Editing is not the same as censorship

Much as I dislike publicly contradicting a friend, there is no alternative.

I was the one who, when I was with The Straits Times, first edited Wei Ling's columns. Most of the pieces that appeared in her recent collection, A Hakka Woman's Singapore Stories, were edited by me.

Wei Ling now says she suffered suppression under three editors - beginning presumably with me. She has unjustly questioned the professional conduct of a number of my former colleagues as well as myself.

We are expected to believe she suffered so much oppression, writing for ST, that she willingly persisted with the experience over almost 10 miserable years. And then, at the conclusion of that prolonged period of agony, she lovingly gathered the products of her oppression into a best-selling collection of essays.


How credible can that be?

Reading Wei Ling's unedited writings was like sailing through a fog. The effort of turning her raw material into coherent articles - that's what I remember most about editing Wei Ling.

That effort was often worth it because she had something valuable to offer, as her many fans can attest. I personally thought her pieces on medical matters and education the most useful.

But hardly ever did I think that my main task in editing her was to curb what she might say on "sensitive matters". Of course, like with any writer, she was fact-checked to make sure she did not inadvertently make inaccurate or misleading statements. That's not "censorship"; that's called editing.

It beggars belief that she now presents herself as someone who was suppressed and silenced.

Janadas Devan

Former ST Associate Editor

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2016, with the headline 'Editing is not the same as censorship'. Subscribe