[2]
5,000 (Myanmar edition)[3]
2,500 (Brunei edition)[4]
OCLC number8572659

The Straits Times is a Singaporean daily broadsheet newspaper owned by the SPH Media Trust.[2] It was first established on 15 July 1845 as The Straits Times and Singapore Journal of Commerce.[5][6] The Straits Times is considered a newspaper of record for Singapore.[7]

Print and digital editions of The Straits Times and The Sunday Times had a daily average circulation of 364,134 and 364,849 respectively in 2017, as audited by Audit Bureau of Circulations Singapore.[8] In 2014, editions were published in Brunei and Myanmar, with newsprint circulations of 2,500 and 5,000.[3][4]


Early years[edit]

The Straits Times was established in 1845 by Catchick Moses, an ethnic Armenian living in Singapore.[9] 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, the paper was sold to Woods because the press proved unprofitable to run.

Japanese occupation[edit]

On 20 February 1942, five days after the Fall of Singapore, The Straits Times was renamed by Japan and became known as The Shonan Times, and later as The Syonan Times, The Syonan Sinbun and The Syonan Shimbun.[10] During this period, the paper was thoroughly pro-Japanese and would often report on Japan's war efforts in the Pacific. Such name changes lasted until 5 September 1945, when it was reverted back to The Straits Times as Singapore returned to British colonial rule and subsequently until today.[11]: 240 


An example of The Straits Times on 1 May 1952 publishing cash bounties offered by the British for information on communist activities and individuals during the Malayan Emergency. The person in the photo is Chin Peng.

During the early days of Singaporean self-governance (before 1965), the paper, who had a pro-colonial stance, had an uneasy relationship with some politicians. This included the leaders of the People's Action Party (PAP), who desired self-governance for Singapore.[12][13]

Editors were warned by British colonial officials that any reportage that may threaten the merger between Singapore and the Malayan Federation may result in subversion charges, and that they may be detained without trial under the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance Act.[14][15]

During the Malayan Emergency, The Straits Times published cash bounties for information leading to the killing or capture of senior communists.[16] Earlier during the Emergency, The Straits Times had erroneously reported that 26 suspected communist guerrillas had been shot dead by the British military while attempting to escape after ammunition had been discovered in their homes.[17] However, it was later discovered that 24 people had been shot dead, and that all of them were innocent civilians who had been executed as part of the Batang Kali massacre by the Scots Guards regiment; an event described by historians as the British Mỹ Lai.[17]


After Singapore gained its independence in 1965, the newspaper has since been referred to as Singapore's newspaper of record due to its links with the government.[18][19] Interestingly, this meant that despite its history as being largely anti-PAP when Singapore was a colony, it has become largely pro-PAP after independence.[20][21][22]

Chua Chin Hon, then ST's bureau chief for the United States, was quoted as saying that SPH "editors have all been groomed as largely pro-government supporters and are careful to ensure that reporting of local events adheres closely to the official line” in a 2009 US diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks.[23][24]

Past chairpersons of SPH have been mostly civil or public servants of the country's civil service. The current SPH Chairman, Lee Boon Yang, is a former minister who took over the reigns of Tony Tan, also a former minister and president of Singapore. Many current ST management and senior editors have close links to the government as well. SPH's CEO Alan Chan was a former top civil servant and Principal Private Secretary of then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Current editor-in-chief Warren Fernandez was considered as a PAP candidate for the 2006 elections, but no longer has any links to the government.[25][26]

Name Position(s) in SPH Years served Position(s) in public office
Before SPH After SPH
S.R. Nathan Executive chairman of the Straits Times Press/SPH 1982–1988 Perm Sec. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador, President of Singapore[27]
Lim Kim San Executive chairman of SPH 1988–2002 Cabinet Minister, Chairman of Port of Singapore Authority Chairman, Council of Presidential Advisers, Chancellor, Singapore Management University[28]
Tony Tan Executive chairman of SPH 2005–2011 Deputy Prime Minister President of Singapore[29]
Tjong Yik Min President of SPH 1995–2002 Director of Internal Security Department Group Chief Executive, Yeo Hiap Seng[30]
Alan Chan Director, President, Chief executive of SPH 2002–2017 Perm. Sec. of the Ministry of Transport Chairman for the Land Transport Authority (LTA)[31]
Lee Boon Yang Executive chairman of SPH 2011–present Cabinet Minister
Zainul Abidin Rasheed Editor of Berita Harian, Associate editor of ST 1976–1996 Businessman Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador
Chua Lee Hoong Review, Political editor of ST[32] 1995–2012[33] Intelligence analyst of Internal Security Department[34] Senior Director of Resilience Policy and Research Centre and National Security Research Centre, Prime Minister's Office[35]
Patrick Daniel Editor-in-chief, Deputy chief executive of SPH 1986–2017 Director in the Ministry of Trade and Industry[36] Interim CEO of SPH Media Trust[37]
Ng Yat Chung Chief executive of SPH 2017–present CEO of Neptune Orient Lines, Chief of Army, Chief of Defence Force
Han Fook Kwang Editor of ST, Editor-at-large[38] 1989–present Deputy Director of Ministry of Communications (Land Transport)[19] Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies[39]
Janadas Devan Senior editor of ST 1997–2012 Academic Chief of Government Communications[40]

In his memoir OB Markers: My Straits Times Story, former editor-in-chief Cheong Yip Seng, recounted how the newspaper has 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 from being internally promoted.[41] Cheong identified the first monitor as S. R. Nathan, director of the Ministry of Defence's Security and Intelligence Division and later president of Singapore.[41] Editors were bound by out of bounds markers to denote what topics are permissible for public discussion, such as anything that may produce ill-will and hostility between different races and religious groups.[42][43]


The Straits Times functions with 16 bureaus and special correspondents in major cities worldwide. The paper has five sections: the main section consist of Asian and international news, with sub-sections of columns and editorials and the Forum Page (letters to the press). The Home section consist of local news and topics on Education for Monday, Mind and Body for Tuesday, Digital for Wednesday, Community for Thursday and Science for Friday. There are also a sports and finance section, a classified ads and job listing section and a lifestyle, style, entertainment and the arts section titled "Life!".

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".

A separate edition The Sunday Times is published on Sundays.

International editions[edit]

A specific Myanmar and Brunei edition of this paper was launched on 25 Mar 2014 and 30 October 2014. It is published daily with local newspaper printers on licence with SPH. This paper is distributed on ministries, businesses, major hotels, airlines, bookshops and supermarkets on major cities and target sales to local and foreign businessmen in both countries. Circulation of the Myanmar edition currently stands at 5,000 and 2,500 for the Brunei edition. The Brunei edition is currently sold at B$1 per copy and an All-in-One Straits Times package consisting of the print edition and full digital access via online, tablets and smartphones, will also be introduced in Brunei.[3][4]

Straits Times Online[edit]

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.

Community programmes[edit]

The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund[edit]

The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund was initiated on 1 October 2000 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.[44] 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.

The Straits Times Schools[edit]

The Straits Times Schools is a news desk created to encourage youth readership and interest in news and current affairs.[45] Launched in 2004, the programme was initially known as The Straits Times Media Club. Youth newspapers, IN and Little Red Dot are produced on a weekly basis for secondary and primary school students respectively, whose schools would have to subscribe in bulk.[46] Students will receive their papers every Monday together with the main broadsheet. On 7 March 2017, a digital IN app was launched, allowing parents, students and other individual ST subscribers to subscribe to IN weekly releases digitally.[47]

Public opinions[edit]

The Straits Times has occasionally been criticised for "lazy" reporting in some areas. In 2017, for instance, the newspaper would repeatedly interview a person named Ashley Wu on 8 occasions within a span of 10 months over matters in relation to public transport, rather than getting fresh viewpoints from others.[48][49]

A 2020 Reuters Institute independent survey of 15 media outlets found that 73% of Singaporean respondents trusted reporting from The Straits Times, the second highest rating next to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), a local TV news channel.[50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Leadership change at The Straits Times". AsiaOne News. 30 November 2011. Archived from the original on 3 January 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b "The Straits Times / The Sunday Times (Singapore Press Holdings website)". Singapore Press Holdings. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "The Straits Times launches Myanmar edition". Singapore Press Holdings. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "The Straits Times launches Brunei edition". Singapore Press Holdings. 24 March 2014. Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Newspaper Article - Straits Times and Singapore Journal of Commerce". Archived from the original on 17 July 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  6. ^ "The Straits times and Singapore journal of commerce". Library of Congress. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  7. ^ Christopher, H. Sterling (2009). "A–C". Encyclopedia of Journalism. Vol. 1. SAGE Publishing. p. 108. ISBN 978-0761929574.
  8. ^ "Audit Bureau of Circulations Singapore". Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  9. ^ "The History of Armenians in Singapore and Malaysia". Archived from the original on 26 February 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  10. ^ "The Syonan Shimbun". Singapore: NewspaperSG. Retrieved 12 March 2021. Title varies: 20 Feb 1942 as Shonan Times; 21 Feb - 7 Dec 1942 as Syonan Times; 8 Dec 1942 - 7 Dec 1943 as Syonan Sinbun.
  11. ^ Giese, O., 1994, Shooting the War, Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, ISBN 1557503079
  12. ^ "PAP and English Press". The Straits Times. 30 April 1959. Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  13. ^ "Press Freedom". The Straits Times. 19 May 1959. Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  14. ^ "IPI to Discuss PAP Threat Against The Straits Times". The Straits Times. 22 May 1959. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  15. ^ "'Ugly threats' are also a menace to already dwindling liberties". 28 May 1959. Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  16. ^ Ward, Ian; Miraflor, Norma; Peng, Chin (2003). Alias Chin Peng: My Side of History. Singapore: Media Masters. pp. 312–313. ISBN 981-04-8693-6.
  17. ^ a b Hack, Karl (2016). "'Devils that Suck the Blood of the Malayan People'". War in History. 25: 209 – via Sage Journals.
  18. ^ Aglionby, John (26 October 2001). "A tick in the only box". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  19. ^ a b "More young people writing to ST Forum". Archived from the original on 16 September 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  20. ^ Mydans, Seth (5 May 2011). "In Singapore, Political Campaigning Goes Viral". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  21. ^ "Singapore Straits Times website down after hacker threat". Reuters. 4 November 2013. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  22. ^ "Singapore bans Chinese-American scholar as foreign agent". ABC News. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  23. ^ "Journalists Frustrated by Press Controls". Wikileaks. 16 January 2009. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017.
  24. ^ "WikiLeaks: Significant gov't pressure put on ST editors". Archived from the original on 8 September 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  25. ^ Cheong, Yip Seng (2013). OB Markers: My Straits Times Story. Straits Times Press. ISBN 9789814342339.
  26. ^ "COMMENT: The big story behind the SPH reshuffle". Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  27. ^ "Former president S R Nathan dies, aged 92". The Straits Times. 22 August 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ "Lim Kim San | Infopedia". Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  29. ^ "Tony Tan elected Singapore president". 28 September 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. ^ "Former ISD director Tjong Yik Min dies at age 67". The Straits Times. 1 June 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. ^ "Alan Chan reappointed LTA chairman". Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  32. ^ Chua, Hian Hou. "ST editorial reshuffle to streamline, strengthen coverage". Archived from the original on 24 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  33. ^ "Land Transport Authority Annual Report 2009" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 November 2012. Chua Lee Hoong was with the civil service for 10 years before joining Singapore Press Holdings as a journalist in 1995.
  34. ^ Ellis, Eric (21 June 2001). "Climate control in the Singapore Press". The Australian. Archived from the original on 24 September 2017.
  35. ^ "Appointment of Members to The Public Transport Council | Ministry of Transport, Singapore". Archived from the original on 24 September 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  36. ^ Yahya, Yasmine (26 May 2017). "Journalism veteran Patrick Daniel to retire as SPH deputy CEO, stay on as consultant". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  37. ^ "Patrick Daniel to be interim CEO of SPH Media Trust; digital media capacity to be enhanced". Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  38. ^ "Bio on Author Han Fook Kwang" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 September 2017.
  39. ^ "Han Fook Kwang | RSIS". Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  40. ^ "Appointment to the Government Information Service". Base. Archived from the original on 8 September 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  41. ^ a b "Book Review: Lee Kuan Yew's Taming of the Press". Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  42. ^ "Under Lee Kuan Yew, the press was only as free as it needed to be to serve Singapore". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  43. ^ "The Exotic World of Singaporean Journalism - Asia Sentinel". Asia Sentinel. 17 July 2013. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  44. ^ "The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund". Archived from the original on 2 March 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  45. ^ "Our Mission -". ST Schools. Archived from the original on 6 May 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  46. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions -". ST Schools. Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  47. ^ MarketScreener. "Singapore Press : The Straits Times' student magazine, IN, goes digital | MarketScreener". Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  48. ^ "Transport Minister vs. "Singapore's only commuter" Ashley Wu". Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  49. ^ "Thanks to Minister Khaw, Ashley Wu, aged 35 to 37, is S'pore's most famous public transport user". Archived from the original on 22 March 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  50. ^ Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020 (PDF). University of Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. p. 101.

Additional Sources[edit]

  • Thio, HR and the Media in Singapore in HR and the Media, Robert Haas ed, Malaysia: AIDCOM 1996 69 at 72-5.

Further reading[edit]

  • Merrill, John C. and Harold A. Fisher. The world's great dailies: profiles of fifty newspapers (1980) pp 305–7
  • Turnbull, C. Mary. Dateline Singapore: 150 Years of The Straits Times (1995), published by Singapore Press Holdings
  • Cheong Yip Seng. OB Markers: My Straits Times Story (2012), published by Straits Times Press

External links[edit]