Two Straits Times editors disciplined amid probe into 'improper relations' with subordinate

Yahoo News Singapore understands that the two editors allegedly had relationships – over separate periods – with an SPH scholar in her 20s.
(AFP file photo)

Two senior editors at national broadsheet The Straits Times have been disciplined amid an internal inquiry into their “improper relations” with a subordinate, said Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) on Wednesday (3 October).

In a statement, the media giant – which owns the paper – said, “(SPH) convened an internal inquiry after a member of its staff from The Straits Times newsroom was hospitalised last week. She is now recovering at home.”

SPH added that it had found sufficient grounds to conclude that the two editors concerned had breached the company’s code of conduct. Both editors will face disciplinary action “commensurate with the seriousness of their actions”.

Yahoo News Singapore understands that the two editors allegedly had relationships – over separate periods – with an SPH scholar in her 20s. She worked directly under the two men in separate departments.

The editors have also apparently been told to stay away from the newsroom.

In response to queries from Yahoo News Singapore, SPH declined to comment on the reason for the subordinate’s hospitalisation and whether any police report has been made with regard to the matter.

Disciplinary actions to be taken

SPH said that one editor would be removed from his post, demoted and redeployed, while the other will be given a written warning, have his salary docked and redeployed. SPH did not disclose the names of the editors.

“Our top priority is to ensure she receives all medical attention and assistance she needs as well as to provide help to her family at this difficult time,” said SPH in reference to the subordinate in question.

“SPH takes a serious view of any transgressions of its code of conduct for its staff and will not hesitate to take appropriate measures following a full and transparent inquiry process,” the company added.

Supervisors using the posts to ‘get into relationships’

On Wednesday evening, a town hall meeting was held at the SPH office in Toa Payoh. Helmed by ST editor Warren Fernandez, it was called at the 11th hour following a report by The Online Citizen that named one of the editors.

Fernandez informed the employees that a committee of inquiry had been convened following the subordinate’s hospitalisation, when “serious allegations” were made. The committee was headed by an individual outside ST in order to ensure a “fair and transparent process” and completed its investigations on Tuesday.

In response to a staff member’s query, Fernandez said that the misconduct by the editors related to “supervisors using their positions to get into relationships”. He added that, as far as he knew, police are not investigating the matter.

‘We want to make clear that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable in the ST newsroom. Both of them have done good work in the ST newsroom… we will try our best to support them through this difficult period,” he added.

“We decided that we wouldn’t do an immediate termination… largely because of the good work they’ve done.”

Fernandez also acknowledged that staff would face many questions from their friends on the matter.

“Tell them that this is not what the ST newsroom is about. We have respect for our staff and we don’t treat staff in an untoward way,” he said.

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