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Singapore blogger flamed for LKY death post says haters can be converted into readers

Jeraldine Phneah

Jeraldine Phneah; pic credit: Naheury Photography

A Singapore blogger who received bitter criticism for a post titled ‘Why I will not be THAT sad about LKY’s death’ two days before the former prime minister passed away, said today that publishers have an opportunity to turn even the harshest critics into an audience if they are handled in the right way.

Jeraldine Phneah, a former Miss World Singapore finalist who blogs under her real name, wrote a post in March that challenged a number of the reasons why Lee Kuan Yew is held in such high regard in Singapore. The article was criticised from some quarters for being insensitive at a time when Lee was critically ill in hospital.

“People thought I wrote the piece to clickbait,” she said on a panel at the Singapore Digital Publishers Summit today that included Maureen Ow, better known as food blogger Miss Tam Chiak.

“That isn’t true. I was not deriding LKY at all and instead merely giving credit where it is due. That isn’t disrespect.”

“You have to maintain your stance. Don’t say you’re sorry [if you’re not in the wrong]. Do not bow down to criticism,” she said about how bloggers should respond to critics online.

“Filter the comments. Pick the ones that you can engage with, and those which you can’t. You can convert haters into readers,” she said.

Phneah responded to the vitriol she received by publishing a post a few days later that picked out five comments made about her article, tackling each one at a time.

Among the comments levelled at her were: “It is the wrong time. After people die, if you have nothing good to say, you should keep quiet” and “Why don’t you try going or living overseas like in Indonesia or Malaysia!!!??”

The title of her original blog post was changed from ‘Why I will not be THAT sad about LKY’s death’ to ‘A Middle Ground Perspective on LKY’s death’ after Lee Kuan Yew died on 23 March.

In the panel discussion, Phneah was later asked about sensationalism as a content strategy for publishers. She said that as her blog caters to “a more intellectual group” sensationalism would not be a sustainable approach.

“Writing about contentious stuff is a good strategy only if you’re a publication like The New Paper,” she said, referring to the Singapore Press Holdings tabloid.

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