atans1

Posts Tagged ‘Public Communications’

Govt, activists score own goals

In Public Administration on 03/01/2014 at 6:09 am

(Or “The govt is its own worst enemy: it can’t communicate the right facts”)

Recently  I blogged on why Scrooge the Grinch government can do more, a lot more to help the manual workers who gift us S$2.5bn++ a year.

But on the use of the deportation law on alleged “rioters”; I’m on the govt’s side with one important caveat.  The cavaet is: What the hell were the police commissioner and DPM Teo talking about?

– [The Police Commissioner] explained that this group is less “culpable” than those who were charged, as the latter were “active participants” in the riot, “violent” and “had attacked uniformed personnel and vehicles, damaged property, and had incited others to do so”. So what did they actually do?

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean noted that those who were to be repatriated had “impeded the riot control and emergency rescue operations” and that “their actions and conduct had threatened public order,  Did they or did not riot?

I looked up what the official statement and only then I understood why there were deportations, not charges for most of those detained: they were alleged rioters that the police considered should be treated more leniently (those charged can be jailed and caned if convicted).

Group Two consists of 53 persons whom Police has identified to have participated in the riot and who failed to disperse despite Police’s orders to do so. They had knowingly joined or continued to participate in the riot, after being ordered to disperse, impeding the riot control and emergency rescue operations. Their actions and conduct had threatened public order, thus making their continued presence in Singapore undesirable. They were all rounded up in a Police operation in the early hours of this morning. They will be repatriated after being issued a stern warning. They will be prohibited from returning to Singapore.

The Police Commissioner and DPM Teo, scholars both, should be ashamed of their explanations which only made it easier for the activists to attack the govt. And s/o of Devan Nair is not doing doing his job as the govt’s PR man.

Coming back to the deportees, fair enough that they are deported  without judicial “due process” as far as I’m concerned for two reasons.

Firstly, as someone posted on Facebook, ” Rightly or wrongly, deportation is more lenient than jail and caning.” A lot more, so is it fair to insist as the kay pohs do that the courts must be involved in “due process”? One could even argue that the govt is being easy on “alleged” rioters.

Next, given that he has shown himself as a most compassionate chap, I’m sure the Pet minister is ensuring that the ministerial discretion of banishing people from S’pore is fairly exercised, and with appropriate regard for non-judical due process. I’ll go on to assert that he has ensured that the police behave fairly, and with appropriate regard for due process (non-judical), when investigating the cases which result in banishment orders.

Though I must admit charging a few people, then not proceeding with the cases and then allowing them to be given “discharges not amounting to acquittals, then deporting them look slip-shod. They shouldn’t have been charged, juz deportrd. And if, as happened,  they were charged, and the police then realised that officers had made “honest mistakes”, the police should have asked for “discharges not amounting to acquittals”, and then deported them. That would have prevented the usual anti-govt activists from shouting “acquitted but still deported”. Technically, the kay pohs are right, though the govt has a point when it says the “acquittals” did not result from trials, but by the police withdrawing charges. I suspect the police tot, “Heck these guys are not coming back here, so might as well allow discharges amounting to acquittals”: little knowing that the kay pohs would seize on this technicality to agitate against the govt.

Given his track record on looking after the interests of dogs even where a possible dog killer is a FT (example), the HR kay pohs should cut him a lot of slack. Now if the minister was the ACS boy who sneered at elderly, poor S’poreans, I’d agree that the kay pohs have a point about the need of ensuring that justice is done. Hey but this is a most compassionate minister (he loves dogs and, even cats) from RI, not an ACS rich kid. What more do they want?

And there is still the possibility of judicial review, shumething that kick ass, take-no-prisoners superhero M Ravi is pursuing in  several cases. So kay pohs should sit down and shut up.

No trust police and Pet Minister is it? AG should think of suing said activists for making defamatory innuendos about the minister and the police.

By now I’m sure you know that I’m no supporter of using a bit of billions the manual workers gift us to pay for “due process” for the deportees. We have to do right by the manual workers, but there are limits, something the kay pohs seem to refuse to acknowledge. I’m sure in their heart of hearts, they want the detainees to be detained in a 5-star hotel with access to the best lawyers, all at the expense of  us tax-payers. Their ang Moh masters mentors would expect no less.

If the anti-govt kay pohs really cared about the migrant workers they should have been advocating and campaigning from yrs ago that some spare change from the S$2.4 bn++ that the govt gets from the manual workers goes to helping them: without them S’pore would have to pay more, a lot more, for labour intensive jobs. Instead, the said activists want the spare change to be used on judicial “due process”. Some thing is not right about their priorities?

As I pointed out in the earlier piece, there could be a medical insurance fund, and a general welfare fund. BTW, a SDP doctor tells me that the SDP healthcare plan (involving an insurance fund and comprehensive coverage) would cover manual FTs (all FTs in fact) too. Before GG and friends, and TRE readers get upset with the SDP, they should remember that the SDP has also called for a policy of putting locals first and tightening the use of FTs by businesses.

Let me end by returning to said kay pohs: substitute the term “activists” for “management” in the following quote from a famous American psychologist* and you will know why I’m uneasy about their motives and actions: “This is what I get  vaguely uneasy about in the reading on management, namely a certain piety, certain semireligious attitudes, an unthinking, unreasoning, a priori kind of ‘liberalism’ which frequently takes over as a determinant, thereby to some extent destroying the possibility of maintaining the sensitivity to the objective requirements of the actual, realistic situation.”

*Update at 8.43 am on # January 2014:

Think I’m unfair on the activists? Yesterday, I wrote: Here’s an interesting piece from a TRE reader on the appropriateness of the original venue of its seminar on “the struggle for workers’rights”. . I agree with the sentiments expressed within it, though to be fair to Maruah the date of said seminar was on 23 December. Somehow I don’t think that there would be many FTs in the area on a Monday. One of these days I’ll blog on why Maruah and the police deserve each other: both have lousy public communication skills, though the police’s skills iare a lot better than Yaacob’s finest, who only know how to slime.

They may be anti-govt, but we shouldn’t be on their side juz ’cause they got the balls to take on the govt publicly. Their actions and motives have to be analysed and scrutinised, juz like the govt’s, even though we should not hold them to the standards we expect of the govt. They don’t have the resources of the govt.

*Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. Wikipedia

2014: Advice for Oppo, activists and investors

In Financial competency on 01/01/2014 at 6:41 am

My X’mas, New Yr  pressie to readers: 2 quotes that will serve them well as investors in 2014. The second one will also serve the Oppo and kay pohs well.

… fairly conservative investor, strongly believing in the combination of traditional valuation methods and charts – always looking at the balance sheet first and then analyzing the charts over 20, 50, 100, and 200 days.

http://pinkerspost.com/post.php

“The only way that individual investors can be heard in a situation like this* is to collaborate and try to get attention. There are so many other interested parties trying to get their points across that it’s the only way they can have a voice, ” says Mark Taber, a British individual investor, who has led three successful campaigns against banks.

(But I doubt asking SIAS to get involved amounts to collaboration.)

And collaboration applies to the Opposition and kay pohs too, though sadly the WP is very clear that it’s the PAP’s co-driver not part of any coalition against the PAP govt. Though I am willing to give Low, Ah Lian and Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap that they don’t have ministerial ambitions unlike PritamS. As to Auntie and Show Mao, one senses they think they are meant for better things than juz MPs.

As for attention, the kay pohs should think again of their attention-seeking attempts. I often feel that there is too much aping of Western PR techniques. I plan to go into detail later this yr, but here’s the essence: Western HR PR tactics are premised on the assumptions that:

– the public knows and cares about the causes of the PR effort. In S’pore this may not be the case. Take the case of migrant workers arrested for “rioting”: while the kay pohs focus on “due process” and poor working conditions; the posters on TRE focus on being anti-PAP even while supporting deportation for alleged rioters, and low wages for manual workers.

– changing opinion (esp among the chattering classes) can have an effect: govts do listen. In S’pore govt hasn’t ever listened, even when votes are at stake (OK, this is a bit of an exaggeration). NatCon double confirms this view of an unlistening govt.

Infocomm Dysfunctional Authority

In Infrastructure, Internet, Public Administration on 22/11/2013 at 5:01 am

Yaacob the Info minister wrote on Facebook a few days ago that many agencies have worked hard in the past weeks to strengthen the security of Singapore’s computer systems and websites*, and those responsible for the recent hacking incidents have been arrested or are being investigated**.

Taz gd, but what about making sure that IDA works hard and competently to give the public info on cyber security accurately, and in a timely manner? Rather than inaccurately, and only after cyber leaks and DRUMS.

Going by its recent ingloriously track record, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) should be renamed   Inforomm Dysfunctional Authority  because it’s so dysfunctional  in communicating info on cyber security and ICT matters.

It can’t even explain to our constructive, nation-building local journalists that the PMO’s website was not hacked. Granted that our well-paid hacks are not the most intelligent people in S’pore, but surely Yaacob’s finest could have told them in simple English, “PMO’s website was not hacked into”?

Singapore ICT regulator Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) was cited by local media reports to blame a vulnerability in Google’s search bar, embedded in the two websites, as the cause of the breach. In a media briefing to which only local media were invited …

… a Google spokesperson told ZDNet in an e-mail Wednesday: “It has come to our attention that the PMO’s website recently experienced an attack in the search functionality of the site run by Google’s Custom Search Engine site-search widget.

“After investigation, it appears that the code in the Google custom search engine is safe and the vulnerability lies with the coding on the webpage.”

While IDA declined to comment further on this issue as it is currently under police investigation, ZDNet understands the regulator was misquoted in local news reports. Rather than Google’s search bar, it had instead pointed to a vulnerability in the search function which the hackers were able to exploit and redirect visitors to the external webpages.

(http://www.zdnet.com/sg/google-denies-its-search-bar-caused-singapore-websites-breach-7000023129/)

At the very least, IDA gave the impression that our cybersecurity machinery was the equivalent of the flood prevention team  when Yaacob was “flooder-in-chief”.

Now onto an earlier, and more major, failure to communicate. Remember the Saturday a few weeks ago when govt websites suddenly closed for “routine maintenance’? Although they were soon up, netizens suspicions were aroused and they started playing DRUMS in the absence of authoritative info.

And they were correct to think that there problems, only not hacking but cock-ups.

Only on Monday evening (after a memo surfaced on the internet), IDA admitted the problems in accessing several Singapore government websites over the weekend were due to technical problems that arose during maintenance on Saturday afternoon. While the glitches have been rectified, people accessing these websites may continue to face intermittent access as maintenance was still ongoing.

In this day and age, IDA should communicate openly with the public. After all, this is not North Korea, even if our media ratings are close to that of the North Koreans than that to the US or UK.

I leave it to this blogger who wrote before IDA admitted that there were cock-ups, not juz “routine maintenance” to explain what I mean:

“It’s strange that the IDA did not deem it fit to update people more regularly when so many sites were out of service. Not only were they unable to transact, say, on SingPass, they were also wondering if indeed a cyber attack had been carried out against government agencies, as part of a bigger wave of attacks.

Ironically, the IDA can look at the way SingTel updated its customers in the hours after a fire at a telephone exchange just weeks ago. Though the damage was way bigger, angering a lot more customers, at least they knew what was going on.

And fall short, it definitely did this time. While there is speculation on why and how the sites could have been down, one thing is clear – this maintenance caused the sites to go down longer than expected.

That itself reflects badly on the nation’s cyber security efforts. “Self pwn” is the phrase that comes to mind when you bring down your own networks inadvertently.”

(http://www.techgoondu.com/2013/11/03/commentary-should-maintenance-bring-down-government-websites-for-hours/#.Ungbl1Nfp-d)

Recently, CNA reported, Singapore’s Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence Wong, has said that countries in Asia need to adapt to emerging trends in social media, in order to get the new generation more engaged in literature and the arts.

Maybe he sould have a talk with  Yaacob and s/o Devan Nair who seem clueless about the effect of social media and the internet on public communications and PR in general. Strange this cluelessness, given their roles in govt as public communicators and PR. or they juz there for wayang.

One final tot. I’m surprised that neither GG nor TRE nor TOC tot it fit to ask if the people responsible for website security in general or the maintenance cock-ups, in particular,  were FTs or true-blue S’poreans.

This blogger has argued we need a S’porean core in cyber security.

One “career path” often joked about, but taken somewhat seriously, is to get into an IT management role in a bank then outsource the dirty work to vendors, sit back and enjoy a Dilbert moment every day.

Now, when that dirty work is cyber security, there is a problem. It’s an area where you can’t be an expert without getting your hands dirty. Yes, there are security solutions out there to tap on, but it is important to know your own servers well. How can you secure your home if you don’t know where the holes are in your fences?

Similarly, when it comes to defending national infrastructure, it pays to have a ready pool of experts, with actual hands-on experience.

This work cannot be easily outsourced, since it may involve getting access to sensitive information, say, military secrets. A Singaporean core, to borrow the government’s term, may be needed in such as an operation.

http://www.techgoondu.com/2013/11/12/commentary-singapore-hacking-cases-show-importance-of-deep-infocomm-expertise/comment-page-1/#.Uofv9idfp-c

But will our FT-loving govt listen? Worse it seems the govt’s model of “Talent is two-timing new citizen Raj or Tammy’s killer or the FTs that beat up S’poreans and then fled S’pore (one was even given PR after the beating), or a violent, cheating PRC shop assistant, or PRC hawkers or a looney, violent bank director.

*“A quote from a decade and a half ago: ‘Secure web servers are the equivalent of heavy armoured cars. The problem is, the roads are subject to random detours, anyone with a screwdriver can control the traffic lights and there are no police.’”
—Richard Guy Briggs on “Besieged”, Nov 9th 2013

**Taz before the latest reported hack of schools’ sites and a local museum’s mailing list was made public in NZ. Don’t know if you notice, but the local media is downplaying the security implications of the hacks by making them sound trivial.The schools’ hack is “defacement” and the mailing list was described as being on the website. The Hard Truth is that in these cases, servers were broken into.

This is in contrast to the “hack”of PMO’s site which was over-sensationalised. (There was no hack there as reported above. In the PMO’s case, at no time was there any server intrusion. The server was secure.) One wonders if IDA has finally educated the hacks on the basics of cyber security or did it order them to downplay the hacks as the hacks would imply that contrary to Yaacob’s comments about working hard to fix security issues, the cyber security teams are not working hard, or worse, working hard incompetently.


Ingratitude, uniquely S’porean? Blame the internet? Not really

In India, Internet, Political governance on 06/09/2013 at 5:15 am

The irony is the opposition made gains where there is almost full employment, the country peaceful and prosperous.

(http://www.pressrun.net/weblog/2013/08/singapore-prime-ministers-and-election-results.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rana+%28pressrun.net%29 I commend this blogger who usually has interesting, unpredectible perspectives. Not one of the usual suspects, whose rants can be surmised even without reading their articles: juz scan the titles.)

The govt in Norway is expected to lose an election on 9th September, even though eonomic growth was at 2.6% year-on-year in the second quarter and unemployment at just 3.4%, while the current-account surplus is huge: nearly 14% of GDP.

One could argue that because things are so gd, people are willing to take risks, experiment.

When times are bad, if the ones suffering badly are a smallish minority, and the majority, while unhappy, are fearful of what can happen, the majority of voters will opt for “Better the devil we know” We saw that in 2001 when an election was called after 9/11. If Islamic terrorists could successfully attack Metropolis, which place was safe? And if there was a resulting global recession, who better than the PAP to handle it for S’pore? Certainly better than JBJ’s lot, even though the WP had juz kicked JBJ out as leader.

But the classic example was UK during the early yrs of Thatcher’s tenure. Despite massive unemployment she won a second term (helped by winning a war). The unemployed voted against her, but those with jobs trusted her govt more than they did the opposition Labour party, which was seen as incompetent economically (strikes, IMF loan when it was governing).

Connected with the issue of experimentation when times are gd, is that people get tired of the same govt. The present Norwegian govt has been in power since 2005. As the PAP has been in power since 1959 (UMNO and allies in M’sia since 1957), it’s a testament to their tenacity and public goodwill that the PAP and UMNO are still in power. Even the LDP in Japan has lost power for two spells before regaining it.

The author of the above quote puts the unpopularity of the S’pore govt to the internet:

The internet seems to have been a game-changer. In the first post-Twitter general election, in 2011, the People’s Action Party (PAP) won only 60.1 per cent of the vote, its lowest share since independence, while the opposition secured six seats, more than ever before. (Twitter was launched only in 2006.)

He has a point because the internet

… proved a real pest,
Critics online all the time,
How do you make ‘em toe the line?

But let’s not forget. In the last GE 60% voted for the PAP. Taz a gd majority by any standard except that of the PAP itself and S’poreans. Remember, we used to give it 70-over % of the popular vote, and all the seats in parliament in the 70s.

True the PAP’s “preferred” candidate won the PE by a very short nose. But the man that nearly became president was someone that for many S’poreans (self included) exemplified what many S’poreans liked about the PAP Old Guard: principled, meritocratic, technocratic, smart (academically and street-wise), no wayang, no pretensions and compassionate: not sneering, complacent, privileged, incompetent and self-serving snob. Even the PAP’s preferred candidate belonged to the Old Guard, even if he had a privileged background: in fact many of the Old Guard had privileged backgrounds, they juz didn’t behave like a certain sneerer. Tony Tan juz didn’t get my vote because he was the “preferred” candidate. But if it had been between him, TJS and TKL (ex-PAP too), I’d voted for Tony Tan.

The next candidate, TJS, had only 25% of the vote. This is in line with the hard core opposition vote that emerges in any constituency an opposition candidate appears, even a looney one.

What the internet has allowed, is to give amplification to the voices of the hard core opposition supporters. They were never silent but the exclusion of their voices from the constructive, nation-building local media meant that they could only communicate in a less than effective way most of the time to other die-hards and ordinary S’poreans.

Ordinary S’poreans now realise that these voices are not demon voices because like the hard core opposition voters, they too have grievances, doubts etc. They now know, they are not alone.

The power of the internet and the govt’s concern that it is losing the commanding heights of public communications are best illustrated by P Ravi’s reposting on Facebook about the availability of the masks: that the public were not going to get it despite repeated govt assurances to the contrary, and the govt’s heavy-handed reaction. This reposting was enough to get him accused of spreading misinformation.

P Ravi’s defence when the govt accused him spreading misinformation about the distribution of masks, was that he sharing with his Facebook friends (1000 over if you must know), giving the govt feedback, and seeking clarification from the govt: rather contradictory assertions. Why the govt didn’t ridicule these contradictions is beyond me. Instead, Yaacob, a civil servant and the constructive, nation-building media beat the drums to the tune of RAVII*, making him a hero and martyr to the hostiles on the internet and, in particular on social media. My posts on this

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/p-ravis-reposting-what-the-govt-should-have-done/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/reason-why-govt-fears-keyboard-warriors/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/is-the-pap-leopard-baring-his-fangs-and-unsheathing-his-claws/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/telling-gd-info-from-bad-the-secret-police-way/

So nope, the desire to experiment when things are gd, isn’t unique to S’pore. Nor is the internet the cause of the unpopularity. Even when the PAP had 70ish % of the popular vote, the balance voted for the opposition.

And 35% of the population like the values of the PAP Old Guard, they juz don’t like the way the PAP has developed in the 1990s and noughties. All this means that those who want change cannot afford to be complacent esp as there is going to be a party that’s going to be gd for the Party i.e. the PAP.

*Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications, Insinuations & Insults. Minister Shan talks of criticising ministers n the “right” way (E-Jay’s take). Well, what Yaacob and a civil servant did to Ravi, and what VivianB did to various people including the elderly poor doesn’t set gd examples for the public, do they?

P Ravi’s reposting: What the govt should have done

In Internet, Public Administration on 24/07/2013 at 5:21 am

Regular readers will know that in a piece about the “right politics” that the PAP plays:.

Penultimately, in case anyone is wondering, I don’t think it was “dirty” politics … for Yaacob to rough up P* Ravi. Those who live by the sword like … P Ravi must accept that they can kanna cut or die too. Fair is fair. Cannot expect to use keyboard or mouth to attack others, and not not expect others to respond. And they should remember that bullies in real life often don’t back off but instead respond disproportionately.

These were gd “clean” politics.

Recently, I met someone in corporate communications who didn’t like what the govt is doing to P Ravi.. He, as a social activist and a believer in human rights advocacy, disagreed that the govt’s response was proportionate, especially the forum letter that appeared after my above remarks. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, why are you reading my blog?)

He said that after P Ravi had posted his comments on his Facebook wall, and the govt was alerted to it by worried S’poreans, it should have posted a reply to his reposting on his wall, setting out the facts, and asking him to correct or remove his posting. Putting its reply on a govt website was not the best response.He said he didn’t know about that response, until I told him about it. He had been going on about the unfairness of Ravi being singled out in parliament by a minister before I pointed out that the govt had issued a rebuttal on a govt website.

I think this gd-hearted kay poh, who incidentally wants convicted drug dealers treated humanely, has a very valid point on the govt not answering directly to Ravi’s comments (He reposted, so he owns the comments, so pls no “Reposting only” BS) on his Facebook wall.

This is something that should be included in Yaacob’s SOP on handling haze public communications: responding in a timely manner on the same platform as the query or allegation, not via another platform. In fact, this should be in the SOP on the handling of any query or allegation, whether well-intended, plain kay poh or malicious. Anyway, the intention is another issue that can and should be handled separately. It is of secondary importance.

Responding in a timely manner on the same platform as the query or allegation, not via another platform, is a very good way of coping with, “A lie can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on.”, something any government or corporation is rightly paranoid about. Incidentally this remark was said in the late 60s, or in the 70s by James Callahan who was British PM in the late 70s: pre-internet age.

Now a lie can be round the world a hundred fold, before the truth has got its Christian Louboutinhigh heels on.

I hope that both the govt and P Ravi have learnt lessons from this balls-up and move on. Fortunately, no-one died and it turned out to be a Tweedledum and Tweedledee row:

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
    Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
    Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
    As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
    They quite forgot their quarrel.

Tennieldumdee.jpg

Sadly I think the govt is planning to extract its “pound of flesh”. Hopefully, I’m wrong ’cause I know P Ravi personally. He is a decent, well meaning guy who means nobody any harm. I don’t think rumour-mongering was on his mind when he reposted the said comments.

Update on 17 December: I am wrong, as at time of writing, on the govt extracting its “pound of flesh”. May I continue to be wrong. Merry Christmas to all, PAPpies included.

 

What the pope can teach our PM and police

In Political governance on 20/03/2013 at 5:40 am

No not taking public transport*: the Pope used to do so when he was the Argie cardinal, but the importance of public communication:

The Jesuits, missionaries and educators, are trained to be expert communicators and it is significant that among the first people summoned to meet the new Pope at his hotel suite this morning was fellow Jesuit Father Lombardi – official Vatican spokesperson, head of Vatican Radio (run for many years by the Jesuits) and of the Vatican Press Office.

Under Pope Benedict, Father Lombardi was a mere functionary who had no direct access to the pontiff.

He could not pick up the phone and talk things through quickly with Benedict himself. He received orders from the Vatican Secretariat of State and briefed the press accordingly. All that has changed overnight.

Pope Francis has already decided he will meet the world’s media who have arrived in their thousands to cover the papal election at a special audience on Saturday morning.

This shows a vivid awareness that prayer may not be enough to deal with the situation facing the Catholic Church at this critical moment in its long history. Public relations will be a priority at a particularly sensitive moment of papal transition. Extract from BBC Online.

So when I read  the article “Govt will need to be more open, says PM”. (Sunday Times, Mar 17),which went on: “the Government will become more transparent to adapt to society today, even if politics becomes untidy and its outcomes less predictable”; I thought maybe a good step would be to bring in a Jesuit FT** as the govt’s public communications adviser? Local talent s/o Devan Nair, once a very senior keyboard-wielding Imperial Storm Trooper, the chief of govt communications, seems to have gone AWOL.

Witness the bad PR our SPF is having to face in its investigations of the death of Shane Todd. No-one to blame except the PR people in govt or the SPF: witness  a mealy-mouthly letter that is so ambiguous that it can be used as evidence of incompetency:

“In the course of its investigation, the Police had examined the deceased’s computers and a hard disk drive. This disk drive was subsequently handed over, with acknowledgement, to the next-of-kin. Should the next-of-kin be in possession of other evidence, they should provide it to the Police to assist in their investigations.”

http://www.spf.gov.sg/mic/2013/130220_reply_article_others.htm

This was written to the FT which reported the parents allegation that they had found a hard drive lying around (implying police incompetency or worse). There seems in this letter to be an insinuation that it is the same hard drive, and that the parents are lying. But didn’t dare not say so because it could be a different hard drive: the police just don’t know.

A well written letter would have said the police now want to establish if this is the same hard drive that was handed to the parents, and offer to provide the FT with details of the hard drive it (the police) handed over so that the FT could establish whether it was the same or different hard drive.

*But if PM had taken public tpt, he would have realised that Ms Saw and Raymond Lim were making misleading statements on the state of public transport: blaming commuters for having unreasonable expectations. Turned out commuters were right to complain of overcrowded public transport, especially of trains. Our money that the govt is throwing at the problem is proof that us commuters were right, and Saw and Raymond Lim were misrepresenting the situation.

**I don’t think there any any S’porean Jesuits. Any S’porean capable of becoming a Jesuit ends up as a scholar.

So SPF didn’t pursue “every lead and examine the different angles thoroughly”?

In Political governance on 15/03/2013 at 6:02 am

Until the US told S’pore to,”wake up yr ideas”?

Oh the shame of being a S’porean. Our SPG SPF investigators are negligent, blind as bats, not trained to recognise PC peripherals or just plain dumb. And this is after the failure to put a terrorist fugitive’s close relative’s home under surveillance (he dropped in to hide), after a senior police man tot nothing of having an affair that he publicly admitted, and where an investigator is undergoing disciplinary proceedings for a possible ang moh kaw tua kee attitude.

A few weeks ago, I was reading my Saturday FT. There was a long story on a death by hanging of a young American scientist here. As I was reading the story, it was clear that his parents were kicking up a fuss, saying that the S’pore police was not doing a good job investigating the death (they still do). Well they were in grief, that was to be expected, and given what they were alleging, some really wacko stuff, that their allegations of police failures had to be discounted. This is S’pore, not Hicksville USA or some third world country. I was going to give up reading the piece and complain to FT about the trash they were reporting.

Then I read that our police investigators did not secure a hard drive. The dead American’s parents said it was lying on a table in full view of anyone in the room, that they didn’t know what it was, but took it away anyway, then found out that it was a hard drive that contained files from his office PC (and which now our police want access to).

The fact that our police failed to secure a hard drive made me understand his parents apprehensions and anger: we were Hicksville USA or some third world country, and the FT was right to report the story. The police had secured his PC and mobile phone but not a hard drive that was allegedly in full view on a table. If the police could be so sloppy, or worse, anything is possible. As the Population White Paper shows, a sloppy, slip-shod, careless mistake can undermine any attempt to be authoritative http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/population-white-paper-2030-will-resemble-1959/.

We S’poreans have been told by govt ministers, PAP MPs and an NMP (who was a PAPpie once) that bitching too loud about the policy of letting in FTs by the cattle-truck load, was not good for S’pores image, and could jeopardise economic growth because FTs will be scared away.

How come the same people don’t complain that incompetent police investigation could jeopardise our economy? I mean Foreign Talents may not want to live in a place where the police can’t secure a hard drive (which they now say could contain important evidence).

Now the SPF has invited the FBI to help it, something that it had earlier resisted. In a statement, our embassy in the U.S said that the investigation that began with the Todd death in June is “still ongoing and the Singapore Police will pursue every lead and examine examine the different angles thoroughly.” Not done before? An “honest mistake”? More likely, an avoidable mistake.

Then CNA reported Singapore’s Foreign Minister K Shanmugam said authorities are “committed to getting to the bottom” of the death of an American researcher in Singapore last year … Speaking in Washington, Mr Shanmugam said Singapore has invited the United States to audit the relationship between Todd’s employer, the Institute of Microelectronics, and the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

This is total abject surrender by S’pore of its sovereign rights. Might as well accede to the parents’ demand that the FBI supervise our SPF’s investigation? Surprised that these country folk, didn’t demand that the SEALs, Delta Force and the Marines invade S’pore to forcibly secure their son’s body and possessions?

Sorry, I forgot that our boys in blue really goofed up, and added unnecessary mental anguish to the grieving parents. Death of a child is hard to take: the possibility that he may have committed suicide is even harder to take. Best to go into denial and blame it on a conspiracy.

The least DPM Teo can do to limit damage to the police’s image locally and internationally, is to announce publicly that the members of the team that initially investigated the hanging have been replaced*. Pigs would fly first though sadly, even though I have heard on the grapevine that there have changes in the team that originally investigated the hanging. This being the PAP govt, it refuses to acknowledge that anything can go wrong in govt, until  too late.
And would Mrs Chiam or a PAP MP ask DPM Teo the outcome, if any, of the internal police disciplinary inquiry into the conduct of the investigator who, on the face of it, took a tidak apa, ang moh tua kee attitude when two true blue S’poreans were brutally assaulted by three ang moh caws? Two of whom skipped bail, one of whom got PR status after the assault. Another “honest mistake”?
====
*And announce that the same team that visited film-maker Lynn Lee’s home at night, to secure her handphone and laptop because the police were investigating a film she made where PRC FT  SMRT drivers alleged that they were mistreated by the police. Now they are on the bola, zealous cops.

AIM: Taz what netizens & WP should do

In Political governance on 01/01/2013 at 6:06 pm

– Don’t any how fire & volvo

The PAP,made flesh in Dr Teo Ho Pin, and the constructive, nation-building media are “throwing smoke”, trying to confuse S’poreans on the issues around AIM.

The sad thing is all the noise about AIM being a $2 co, or not having the expertise etc that is coming from many of us  “cowboys”, is distracting S’poreans from the four issues that matter:

– As Aljunied GRC seems to be one of the GRCs that paid for the development costs of the software that was transferred to AIM, how come AIM can cancel contract if a GRC moves on to the Jedi (OK, OK, I exaggerate) from the Dark Side of the Men in White? Sure it’s in contract, but is this ethically or morally correct? Didn’t LKY say we are a Confucian society? Ethically behaviour is expected.

– Is the WP being fixed by being deprived of AIM’s services? And what are the implications if there is a change of govt? Will the civil service, armed forces, police and government agencies cancel contracts with the new govt? From what happened with AIM’s contract, sounds reasonable to assume this.

– What is the service level agreement (SLA) in the leasing? This includes questions such as what levels of help desk and technical support, how many staff will be providing support, or is AIM outsourcing the support to another company?

[Update: Straits Times reported today that service was 'outsourced' from AIM back to NCS, and the TCs must know this intention when awarding the contract. So the questions are why would they allow that having terminated NCS's services themselves, and what value does AIM add as the middleman. They have to come clean or face accusations of some sort of 'round-tripping'.]

– Can a contract between PAP town councils and a company 100%-owned by former PAP MPs be considered arm’s length? Should it be allowed at all to avoid even the slightest appearance of any potential conflict of interest?

The points in Italics are from Void Decker who has a great piece on this matter: he is on target.

The WP never made allegations about whether AIM was a $2 co or its competency. It tried to focus (in its unfocused, dysfunctional way*), I think, on the first  two issues that shld concern us.

Sadly netizens are not focusing on the substantive issues. Partly it’s because of the hols and because CNY is coming in February.

But the WP is at fault too: its public communications team is a clone of that of Team PAP. Maybe Team Wayang Wankers should ask help from the real Opposition: Team SDP; Ravi the do-gooder (even if he from NSP); TOC (even if it’s undergoing editor change again*); or TRE. Or even TJS.

These are people who know how to communicate effectively with the public. BTW, only KennethJ*** is worse at communicating with the public than Team PAP and the Wayang Wankers.

“Target 50m ahead. At own time and pace, open fire. Make every shot count. Beng Pek mah?

——————-

*Show Mao is not pulling his weight, not being allowed to, or maybe he not that savvy? Will explore this later in yr, in “The AWOL, MIA of Show Mao”. Maybe Low and Sylvia were playing bait and switch, like investment bankers, and time-sharing salesmen?

As to the other two lawyers in Team Wankers Wayang, Sylvia got only so-so NUS law degree while PritamS got his from a crappy place, SMU Law School.

**New chief editor soon. It will by then have run through two Indian chiefs (they are actually Tamils, not Native Americans, or Aryans) in less than 11 months. Then there is the disappearance from TOC’s establishment, in 2011, of two ex-WP cadres and activists, Goh Meng Seng**** (Head of the Chinese Section) and Eric Tan (Managing Editor and then investigative editor). AWOL, MIA, or posts abolished: who knows?

But one of the co-founders is still active in editorially. So there is continuity.

****But then he speak in ang moh accent, don’t know the Pledge and was from Saint Andrews: the school where boys have two rugby props on each of their of shoulders. But despite having cips on his shoulders, a Saints rugby captain says on Facebook that KennethJ is not a Saints. More on this later in the year.

****Also ex-NSP member. Anything else he was member of?

LKY gets kicked in the balls

In Financial competency, Footie, Humour on 08/11/2012 at 10:28 am

“I’ve seen their property values going up, five times, 10 times, 15 times, 20 times,” our MSM reported him as saying recently.

This is what the SDP said in response, “Yes, and what for? To feel rich? Under the SDP Plan, Singaporeans don’t just have to feel rich. They can have their NOM flats and not be indebted for the rest of their lives. They can have financial security and lead fulfilling lives.” http://yoursdp.org/news/sdp_responds_to_lee_kuan_yew_on_housing/2012-11-07-5435

No comment about about SDP’s plans (this is what ST reported “experts” say): thinking about it. But it sure got great PR people team. Maybe PAP or govt should offer them jobs? MP Baey should recruit them for his firm? Can’t be good for H&R’s local and Asean practice that SDP is running rings round PAP and govt? The Dark Side can offer serious money, unlike the SDP. Unless of course, the rumours of CIA funding are not true. An SDP groupie assures me that CIA funding rumours are juz rumours. SDP as poor as Anglican church mice. Catholic church mice got serious money, what with Tony Tan (the president, not Hazel Poa’s hubbie) and George Yeo as members. Goes without saying that Methodist mice got $. Think Ng Eng Hen and wife (SingHeath CEO), and TJS’s in-laws.

SMRT: $15,000 not enough

In Infrastructure on 07/11/2012 at 7:26 am

Talk of bad PR.

When I read that the Thai gal sued SMRT, I didn’t think much of her case. I tot that she should have accepted reasonable compensation and moved on.

But when I read that SMRT says that its $15,000 offer was “unprecedented”, I tot what a dumb, mean company.

I don’t know waz a fair amount would be taking into account her injuries and that it isn’t SMRT’s fault. But $15,000 is not it. Its legal costs would easily exceed $100,000.

I had been looking to buy shares in SMRT, but I’ll give it a miss for the time being. Want to see if mgt changes are working.

Anyway, hopefully the FT brought in to replace an ex-SAF officer will do something to change SMRT’s bad record in public communications. The SAF officer said once “Better you die, than damage SMRT property”.  Ya I exaggerate, but that was the message he gave when a commuter smashed a glass panel to let air into a train stuck in a tunnel.

When SPH & DBS team up well, S’pore Inc can be Awesome

In Banks, Media, S'pore Inc on 10/01/2012 at 5:51 am

If anyone thinks that SPH’s publications have lost their clout because of new media, citing the bad reception that Pay Wayang, SMRTgate and PondingGate got from the public despite these publications spinning all the way for the White Side, the way that they covered DBS’s CloneGate shows their clout, even in the age of new media.

Customers were reassured, and the usual moaners were ignored by the public even though DBS is part of the Temasek Group (that S’poreans love to hate partly because its CEO is the wife of the PM), and the public and its customers often view DBS as dysfunctional.

SPH’s publications when combined with an effective public communications strategy is a fearsome tool.

DBS got its strategy right, moving “quickly to assure customers that their losses will be covered and investigations are underway. Experts were immediately put on air not to put a spin on why it’s not a big deal, but rather explain concisely how the scam probably occurred and is being carried out,” Words of the Cze. (If it had tried to weasel its way out, I for one would have asked how come the data theft could have occured at two high traffic ATMs, and why OCBC or UOB were not hit first? Why was DBS so dysfunctional?)

Don’t believe me? Reading ST (and MediaCorp’s freesheet) even I tot DBS was being generous in quickly compensating its customers until I read this in ST’s Forum. It reminded me (a trained lawyer who did a lot of banking legal work) that  it was DBS that lost money, not the affected customers, “When someone deposits money with a bank, he is in effect lending money to it. Property rights to the money pass to the bank. In return, the bank owes its customer a debt. At that point, any money stolen or pilfered from the bank is its money, not its customer’s,” SMU academic. (BTW, I get the impression that a very impt KPI for SMU academics is how often they are quoted in the local MSM. One wonders if they have time to do other things.)

The PAP, SMRT and PUB did not get their public communications strategy right (see the above link on what PUB and SMRT did wrong) and SPH could not play its traditional constructive, nation-building role in helping out the White Side.

Coming back to DBS. When its CEO early last week ( his second anniversary at DBS) came out boasting of his achievements, I tot, “Nemesis” and “What bad news is he foreshadowing?”. Well Nemesis has struck and DBS has reacted very, very well to what could have been a major public relations fiasco. As to the bad news, “Watch and wait”.

But DBS is no longer dysfunctional. Could it be a turnaround situation, worth investing in? In Q3 2011, DBS’s return on equity was ahead of OCBC and UOB. BTW I own Haw Par shares which is a play on UOB.

PAP: Another Unnecessary Self-Inflicted Social Media Injury

In Political governance on 09/01/2012 at 5:40 am

Well Grace Fu’s actions have confirmed that the PAP still has problems using social media, showing that Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad (he is on PAP committee tasked to tame the Internet) was talking rubbish late last year when he boasted, “The first few years were about the PAP sensing the platforms and understanding how to use it. Now it’s really (about) how to use these platforms for political mileage and political advantage.” (Emphasis mine)

Grace Fu’s use of Facebook to bitch* abt her pay cut effective destroyed the PM’s attempt to use a deep ministerial salary cut to rebuild political capital and reclaim the moral high ground for the PAP. Before her outburst, which to be fair, from which she repented rather quickly, or rather claimed that we “misunderstood” her (Like we misunderstood Han or Han misunderstood SMRT’s SVP? Wah PAP sure got great miscommunicators? Or we “Lesser Mortals” are daft?), the critics could only rail in the abstract against the quantum, principles and methodology adopted by Gerald Ee and friends. S’poreans would soon have got bored with the abstractions. All the PAP needed to do was to sit tight for a while, until the critics bored S’poreans with hot air, and exhausted themselves.

(With all due respect to the critics, they have nothing new to say. “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”: Ecclesiastes 1:9)

After Grace Fu’s outburst, the critics had an alleged PAP princess** to beat up and abuse. And that they did, inflicting seriously collateral damage on the PM, cabinet and PAP.

This is not the first time that a female PAPy’s use (misuse?) of social media backfired on the PAP and PM.It has happened before.

Tin Pei Ling was earmarked to be Young PAPpies’ superstar and celebrity, showing that one could be young, fun-loving, brainless, parrot-like, wooden in public, marry well and have a career, and be a PAPpy on the make. The narrative didn’t work because the script did not tell her to privatise her Facebook page, making her pixs etc hostages to fortune. She compounded her initial mistake by appointing “Fat Fingered” Denise as her Facebook administrator. Denise He promptly broke the law, getting a serious warning from the police.  Netizens wanted Denise and Tin to be hung, drawn and quartered, which was never going to happen. I mean even drug mules only get hung if convicted.

So should the PAP appoint a social media commissar to clear all messages before they are made public? Take out the spontaneity rather than allow bird brains or air heads to destroy “The best laid plans o’ mice an’ men”?

Or tell ministers and MPs to be like MP Zaqy? A Malaysian Malay told me that his S’pore relations noticed that he (Zaqy) is never a leader, always a follower on Facebook. He allowed Halimah (ladies first?) to come out guns a’blazing at Han before he added his stab wounds. Wait for a cue, then action, is the message he would have told Ms Fu? Read the rest of this entry »

Why Han sat down and kept quiet

In Political governance on 03/01/2012 at 7:05 pm

(Or “Why Han stopped digging a grave  for himself and the PAP”)

Almost two weeks since Han came up with a new excuse every five minutes for his remarks that had racist overtones. Looks like he left the last word to Indian buddy Shanmugam (Where’s his Malay buddy?). Maybe he realised what he was up against?

To recap.

Here’s what MediaCorp says SVP Goh Kong Chee of SMRT said on radio that is the “source” of Seng Han Thong’s problems, “And that’s because our staff of different races, it could be Malay, Chinese, or Indians or any other race, they sometimes find it difficult to speak in English.

Han said on his Facebook page:

I notice that the PR mention that, some of the staff, because they are Malay, they are Indian, they can’t converse in English good, well enough, so that also deters them, from but I think we accept broken English.”*

Big difference in emphasis. SVP Goh said that there could be language problems, SMRT being a multi-racial workforce. Han’s emphasis is on two specific races, not on a multiracial workforce.

His latest turn in a letter to transport union, “I made the mistake of only mentioning our “Malay” and “Indian” workers where the original quote in the radio interview I was commenting on had cited MRT staff of different races, “Malay, Chinese, or Indians or any other race”.

So he  longer claims that he misheard as ST reported, but that he left out “Chinese” is my understanding of what he is now saying. Was there a need to mention any race at all? Inadvertently or not?

He said he was defending  the use of “broken English” in an emergency. Was there a need to defend this when this wasn’t an issue that SVP Goh of SMRT raised or used as an excuse? He was making a point about SMRT encouraging staff to speak**

Doesn’t this make nonsense of what the Law Minister said when defending Han and “whacking” TOC.*** This I must commend about Shanmugam. He, unlike other MPs, has the courage to make a fool of himself, defending Han. He got balls unlike Zaqy, etc. I’d like to have him (Shanmugam, not Zaqy) beside me if Quan Yifeng went wacko and tried to assault me. Hey Zaqy, being a PAPpie means the balls to be unpopular in yr community. Pandring to yr community is not a gd career move.

The problem that Han (and his apologists like Shanmugam) has is trying to explain why he singled out the “broken English” of two minority races, but omitted that of the Chinese. That is a hard truth. No amount of twisting and turning, or blaming TOC can explain or excuse the singling out by a PAP MP and a unionist of the “Malay” and “Indian” races.

Maybe a more fruitful line for him would be to blame SVP Goh of mentioning race in the first place, and that he (Han) was trying to rebuke him, but his (Han’s) bad English let him down.

And doesn’t this show, to misquote Mr Shanmugam, that “A significant part of what has been attributed to SMRT is false, to be quite blunt about it.” Any this can be said too of the transcription put up on Han’s site. Listen to cooments (link below).

Oh and let’s not forget Han misquoted SMRT’s  PR person. He is the originator of the remarks. He owns them, and cannot disown them.

—— Read the rest of this entry »

“LIES, damn lies and statistics” and two local examples?

In Economy, Financial competency on 03/01/2012 at 7:36 am

Example 1?

So a reasonable interpretation of the minister’s comments below are that the inflation numbers as far as they affect HDB residents and non-car owners are a lot of rubbish because they are not affected. So why not construct an additional index that excludes these costs? The reason that this is not done could be that then other costs have to be included, such as a great weightage for public transport costs, and the cost of public housing. And this could outweigh the costs of rentals and car ownership? Better to talk in general terms, than create a rod to break the PAPpies back?

While Singapore’s economy is headed for a slowdown, Mr Lim noted that inflation is somewhat “persistent” due to factors such as global commodity prices, “particularly fuel and oil prices”. Other causes include the Government’s domestic policies on housing and car ownership, he added.

Reiterating that core inflation is “not unusually high”, Mr Lim said: “So if you are an owner of a HDB flat, the housing prices don’t affect you, and if you are not buying a car, the car prices also don’t affect you.”

Example 2?

 The chart is misleading because the tariff axis is over-extended … the fluctuations in the electricity tariffs are not clearly depicted and it gives a misperception that the electricity tariffs are not rising as much or as fast a rate as the fuel oil price.

To show a better comparison between the electricity tariff and the fuel oil price, I suggest the tariff axis to range up to 35, to just cover the maximum tariff (30.45 in Oct 08).  This will show the fluctuations of the electricity tariff vis-a-vis those of the fuel oil price better, graphically.

Must read: The ugly reality is that anyone in the know can present statistics so as to create the desired impression, rather than the truth. As usual, you need to know whether the source is credible and honest or not. Recommendations, double checking, second opinions and if necessary, hiring an expert, can all be helpful. One is never totally safe from this kind of falsification, but viable controls are possible. And the more you learn and are aware of the dangers, the safer you are. http://www.investopedia.com/articles/financial-theory/11/lie-with-financial-statistics.asp?partner=ntu11#axzz1fElSc8tZ

 Update at 7.20 pm on 3 January 2011: http://theonlinecitizen.com/2012/01/confused-over-u-save-rebates/ gives many more examples of possible misuse of stats.

CapitaLand: Reason for CEO interview in ST

In Corporate governance, Property on 25/10/2011 at 6:51 am

Two fridays ago, ST has a whole page devoted to an interview with CapitaLand’s CEO. He was trying to explain to CapitaLand was not a China play, and that it was not a financial engineer pretending to be a property developer. It had been until recently playing up that it was a China play, and that it was asset light, using financial egineering, rather than owning assets.

I tot, “Wow, co must be worried abt share price.” Still I was that surprised when late last week, it announced a year-on-yearn 83% drop in its third quarter net profit to S$80.2 million.

Moral of story: Whenever a usually publicity-shy CEO “opens up”,  be wary, very wary.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 222 other followers