The Straits Times

The Straits Times is an English-language daily broadsheet newspaper based in Singapore currently owned by Singapore Press Holdings. The Sunday Times is the Sunday edition of the newspaper.[2] It was established on 15 July 1845 as The Straits Times and Singapore Journal of Commerce.[5][6] As audited by Audit Bureau of Circulations Singapore, the print and digital editions of The Straits Times and The Sunday Times have a daily average circulation of 364,134 and 364,849 respectively in 2017.[7] There are specific Myanmar and Brunei editions published, with a newsprint circulation of 5,000 and 2,500 respectively.[3][4]

The Straits Times
Front page of The Straits Times from 18 May 2012
TypeDaily newspaper
Owner(s)Singapore Press Holdings
EditorWarren Fernandez[1]
Founded15 July 1845 (1845-07-15)
(63708 issues)
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 was started by an Armenian, Catchick Moses.[8] 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.[9]:240

During the early days of Singaporean self-governance (before 1965), the paper had an uneasy relationship with some politicians, including the leaders of the People's Action Party.[10][11] Editors were warned 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.[12][13]


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.

Sale in Malaysia

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 independence in Malaysia.

International editions

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

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

The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund

The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund was initiated on October 1, 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.[14] 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

The Straits Times Schools is a news desk created to encourage youth readership and interest in news and current affairs.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

Government interference

The newspaper is sometimes referred as "the mouthpiece" of the ruling party[18][19] or at least "mostly pro-government"[20][21] and "close to the government".[22]

Chua Chin Hon, then ST’s bureau chief for the United States, was quoted as saying that SPH’s “editors have all been groomed as 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 Singapore Press Holdings have been civil or public servants. Current SPH Chairman Lee Boon Yang is a former PAP cabinet minister who took over from Tony Tan, former Deputy Prime Minister. Many current ST management and senior editors have close links to the government as well. SPH 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.[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
Lim Kim San Executive chairman of SPH 1988–2002 Cabinet Minister, Chairman of Port of Singapore Authority
Tony Tan Executive chairman of SPH 2005–2011 Deputy Prime Minister President of Singapore
Tjong Yik Min President of SPH 1995–2002 Director of Internal Security Department
Alan Chan Director, President, Chief executive of SPH 2002–2017 Perm. Sec. of the Ministry of Transport
Lee Boon Yang Executive chairman of SPH 2011–present Cabinet Minister
Zainul Abidin Rasheed Editor of Berita Harian, Associate editor of ST 1976-1996 Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador
Chua Lee Hoong Review, Political editor of ST[27] 1995-2012[28] Intelligence analyst of Internal Security Department[29] Senior Director of Resilience Policy and Research Centre and National Security Research Centre, Prime Minister's Office[30]
Patrick Daniel Editor-in-chief, Deputy chief executive of SPH 1986–present Director in the Ministry of Trade and Industry[31]
Ng Yat Chung Chief executive of SPH 2017– Chief of Army, Chief of Defence Force
Han Fook Kwang Editor of ST, Editor-at-large[32] 1989–present Deputy Director of Ministry of Communications (Land Transport)[19]
Janadas Devan Senior editor of ST 1997–2012 Chief of Government Communications[33]
Elgin Toh Insight editor of ST 2010-2013, 2017– Assistant director of National Security Coordination Secretariat, Prime Minister's Office

Senior assistant director of Centre for Liveable Cities, Ministry of National Development[34]

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.[35] 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.[35] Editors were bound by out of bounds markers to denote what topics are permissible for public discussion,[36] resulting in self-censorship.[37]


The Straits Times has also been criticised by netizens for sloppy and biased reporting. For instance, the newspaper repeatedly interviewed a commuter named Ashley Wu on 8 occasions within a span of 10 months, whenever the trains broke down, rather than getting fresh viewpoints from different affected commuters.[38][39] The newspaper is also known to modify and insert additional lines to op-ed contributors' works, altering the tone and message of the articles, without notifying them in advance.[40]

See also



  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. "The Straits Times / The Sunday Times (Singapore Press Holdings website)". Singapore Press Holdings. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  3. "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. "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 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  6. "The Straits times and Singapore journal of commerce". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2019-11-24.
  7. "Audit Bureau of Circulations Singapore". Retrieved 2019-11-24.
  8. "The History of Armenians in Singapore and Malaysia". Archived from the original on 2015-02-26. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  9. Giese, O., 1994, Shooting the War, Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, ISBN 1557503079
  10. "PAP and English Press". The Straits Times. 1959-04-30. Archived from the original on 2017-08-19. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  11. "Press Freedom". The Straits Times. 1959-05-19. Archived from the original on 2017-08-19. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  12. "IPI to Discuss PAP Threat Against The Straits Times". The Straits Times. 1959-05-22. Archived from the original on 2017-08-20. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  13. "'Ugly threats' are also a menace to already dwindling liberties". 1959-05-28. Archived from the original on 2017-08-19. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  14. "The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund". Archived from the original on 2019-03-02. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  15. "Our Mission -". ST Schools. Archived from the original on 2018-05-06. Retrieved 2019-11-24.
  16. "Frequently Asked Questions -". ST Schools. Archived from the original on 2017-10-07. Retrieved 2019-11-24.
  17. MarketScreener. "Singapore Press : The Straits Times' student magazine, IN, goes digital | MarketScreener". Archived from the original on 2019-03-30. Retrieved 2019-11-24.
  18. Aglionby, John (2001-10-26). "A tick in the only box". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 2017-08-13. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  19. "More young people writing to ST Forum". Archived from the original on 2017-09-16. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  20. Mydans, Seth (2011-05-05). "In Singapore, Political Campaigning Goes Viral". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2017-08-13. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  21. "Singapore Straits Times website down after hacker threat". Reuters. 2013-11-04. Archived from the original on 2017-08-13. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  22. News, ABC. "Singapore bans Chinese-American scholar as foreign agent". ABC News. Archived from the original on 2017-08-13. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  23. "Journalists Frustrated by Press Controls". Wikileaks. 2009-01-16. Archived from the original on 2017-08-13.
  24. "WikiLeaks: Significant gov't pressure put on ST editors". Archived from the original on 2017-09-08. Retrieved 2017-09-08.
  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 2017-08-13. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  27. Chua, Hian Hou. "ST editorial reshuffle to streamline, strengthen coverage". Archived from the original on 2017-09-24. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
  28. "Land Transport Authority Annual Report 2009" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-11-11. Chua Lee Hoong was with the civil service for 10 years before joining Singapore Press Holdings as a journalist in 1995.
  29. Ellis, Eric (21 June 2001). "Climate control in the Singapore Press". The Australian. Archived from the original on 24 September 2017.
  30. "Appointment of Members to The Public Transport Council | Ministry of Transport, Singapore". Archived from the original on 2017-09-24. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
  31. Yahya, Yasmine (2017-05-26). "Journalism veteran Patrick Daniel to retire as SPH deputy CEO, stay on as consultant". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 2017-08-13. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  32. "Bio on Author Han Fook Kwang" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-09-15.
  33. "Appointment to the Government Information Service". Base. Archived from the original on 2017-09-08. Retrieved 2017-09-08.
  34. "First Things First: The Question of Prioritisation in Singapore's Urban Governance Experience" (PDF). Centre for Liveable Cities. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-11-01. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  35. "Book Review: Lee Kuan Yew's Taming of the Press". Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  36. "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 2017-08-13. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  37. "The Exotic World of Singaporean Journalism - Asia Sentinel". Asia Sentinel. 2013-07-17. Archived from the original on 2017-08-13. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  38. "Transport Minister vs. "Singapore's only commuter" Ashley Wu". Archived from the original on 2017-07-31. Retrieved 2017-07-31.
  39. "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.
  40. "Straits Times modifies AWARE contributor's article for "Opinion" section, adds in lines without telling her". Archived from the original on 11 November 2017. Retrieved 12 November 2017.


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

Further reading

  • 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
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