Are Mediacorp & CNA discriminating Indians and Malays as TV anchors?
Ex BBC producer accused Mediacorp of bias in favor of fair-skinned presenters - reportedly because viewers prefer them.
So, ex-BBC World News producer and anchor (she quit in June this year), Sharanjit Leyl lamented her supposedly difficult career (because she wasn't born Chinese, by her own words) and shared that she was denied a chance at a career CNA (owned by Mediacorp) due to what she perceived as racism.
(That is even though the stated reason, by her own admission, for being denied doing televised financial updates at the time was, quote "that her eyes were too distracting" - so how was that suddenly made into racial discrimination?)
She was also allegedly told three years ago, after confronting the station's also Indian editor Walter Fernandez, about the limited number of Indian or Malay anchors in CNA, that viewers prefer light-skinned presenters (he, however, denies ever saying such a thing).
Of course, the usual gang of Sudhir Vadaketh or Kirsten Han immediately jumped on these allegations, since they can't pass up any opportunity to stir up interracial hostility. After all, Kirsten wants streets of Singapore filled with thousands of angry people like in Hong Kong…
Here’s a very “tasteful” comment by Sudhir, judging CNA anchors by the colour of their skin:
Anyway, all of the accusations are now just a matter of "he-said, she-said" - there's no actual evidence that CNA or its parent company have any rules about specific skin colour representation in its English news programs. It's her word against Mr. Fernandez' and the company's.
We do know, however, the people CNA employs at its frontlines. And we also happen to know how Sharanjit Leyl looks like. I think it's more than enough for us to judge whether she could have ever been discriminated on the basis of her skin colour being too dark.
For that purpose I have compiled a list of TV (excl. radio) CNA presenters and placed it against Ms. Leyl's photo from her own Facebook profile. It's important to state that no images have been altered for this comparison - all have been taken "as is".
I think it's pretty clear that whatever reasons there may have been for Ms. Leyl's lacklustre career in Mediacorp, it certainly wasn't skin colour, as she looks very much the same as everybody else fronting CNA programs.
Perhaps when she was younger her eyes were an issue to TV executives of the time (as she suggested) - but, again, how is that tied to race rather than just looks?
Today, despite living in Singapore and having a good career in the city, she's still claiming that for her and other minorities "one Singapore" doesn't ring true. Seriously?
So, what is this about? Why has she spoken up only now and not 3 years ago? Where is this sudden outpouring about racism coming from?
I’ll be exploring that in my next article.