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Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Pharma R&D here/ “Fair and balanced” reporting and analysis?

In Economy, Media on 16/04/2015 at 2:26 pm

Last Friday, Today’s opening paragraphs of a story read:

Even as several multinational pharmaceutical giants are setting up their regional headquarters here to much fanfare, some have quietly wound down their research investments in the Republic.

In the past five years, at least three major pharmaceutical companies have shut down their research and development (R&D) operations here. In 2010, American pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Company closed its R&D unit of 130 staff, nine years after it was set up.

Three years later, United States-based Pfizer closed its clinical research unit, which was set up in 2000. It laid off 30 employees as a result.

Last year, British firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) ended its eight-year-old R&D operations at Biopolis.

Noting the timing of the closures, which came after the end of tax breaks and other incentives offered by the Government for starting operations here, analysts noted that given the high business costs, it was inevitable for some pharmaceutical companies to rationalise their operations after being here for a while.

“It may not be so visible immediately, but the trend is catching up,” said Dr Siddharth Dutta, industry manager for life sciences at Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific. “Talent is expensive in Singapore and when the Government grants and tax breaks come to an end, it only adds to the cost of research operation. Sometimes it is cheaper to acquire a regional company with promising pipeline molecule instead of having a dedicated R&D site.”

Mr Jason Humphries, managing director of Good Pharma Consulting in Singapore, added: “Government grants do influence investment decisions in R&D as pharmaceutical companies continue to revamp their research portfolios.”

So not very good news for S’pore’s pharma R&D efforts, is it? Or at best, the prospects are mixed?

You’d be wrong to think so, it seems.

Guess what were the headlines?

“S’pore still ‘compelling location’ despite spate of R&D closures– Firms rationalise operations after lapse of tax breaks, other govt incentives, analysts say”

To support the “S’pore still ‘compelling location’” angle, Today then reported

Responding to TODAY’s queries, Mr Kevin Lai, executive director of biomedical sciences and consumer businesses at the Economic Development Board (EDB), said: “A pharmaceutical company’s decision to withdraw its R&D operations from Singapore is usually a global business decision and is taken as a result of reasons specific to the company. In most cases, Singapore is not the only location affected by the restructuring.”

He added that the statutory board works closely with affected companies to minimise the impact on the employees and to provide new employment opportunities in Singapore.

[He would say this wouldn’t he? His KPIs depends on pharmas’ R&D efforts here.]

Mr Humphries pointed out that the Republic’s focus was clearly on getting pharmaceutical firms to set up their “control towers for regional and emerging markets”.

He also noted that companies are consolidating after the recent spate of mergers and acquisition in the region.

Eight of the top 10 Japanese pharmaceutical companies, for example, have established their regional headquarters here. [Yes, but as my dog tells me, the Japs are marginal, struggling pharma players on the global stage.]

Last month, GSK also announced that it would use Singapore as a base to steer its growth in Asia, with the set-up of a new regional headquarters here.

And those who left still have some presence here:

Pharmaceutical companies, including some of those that have wound down their R&D investments here, are getting into external collaborations with Singaporean research and clinical groups, or outsourcing their R&D operations to these organisations.

For example, United Kingdom-based AstraZeneca is collaborating with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the National University Heart Centre and the National University of Singapore.

Swiss drug-maker Novartis has also entered into several partnerships with Singaporean research institutes since it started the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) in 2002.

A Pfizer spokesperson said: “Key to expediting the translation of science into breakthrough therapies of tomorrow will be driving greater, deeper and stronger collaborations across the healthcare landscape. At Pfizer, we know we can’t go at it alone and are actively supporting the development of an emerging, highly networked ecosystem.”

Mr Lai said the EDB continues to see interest from companies to invest, collaborate and conduct R&D here given Singapore’s “strong scientific capabilities and the growth of the Asian market”.

[He would say that wouldn’t he? His KPIs depends on pharmas’ R&D efforts here.]

For example, Chugai Pharmaceutical announced in February that it will invest S$476 million in total by 2021 into its Singapore research institute, Chugai Pharmabody Research.

Mr Lai said: “We are confident that Singapore remains a compelling location for pharmaceutical R&D, manufacturing and commercial operations, and a biomedical sciences hub for Asia and beyond.”

All in all the “S’pore still ‘compelling location’” rests on the say so of the EDB’s executive director of biomedical sciences and consumer businesses. The quotes of the private sector people in the article are motherhood statements.

I’m not saying that the S’pore isn’t a “compelling” place for pharma R&D. All I’m saying is that there isn’t evidence of this going by the article.

Will this ever be reported here?

In Commodities, Economy, Media on 11/04/2015 at 3:01 pm

Glencore says it will stop funnelling sales from its Australian coal operations through Singapore, a move that comes amid growing concern in Canberra about the impact that alleged tax avoidance by multinational mining companies is having on the country’s tax take …

[It said this to an] Australian parliamentary inquiry scrutinising the use of Singapore marketing hubs by BHP Billiton, Rio Tintoand Glencore to reduce the mining groups’ tax bills.

Glencore told the committee that almost half its Australian exports flow through S’pore …

(FT report on Friday)

Battle in cyberspace/ Take the money and BS

In Media on 09/04/2015 at 4:55 am

In addition to saturating the newspapers and airwaves, the PAP administration and its minions  were saturating cyberspace with the news of LKY’s death. The constructive, nation-building ST made its online coverage of the death and other related   news available to netizens. And the news coverage on CNA’s website was all about him and the lying-in-state.

Then there was spontaneous outbursr of respect and tribute from social media and bloggers.

Even the cyber-warriors and cybernuts who tried to counter the right narrative added to the saturation coverage.

So Khaw would be happy. During the Parliamentary debate on 10 March, Khaw took the opportunity to KPKB about social media, “In 2011, many Singaporeans were swayed by the social media commentaries, and worried that the Singapore Dream would not be available to future generations .

How can the PAP do better in cybberspace?

For the coming GE, will the PAP pick up tips from the US and Ukrainian govts on how to handle the social media cowboys, Comanches and other renegades?

US State Department’s war on social media against Jihadists

Ambassador Alberto Fernandez is the US State Department’s Coordinator for Strategic Counterterrorism. The Department runs campaigns on Twitter and social media forums to challenge extremists directly, with titles such as “Think Again, Turn Away”.

These have been criticised in some quarters but he believes that engaging the jihadists’ audience rather than ignoring them means they are exposed to alternative views.

But, like the [London]Metropolitan Police team, his staff are few in number, with only around 20 engaging on a daily basis with jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

“We see ourselves as a rag-tag guerrilla organisation waging a hit and run campaign against the adversary,” Mr Fernandez told the BBC. “We’re definitely the David against the ISIS Goliath, which is perhaps somewhat ironic.”

Ukrainian Information Army

The Economist reports Ukraine launched the “Ukrainian Information Army”, a volunteer force of internet commenters tasked with spreading government-approved content and combatting Russian trolls. A recent mission asked the troops to post a propagandistic Ukrainian response to a Russian-made propaganda video.

(Emphasis mine)

Take the money and BS 

Btw, I’m sure MediaCorp and SPH journalists can advise the Ukrainian journalists what to do: Ukrainian journalists have been struggling with how to carry themselves in a war where the media plays an outsize role … Journalists constantly debate whether they can help Ukraine without contradicting their professional standards. “Ukrainian journalism is undergoing a crisis of values,” says Olga Chervakova, a television journalist turned politician, who now sits on the parliamentary Committee for Freedom of Speech and Information.

Juz take the thirty pieces of silver on offer and play whatever tune the paying piper wants you to pipe. Not unique to S’porean journalists: the WP MPs have their own version. They take the MPs’ allowances (about $15,000 per MP per month), and keep quiet even when the PAPpies beat them up publicly: “Sticks and stomes may hurt me but $15,000 a month can buy a lot of kok yok,” seem to be the mantra.

Finally, a piece of advice to the two social media celebrities, and ex-NSP activists who are allowing the Chiams to get blood transfusions from them. Set-up a Bishan-Tao Payoh-Potong Pasir* pages and sites and promote the sites to the people living there: be local.

*Prediction that PP will be merged to the Bishan GRC.

LKY: Lest we forget the Dark Side

In Media, Political governance on 30/03/2015 at 5:04 am

I have very little time or patience for Teo Soh Lung’s views but I agree with her comment “let us remember that there is another side to the man”.I reproduce her piece below because it shows S’poreans who want to remind other S’poreans of the Seth Lord or Sauron in Lee Kuan Yew how to do it: stick to the facts, not descending to abuse and vulgarity.

It’s important that anti-PAP cyber-warriors, and those (self-included) who believe in objectivity and balance (and who have no patience with BS) butt into the NatCon that the PAP administration and its allies (especially the constructive, nation-building media) is imposing on S’poreans. We must not let the “right” narrative remain unchallenged.

But we have to do it factually, and entertainingly, not boring fellow S’poreans to sleep. And we have the eyeballs*.

Ms Teo Soh Lung’s Facebook post (apologies for not getting her approval)

I watched the television for several hours today. The tv was off for nearly a week and I thought I really should not miss this historic occasion.

As I watched the two sons of Lee Kuan Yew gave their eulogies in praise of their father, I cannot help thinking of the following people who were arrested and imprisoned for decades without trial by their father:

1. Dr Lim Hock Siew was arrested and imprisoned for 20 years. His son was only 5 months old. He left his wife to look after their son for two decades. His medical career was completely ruined.

2. Pak Said Zahari had a young family and his wife was pregnant with their youngest child when he was arrested and imprisoned for 17 years. His youngest daughter was born while he was still in prison and he did not hold her till 17 years later. His promising career as editor of Utusan Melayu and writer ended. His wife became a hawker in order to keep the family alive.

3. Lee Tee Tong, Legislative Assemblyman was imprisoned for 18 years leaving his parents to fend for themselves.

4. Dr Poh Soo Kai was imprisoned for for 17 years. His marriage was ruined and he was deprived of having a happy family. His career as a brilliant gynaecologist also ended.

5. Ho Toon Chin @ Ho Piao was imprisoned for 18 years. His parents were deprived of his support and his career as a trade unionist ended.

6. Chia Thye Poh, a legislative assemblyman and Physics lecturer was imprisoned for 32 years. As the eldest son and one who consistently did well in school and university, his parents had hoped that he would support them financially. Instead, they had to visit him in prison.

7. Loh Miaw Gong, a legislative assembly woman and trade unionist was imprisoned for 7 years. Her family was deprived of her support.

8. Chng Min Oh @ Chuang Men Hu, Trade unionist was imprisoned for 13 years leaving his wife to look after 2 young children and a third who was born while he was in prison. His wife had to work as a hawker and construction worker, holding other odd jobs to keep the family afloat. She was struck with cancer shortly after his release and committed suicide three years later, unable to accept her illness.

Thousands were thrown into jail and tortured just because Lee Kuan Yew was afraid of their presence in parliament. Their families left to fend for themselves. Many more lived or died in political exile, separated from their loved ones for 30 years and more.

While Singaporeans sing praises of Lee Kuan Yew, let us remember that there is another side to the man.

—-

*Mr Cheong Yip Seng (LKY’s favourite newsman, ex-ST chief editor) recently told us of an incident which showed that LKY was aware of the impact of new media. One November evening in 1999, Mr Lee telephoned Mr Cheong. He was troubled by a new information phenomenon, which was threatening to overwhelm the traditional media industry: eyeballs were migrating from print newspapers to cyberspace. Mr Cheong said that LKY was anxious about how the information revolution would impact the Singapore traditional media.

“He was anxious to find a response that would enable the mainstream media to keep its eyeballs. He wanted us at Singapore Press Holdings to think about the way forward.”

Well SPH, and the rest of constructive, nation-building media didn’t do what they were ordered to, did they? That despite throwing serious money and other resources at the problem.

Cause of plankton bloom?/ Three cheers for Tessa Wong

In Environment, Malaysia, Media on 10/03/2015 at 5:43 am

Several fish farmers told the BBC that rapid development in the western part of the strait in Johor, the Malaysian state closest to Singapore, was one of the factors affecting the water quality.

“The plankton bloomed this fast because the nutrient content in the sea is so high. And where are all these nutrients coming from? Land reclamation in Malaysia,” said Frank Tan.

[Err these guys must be shell shocked by the losses, deaths and stench; water from Western Johor I.e. Iskandar can’t flow East because of the Causeway]

But tiny Singapore has also reclaimed parts of its northern coast, and dammed up estuaries in the northeast to create reservoirs. It has pumped millions of dollars into the fish farming industry to boost its domestic food security.

Latest government figures show there are now 117 fish farms in waters surrounding the island, spread out over 102ha – twice the amount of space compared to a decade ago.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-31724554

Typical of the PAP administration under Ah Loong: one part messes up the sea in the NE by damming estuaries and reclaiming land, another promotes fishing farming in area. Looks like more work for Grace Fu’s cordinating unit? She will be bitching* for more pay?

Btw the BBC reporter, Tessa Wong, was formerly from ST. Shows that ex-ST journalists can be fearless, objective after they leave ST. Until I read the BBC piece, I didn’t understand how bad the situation had become because our constructive, nation-building media focused on the dead fish and the losses to the farmers, not on the wider ecological and environment situation.

Oh and M’sia can tell us to bugger-off if we complain about M’sian land reclamation etc affecting S’pore. It can, rightly say, “If you can damage yr environment by yr reclaimation and other projects, why can’t we?. Not as though you guys are doing right by the environment.

*In January 2012, she expressed concerns over the planned 36-37% income cuts for ministers, saying that if ministerial pay was further reduced in the future, it would “make it harder for anyone considering political office”

 

Murder of cartoonists: Hypocrisy in our MSM and new media coverage

In Media on 11/01/2015 at 9:56 am

What does it tell us about ourselves that in all the MSM and new media coverage there is only one tua kee blogger who points out that many of the cartoons in  Charlie Hebdo would be banned in S’pore because they are not”right”*.

I’ll put it this way: many of its cartoons would be banned for being “obscene”, while many of its anti-religious cartoons would be banned for being “offensive” to religions; some of which might be seditious to boot.

S’poreans are not willing to see this pink elefant in the cubicle, yet there are S’poreans pontificating in abstract on freedom of expression and its limits, sometimes to the point of rubbishy, meaningless nonsense. Like this very offensive, “My take is that free speech is only laudable when used well. And despicable when abused. It is worth having, but not worth having at all costs.”

My Facebook avatar pointed out

—  “Call to account”. Well the guys who killed the cartoonists can be considered “calling to account” the abusers of free speech by that definition.

— “only laudable when used well. And despicable when abused”. Who defines “laudable”, “despicable”, “used well”, “abused”? Western liberal values? Wahhabi values? Western right wing values? LKY? Those who rule?As … rightly points out, the ruling elites try to impose their definitions in their own interests.

He wasn’t the only one upset with this rubbish:

— We got to grow up and deal with some noise and mess. You don’t have to agree 100% of Charlie Hebdo’s work; but the principle of free speech, as long as it does not explicitly incite violence against its targets, has to be defended. You can’t expect to live perpetually in some kind of kindergarten. There is a cost to everything. You pay some social cost for the free speech so that you reserve the right to lampoon, criticize and call out elites, the rich and powerful when it is necessary to do so. When you are willing to circumscribe your rights for minor annoyances and offenses, you start to erode that right and you may not be able to control how far that censorship can go.

— Do you realize how much of important history consist of words written that were offensive to the church, Kings and all manner of groups that would gladly keep the status quo. Have some ‘respect’ they say. The church wasn’t very nice when it was strong and able to impose its own form of inquisition. It took years and bloody revolutions to overthrow kings. ‘Disrespect’ that led to things like the Magna Carta, French Revolution, the formation of America and the overthrow of the Qing dynasty. Boy, that’s a lot of offensive ink spilt.

*Even then this retired Imperial Storm Trooper (paper division) general puts it down to the wisdom of the MSM, not giving credit to Harry the Axe man. I’d rather give credit to Harry.

 

From Russia with love to Yaacob & MDA

In Internet, Media on 13/12/2014 at 11:18 am

The recent comment that “D” in “MDA” ahould be replaced by “R” for R”Regulatory” to better reflect its role reminded me that in August in Russia, laws were enacted forcing bloggers with more than 3,000 daily readers to register with the mass media regulator.

With most bloggers being friendly to the Oppo, if not cheering them on, maybe time for MDA to follow suit to make sure SuperWimp AhLoong and the MIW beats theBlueClones and the Mad Dog gang. .

 

PussiesXII, Kittens?/ MSM coverage of LionsXII

In Footie, Malaysia, Media on 24/08/2014 at 7:11 am

Simba and Nala and their pride of lions must be upset that their brand has been tarnished by two of our nation footie sides.

The Cubs covered themselves in disgraceful in Brunei,

When Singapore’s national Under-21s completed their Group B fixtures at the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in Brunei on Monday, their report card was a compilation of sorry statistics.

For the first time in the history of the tournament the team lost all their games and lost them heavily – a five-match string of defeats (0-4 to Vietnam, 1-3 to Cambodia, 1-3 to Brunei, 0-3 to Malaysia, 0-6 to Indonesia).

The side also scored the least goals (two) and conceded the most (19).

To further add insult to injury, coach Richard Bok’s squad of 18 for this regional Under-21 competition included four over-aged players – LionsXII trio Ignatius Ang (22 years old), his clubmates, Emmeric Ong and forward Syafiq Zainal and Warriors FC goalkeeper Neezam Abdul Aziz (all 23).

But they were thrashed by Vietnam and Indonesia, who fielded their Under-19 sides.

– See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/sports/football-cubs-shamed-brunei#sthash.7bZqTIFL.dpuf

Meanwhile, the Lions XII, are not living up to their name or their success under Super Sub. After a disappointing Malaysian Super League campaign, the LionsXII once again tasted bitter defeat on Saturday (Aug 23) evening. They lost 2-1 to Johor Darul Takzim II in the Malaysia Cup at the Pasir Gudang Stadium in Johor Bahru. (CNA).

The LionsXII fell to their second consecutive defeat in their Malaysia Cup campaign, losing 1-2 to second-tier Malaysia Premier League side Johor Darul Takzim II (JDT II) at the Pasir Gudang Stadium. – See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/sport/football/story/football-lionsxiis-malaysia-cup-hopes-dim-fandi-gives-fandi-the-blues-1-2-#sthash.I4Yjt95k.dpuf

PussiesXII and Kittens?

Seriously, I hope the recent failure of the LionsXII after the team’s previous success, puts an end to SPH’s and MediaCorp’s championing and spinning of Fandi as the saviour of local footie. He was a very gd local footballer and a decent man who has had his share of gd and bad fortune. But as for the constructive, nation-building media’s attempt to spin him as “super coach, the saviour of local footie”, well the results speak for themselves. It’s not as though the media didn’t know of his failings in the smake pits of Iskandar.

What really annoys me is that Super Sub never got sufficient credit from our local media for his handling of the LionsXII. Compare their praise of him against that of their praise for Fandi. And the local media is always making excuses for Fandi. He’s not a bad coach (He’s a pretty decent coach) but the failure of our local media to hold him to account is disgusting.

CPF Life: What SunTimes left out

In Financial competency, Financial planning, Media on 05/06/2014 at 4:37 am

One merit about CPF Life is that it is run by the Government. That removes the big worry of retirees as to whether their insurer is financially strong enough to withstand the next global financial crisis in order to keep making the monthly payouts, is what a SPH reporter wrote last Sunday http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={838399526-20200-2041240930}.

Those who read this blog a few days ago will know that he is being constructive, and nation-building.

There is a provision in the law governing the CPF Life Plans which states that payouts are contingent on the Plans being solvent. This is because premiums that are paid in to get the annuities are pooled and collectively invested. If the plan you chose doesn’t have enough money to pay out, you die. This is unlike the [Minimum Sum] scheme, where account holders are legally entitled to the monies in their CPF accounts …

(https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/best-cpf-life-plan/)

The government has said the provision on solvency is only a precaution unlikely ever  to be used. If so, why have it? This is a peace of mind issue. It was Gan who made this assurance when he was MoM.

He should have told us the fact that the govt refuses to “protect” CPF Lifers from fund failure, despite CPF Lifers having to participate.

If one cannot trust a SPH journalist to give us the relevant facts on a non-political issue, how can we rely on any SPH (and MediaCorp journalist, for that matter) to analyse or report political issues? After all our local media is proudly constructive and nation-building?

BTW, how does this refusal to “protect” CPF Lifers square with what PM said last week? “We want to enhance [the CPF’s retirement-annuity scheme] so that the payouts can keep pace with the cost of living,” and “We also want to provide stronger assurance in retirement for the lower-income groups.”

But the article made one gd point, The Standard plan offers an annuity scheme similar to what retirees in Britain opt for. The Basic plan is commonly adopted by US retirees. Reminder, the Basic plan is closer to the Minimum Sum scheme that is no longer available. For more: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/best-cpf-life-plan/

People that the PAP fear?

In Hong Kong, Media on 14/05/2014 at 4:59 am

“A prophet without honour in his own country or home,” was what I tot.

No not talking about one Devan Nair, for one thing he is being re-recognised by the PAP govt: “Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officially opened the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability in Jurong East …”, it was reported on 1 May 2014.

No, I couldn’t help but think “A prophet without honour in his own country or home”*, when I read on Saturday, “Outspoken academic Cherian George takes up post at Hong Kong Baptist University” (http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1508715/outspoken-academic-cherian-george-takes-post-hong-kong-baptist).

He needs no introduction as the hubbie of ST’s editor, brudder-in-law to the Malay minister, and an academic and former journalist who has had disagreements with the PAP govt since the 1980s. Seeing no future in journalism, he became an academic. In 2009, he was made an NTU associate professor but denied tenure. In 2010, NTU denied the school’s attempt to renew his position as head of journalism. He was denied tenure again last year and had to “move on” and out of S’pore.

Is it not surprising that The Reporters Without Borders 2014 Press Freedom Index ranked Hong Kong at 61 and Singapore at 150 out of 180 nations?

Mr Spock can reasonably conclude that he was denied tenure because “Service and other contributions to the university, profession or community are also taken into consideration.”**

He is after all, “one of Singapore’s most accomplished and civic minded media commentators”, as someone whom  I respect described him. He could also have be a model for what Seah Chiang Nee in his final column for the Star wrote: “make sure you get the facts right. Use refined language, with no exaggeration. Accuracy, objectivity! When it does well, give it credit; if it does badly in the eyes of most people, say so.” This is something that doesn’t fit rabid PAP cybder warriors.

Rabid anti-PAP cyber warriors especially those who distort the truth can take heart that they are not the ones the PAP fear most or that they will get into trouble for attacking the PAP.

The PAP it seems fears those who are willing to speak the truth, and who thereby have the respect of the 35% of S’poreans who can be swayed by the facts and rational arguments, unlike the 35% (Any donkey so long it is branded “PAP” and 30% (Any donkey who says he is anti-PAP) who can’t.

I’m exaggerating who the PAP fear most? Remember this incident when someone was uninvited to the Istana.

And there are some (not me though, here’s why ) who think that Alex Au’s legal problems have something to do with his well researched and totful pieces.

Happily for the PAP, the really rabid anti-PAP cyber warriors don’t think that telling the truth is that important. What matters is being cheered on by 30% of the voters. If only they can recognise that 30% is not a majority in S’pore politics, and that they have to appeal to the middle 35%.

But maybe they (or at least some of them do) do but are afraid of kanna “marked” by the PAP, and suffering the consequences like having to “move on” or being a non-person.. Better to appeal to the 30% hard core. Better safe than sorry. That after all is the S’porean way.

———–

*1And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching. (Mark 6)

**An NTU spokesman said,: “The tenure review process is purely a peer-driven academic exercise with two equally important criteria, distinction in scholarship and high quality teaching. Service and other contributions to the university, profession or community are also taken into consideration.”

He wrote on his blog, “As for why the university took the exceptional step of withholding tenure from a faculty member who it decided had earned promotion, I was assured this had nothing to do with my scholarship, teaching or service, and not because I had conducted myself inappropriately.” He was never contradicted by NTU.

So a hyper rationalist like Mr Spock can reasonably conclude that it was “Service and other contributions to the university, profession or community are also taken into consideration” that did him in, making him move on; to a place controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, no friend of a free media or internet.

 

How SPH, MediaCorp can get more productive and profitable

In Humour, Internet, Media on 23/03/2014 at 7:21 am

Employ robot writers to replace the Chua sisters, Han, Warren and Yaacob’s sis (Even though she needs the job as Cherian, her hubbie, is leaving NTU soon), among many others.

Not as though the technology isn’t there.

The Los Angeles Times was the first newspaper to publish a story about an earthquake … – thanks to a robot writer.

Journalist and programmer Ken Schwencke created an algorithm that automatically generates a short article when an earthquake occurs.

Mr Schwencke told Slate magazine that it took around three minutes for the story to appear online.

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26614051

Here’s more

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-26689983

But let’s be fair, robots could be used productively by the anti-PAP paper activists at TOC* and many other blogs (TRE excepted, ’cause TRE makes it very, very clear that its mission is to provide the alternative voices not reported in our constructive, nation-building media.). Robots could replace regular TRE posters like “oxygen”. Kishore of the LKY School should install one to produce his chim pro-China, anti-Western; or pro PAP pieces.

A serious piece on productivity: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/productivity-ageing-population-immigration/

Update at 10am: Thinking about it, I too can use a robot to bitch about that ACS sneerer, VivianB, Auntie Sylvia, her baiyee and the two  GGs. Also for my praise of WP Low, the scholar and elite schoolboy at TRE and the SDP RI doctors treating Mad Dog Chee. My very serious point is that when we don’t think thru the issues, but instinctively give way to our prejudices when talking, writing;  we might as well turn over the writing, talking to robots.

—-

*Ya I got bias against TOC https://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/neighbours-show-up-the-spore-system-for-gd-and-bad/

BT inflation headline talks sucks, really sucks

In Economy, Financial competency, Holidays and Festivals, Media on 24/12/2013 at 6:28 am

I recently blogged that the PAP should approach mrbrown to help PAP MPs in particular Baey and Tharman. Looks like BT needs his help in getting the facts “right”.Let me explain.

I waz planning to take a break from nasty, vicious blogging as it’s the time of peace and gooddwill towards men.

Happily for my inner Grinch , I read this

Core inflation inches higher, forecasts up
Economists point to higher inflation for next year with pressure from wages, business costs, COEs
… Inflation rose to 2.6 per cent year-on-year in November, from 2 per cent the previous month, with private-sector economists forecasting higher inflation for next year. In a statement yesterday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said core inflation – which strips out accommodation and private road transport costs – also picked up pace to 2.1 per cent in November, compared with 1.8 per cent in October.Based on the above, core inflation was up 16.7%. Taz’s “inching” in a month?

Trying to spin gold out of bull dust? Or is shumeone seriously drunk or mathematically challenged? BTW, inflation was up 30% in a month.

Santa, I want for Christmas “Headlines from a Mathematically Literate World”

Our World: Unemployment Rate Jumps from 7.6% to 7.8%
Mathematically Literate World: Unemployment Rate Probably a Little Under 8%; Maybe Rising, or Not, Can’t Really Tell

Our WorldFirm’s Meteoric Rise Explained by Daring Strategy, Bold Leadership
Mathematically Literate WorldFirm’s Meteoric Rise Explained by Good Luck, Selection Bias

Our WorldGas Prices Hit Record High (Unadjusted for Inflation)
Mathematically Literate WorldGas Prices Hit Record High (In a Vacuous, Meaningless Sense)

Read more

http://mathwithbaddrawings.com/2013/12/02/headlines-from-a-mathematically-literate-world/

And if interested on why core inflation was up 16.7% (can’t help think of “ponding”)

A higher headline inflation figure in November – marking the first time since March that inflation has risen beyond the 2 per cent level – was generally expected as it had been flagged by MAS and MTI previously.

The biggest driver was higher accommodation costs, which rose 3.3 per cent year on year from 1.9 per cent in October, when service and conservancy charges rebates to HDB households had kept housing-related costs down.

 

S’pore bonds are a lousy investment

In Financial competency, Media on 01/10/2013 at 5:06 am

SINGAPORE bonds were the second-worst performer in Asia in the first seven months of this year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said.

Losses were largest in Indonesia, down 17.8 per cent, followed by Singapore, where bonds were down 7.8 per cent in the January-to-July period, said the latest report by ADB’s Asia Bond Monitor.

Market returns on Asian bonds have fallen sharply so far this year with the iBoxx Pan-Asian Index falling 3.5 per cent in US dollars in unhedged terms, it said yesterday.

Only bonds in the Philippines and China recorded gains – 7.5 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.

Reported in BT 27 September 2013, but not in ST or Today. Why? ST and Today only report the “right” news? Note that ST regularly talks of the benefits of investing in S$ bonds, and bonds generally.

BTW, here’s shumething SunT didn’t tell us about the Finnish education system: Angry Birds creator Rovio has brought Angry Birds Playground, a schools initiative devised with the University of Helsinki in Finland, into the kindergarten classroom of children, aimed at six-year-olds.

With the initiative already in use in Finland, Rovio has now entered into an agreement with schools in China.

“With small children, the Finnish approach to education is very much play-orientated,” says Sanna Lukander, vice president of book publishing at Rovio Entertainment.

“These characters and their world seemed to inspire children. You can’t not think about how you might motivate children to do more than play.”

Sun Tzu & the PAP’s non-use of new media, & the PM

In Internet, Media on 30/09/2013 at 6:36 am

(If you want to read about SunT left out about the Finnish education system scroll to the end)

This extract from a CNA report last Friday reminded me of an email exchange I had with a new media big cat (not ‘fat” cat) sometime back: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has addressed some key themes arising from the “Ask the PM” live forum on Channel NewsAsia which took place on Tuesday.

In a posting on his Facebook page on Thursday, he thanked viewers for their questions and comments, but said there were too many questions for him to answer individually.

He addressed key themes including education and housing.

I had suggested how the PAP should have reacted to P Ravi: Instead of using his skin to beat the RAVII DRUMS, it should have used Facebook, the medium he was accused of playing the DRUMS on.

A new media big cat (not “fat cat”) pointed out (his comments slighly edited)

MIW cannot stoop to the same level as the others by responding on fb. It’s typical for anyone to bring the battle to their own familiar turf or battleground. u dun fight in “enemy” territory which limits yr own exposure and not forgetting that the “enemy” territory r flanked by “enemy’s” supporters and so u won’t be able to have the last say.

He quoted Sun Tzu’s “The art of War”, a book that the Chinese generals still swear by and quote. I will not be surprised if the PAP too refers to Sun Tzu when in doubt (PM was from Catholic High and the book is a classic alongside the Analects and the Tao). I too used to be a fan of Sun Tzu (How to win without fighting sounds pretty attractive) until an ang moh by the name of Edward Luttwak (he would have been a strategist during the period of the Three Kingdoms or the Warring States) wrote recently a book on Chinese strategy, and pointed out waz wrong with Sun Tzu’s precepts.

Coming in for criticism by name is Sun Tzu, whose writings of 2,500 years ago, including “The Art of War“, are the main source of what Mr Luttwak calls “the flawed principles of ancient unwisdom”. He grants that the cunning statecraft, stratagems for deception and diplomatic finesse advocated by Sun Tzu may have worked when used by one warring Chinese state against another. But he argues that these doctrines have served China poorly in fending off other adversaries.

With a quick pass through the history of China’s engagement with Jurchens, Khitans, Mongols, Manchus and other Asiatic nomads, he notes that China has been ruled by Hans, its ethnic majority, for only about a third of the past millennium. “While Han generals in charge of large armies were busy quoting Sun Tzu to each other, relatively small numbers of mounted warriors schooled in the rudely effective strategy and tactics of the steppe outmanoeuvred and defeated their forces,” he writes.

The bit about being thrashed regularly by the nomads is a fact, not a Hard Truth.

So if the PAP continues to ignore new media because it is unfamiliar terrain that Sun Tzu says one shld not fight on, it will continue making unnecessary, avoidable PR fiascoes. But maybe it’s beginning to plan abandoning this Sun Tzu precept by recceing the new media terrain. The people behind the Breakfast Network (highly commended by me) and Independent (it sucks), are retired Imperial Stormtroop generals from the Keyboard corps. They could be juz like the German generals who turned on Hitler when Germany was losing, or be like Benedict Arnold (an American rebel hero who offered to surrender a fortress to the British). Or they could be what Sun Tzu recommends using. Only time will tell.

Onto serious matters. The PAP’s brand and message need to be recast for the age of social media (and. new media) in general) and the PM needs to show boldness and political artistry in grabbing his (and that of the PAP’s) share of attention. He can’t rely on the traditional media to help him grab attention. For starters, traditional media is no longer trusted here, especially  by the young. Then, too, the traditional media’s market share has diminished. And then there are all the competing celebrities on social media like all those cats’ pixs. And then there is vigilantism of websites like Stomp which have large audiences.

The PM has plenty of competition, be it in the mainstream media or new media.

And besides his style sucks in PR terms. As a double first in Maths from Cambridge, he is familiar with the scientific method: specificity, objectivity, and accountability. These are elements lacking in politics, anywhere in the world, let alone in S’pore, a de-facto one party state. They are lacking because politicians don’t need these skills to win elections. But Angela Merkel has shown that one can have the “scientific method” and be personally popular. And are we not the Prussians of the East? (The Prussians were the Germans’ Germans. Now most of what is now Prussia is in Poland.)

And as I will show on Wednesday, he has problems with the substance of hie messages too.

All in all, the PM and the PAP have a long way to go in the use of new media even with the help of BN and the Independent. Us, injuns and outlaws rule the comboy towns and the territory outside the MSM, govt forts.

Finally on a totally different topic, here’s sumething SunT didn’t tell us about the Finnish education system: Angry Birds creator Rovio has brought Angry Birds Playground, a schools initiative devised with the University of Helsinki in Finland, into the kindergarten classroom of children, aimed at six-year-olds.

With the initiative already in use in Finland, Rovio has now entered into an agreement with schools in China.

“With small children, the Finnish approach to education is very much play-orientated,” says Sanna Lukander, vice president of book publishing at Rovio Entertainment.

“These characters and their world seemed to inspire children. You can’t not think about how you might motivate children to do more than play.”

Games have a larger effect on learning than traditional materials”

Prof Constance Steinkuehler Games scholar

BTW, didn’t read the SunT stuff. Friend who read it told me that it didn’t talk about games. I had earlier sent him the above link given his interest in the Finnish way.

Why it matters that ST & Today got the facts wrong on Ng’s IOC bid

In Media on 16/09/2013 at 5:16 am

Readers cannot have missed that ST and Today were trumpeting for weeks, that S’pore’s Ng Ser Miang had a good chance to be in the International Olympic Committee (IOC). president. He was not only a contender but one of the two favourites. As the volume got shriller and the headlines more bombastic and bigger fonts were used, I turned to the int’l media like the BBC and the Guardian. They said that the German, Bach, was the favourite. If he didn’t get the job, it would be an upset.

I didn’t get upset at our papers’ “kampung” boy stance: to be expected from “provincial” papers. Ever read the Cardiff or Belfast Times? Or even the NY or London papers on city matters? Besides ang mohs are always dismissive of Asians.

What has got me writing this diatribe is that it is now beyond reasonable doubt that the papers must have been wrong to label Ng a favourite. Ng tied in the first round with the Taiwanese guy our papers called a long shot. Ng squeaked thru on a re-vote. Then “Mr Ng received six votes and came in a distant third, behind German former Olympian Thomas Bach, who won the elections with 49 votes, and Puerto Rican banker Richard Carrion who received 29 votes …”.

Come on, if he was a “hot” favourite, how come so bad a result? He should have come in a decent second, or a close third. Our papers didn’t think much of the banker’s chances, rating him below Ng. He got thru the first round easily, unlike Ng, and came in a credible, if distant, second.

Both papers moved on to whisper about conspiracy theories. Today muttered including a belief making the rounds that Tokyo’s successful bid to stage the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games was a factor.

With next year’s Youth Olympics in Nanjing, the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, there is a perception that the IOC was reluctant to give too much power to Asia. This doesn’t wash because Ng didn’t get many Asian votes, did he? One reporter also said that Asians don’t support Asians.

Gee so how come we weren’t told these facts earlier? ST and Today only found these up after Ng lost? Whatever it is, they must have got the facts wrong to come up with the assertion that Ng was a favourite.

Clearly, the voting showed that Ng was no favourite: in fact going by the numbers, he along with the Taiwanese guy were long shots. And that he never had a base of Asian supporters, let alone supporters. As WSJ wrote: Ng appeared to struggle to find company. On Sunday night, as Bach was finishing dinner with International Skating Union president Ottavio Cinquanta of Italy and their spouses, Ng was sharing a drink with reporters. The next day Bach had lunch with IOC member Ung Chang.

The two papers got it wrong: Ng was not a favourite, as claimed; and should admit to their getting their facts wrong, rather than throw smoke in order to cover-up the mistake of getting the wrong facts, leading to the wrong conclusion.

I once suggested that P Ravi and PM use this method (used successfully by a secret police force) to evaluate the quality of the data they get from their sources. Maybe ST and Today should use the method for their sports news coverage.
Let me be very clear, I’m not saying anything derogatory about Ng. But I’m saying that our papers, based on the evidence of the votes cast, did not get their facts “right” about Ng being a favourite alongside Bach. Were they beating the DRUMS rather than reporting the “right” facts?
This leads me to a most serious issue.
Recently, a retired Imperial Stormtrooper general (Keyboard corps) criticised the role of the local mainstream media in the loss of trust between the people and the govt. Wow! Bit like a few German generals and soldiers trying to assassinate Hitler, when the Germans were losing the war that they started? OK maybe she had a Paul-like conversion after she got retired?

Well, if we can’t even rely on the media to get the facts “right” on a simple sports story involving a S’porean, how can we trust the media when it reports on news that touches on the govt: remember the local media prides itself on being “constructive” and “nation-building”, and I have yet to hear of a senior editor being less than 150% pro-govt. Example, the media only waited for the govt’s response to Dinesh family’s legal suit before reporting the case. TOC and Bertha Henson (aforesaid keyboard general) had, to their credit, already reported the details of the family’s suit days earlier.

Yaacob and the MDA should ponder the implications of this failure of  the govt’s poodle “constructive”, “nation-building” media to get the facts right on a simple sports story, rather than beat on the skin of P Ravi, the DRUMS to the tune of RAVII to discredit the new media. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/ingratitude-uniquely-sporean-blame-the-internet-not-really/

SunT versus TRE coverage of LGBT party

In Media on 30/06/2013 at 5:40 am

On page 16 of SunT there is a small pix and a little accompanying text on yesterday’s LGBT massive  “finding partners/ dates” party (21,000 crowd) at Hong Lim Green. My Facebook wall is full of pixs of the gay event.

As at 5.33am. there is nothing in TRE on this massive gathering of S’poreans. I will update this post when I see reports on TRE of this social and HR events.( Update at 3.10pm:

)Site Under Maintenance

I’m putting up this post because there are allegations (PAP-inspired?) that TRE is juz as socially conservative as the PAP, WP and  NSP.

I doubt that these allegations are true, but let’s see. Members of the LGBT community here are S’poreans too. This too is their home. It’s sad that SPH (and presumably the PAP govt) doesn’t think so.

Any idea if MediaCorp covered the event on the news programme? Based on CNA website, doesn’t seem so. SIGH (

Update on ! july at 6.18 am TRE site is

Site Under Maintenance

“PAP-stream media” NOT MSM

In Humour, Media on 31/05/2013 at 7:28 am

“Why do we even call it “mainstream” media? It seems to be more a PAP-stream media,” Tong Beng on Facebook. He has a great point!

What happens in ST newsroom

In Humour, Media on 30/05/2013 at 6:29 am
It’s not nice to have to wonder about phone calls in the night or an email to demand that a post be deleted. And it’s not nice to have to second guess what the G (or which god in which department) thinks about this post or that and that particular god-person’s threshold of “sensitivity’’.

Sharp-eyed Siow Kum Hong spotted this from Bertha Henson’s piece http://www.breakfastnetwork.sg/?p=4858. Read it as it contains lots of rational criticisms of the new MDA regulations, unlike most of the noise and rubbish coming from netizens’ behinds.

In case, you didn’t know, she was a high ranking, keyboard-wielding Imperial storm trooper dedicated to keeping S’poreans in the dark, before she retired after having repented. She was Dark enough to have been considered to be one of the front runners to be  ST’s editor.

But let’s not hold it against her. There are not enough Jedi for us to be choosy.

MSM, less triumphalism when puffing up GIC, Temasek

In Financial competency, GIC, Media, Temasek on 09/04/2013 at 6:16 am

Pls remember what someone who manages more $ than GIC, Temasek says abt performance

Clearly the ability of the investor to adapt to the market’s “four seasons” should be proof enough that there was something more than luck involved? And if those four seasons span a number of bull/ bear cycles or even several decades, then a confirmation or coronation should take place shortly thereafter! First a market maven, then a wizard, and finally a King. Oh, to be a King.

 But let me admit something. There is not a Bond King or a Stock King or an Investor Sovereign alive that can claim title to a throne. All of us, even the old guys like Buffett, Soros, Fuss, yeah – me too, have cut our teeth during perhaps a most advantageous period of time, the most attractive epoch, that an investor could experience. Since the early 1970s when the dollar was released from gold and credit began its incredible, liquefying, total return journey to the present day, an investor that took marginal risk, levered it wisely and was conveniently sheltered from periodic bouts of deleveraging or asset withdrawals could, and in some cases, was rewarded with the crown of “greatness.” Perhaps, however, it was the epoch that made the man as opposed to the man that made the epoch.
PIMCO’s Bill Gross

The April Fools joke is on the govt

In Media, Political governance on 03/04/2013 at 7:36 am

Private daily newspapers are being sold in Burma for the first time in almost 50 years, as a state monopoly ends.

Sixteen papers have so far been granted licences, although only four were ready to publish on Monday.

This is another important milestone on Burma’s journey away from authoritarian rule, the BBC’s Jonathan Head reports from the commercial capital, Rangoon (BBC report on 1 April).

Yet our president has the cheek on 1 April to say. “We want to see Myanmar succeed, and are prepared to do whatever is within our means to support this transition towards democracy and steady development.”

“Where Myanmar goes, S’pore doesn’t dare follow” is what he should be saying.

Update at 10.20 — Forgot to mention that people don’t need a licence to protest: peaceful demonstrations are not an issue.

ST never told you of these comparisons

In Economy, Media on 01/04/2013 at 5:29 am

 

They appeared at http://veritas-lux.blogspot.sg/2013/03/social-darwinism-taking-its-toll-on.html. Thank SG Daily’s Facebook for drawing my attention to them.

https://atans1.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/low-employee-loyalty-in-singapore.jpghttps://atans1.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/singapore-employees-not-happy.jpg

Editor at Sundaylife is visually impaired or a FT?

In Media on 31/03/2013 at 7:28 am

Sundaylife carried as its top headline, “Hey We are S’poreans too … talks to children of mixed marriages on what it means to be a S’porean on the inside and look like a foreigner on the outside”. All gd, constructive, nation-building stuff to counter the likes of Gilbert Goh and friends, and the extremists among TRE readers.

Problem is that the photos of the four kids chosen to “look like a foreigner on the outside” look so “local”. Without the captions to describe their mixed ethnic origins, they look, to me at least, like typical S’poreans. And if they look “foreign”, Sundaylife’s Sumiko Tan doesn’t look S’porean.

What say you?

Either the editor has eye-sight problems or is a recently arrived FT, who doesn’t know how true blue S’poreans look like, or both. Only an FT would think that S’poreans must look Chinese, Malay or Indian, not realising that there are the Eurasians, and that many S’poreans are the products of mixed marriages.

What say you?

Netizens cannot be trusted in a crisis, only the govt & MSM?

In Humour, Media on 29/03/2013 at 6:01 am

The G’s ability to win the argument among netizens is increasingly in question; witness its “defeat” over the Population White Paper online. Its online outreach appears to be confined to making speeches available online and Facebook postings by individual minist. How would it deal with the barrage of messages that will flood the online space in crisis time? http://www.breakfastnetwork.sg/?p=2746ers and MPs

Couldn’t stop laughing at “The G’s ability to win the argument among netizens is increasingly in question; witness its “defeat” over the Population White Paper online.” Only someone* who works or once worked* for SPH, MediaCorp or the govt  would think that cyberspace was ever friendly to the govt or even neutral. It was always injun or Vietminh or Viet Kong territory where the govt soldiers and mercenaries were besieged in forts and could only move around outside the forts in heavily armed convoys. Even our PM has conceded that the internet was made up of “cowboy towns”.

The internet and social media became relevant when the 2011 GE and PE showed that the “noises” there reflected “facts on the ground”. Contrast this with the 2006 GE, when the “noises” were noise: going on the internet, it showed that the PAP were doomed to defeat.

And I tot that “How would it deal with the barrage of messages that will flood the online space in crisis time?” had the underlying, unstated assumption that netizens were irresponsible people who could not be relied upon when there was a crisis: with the implication that only the constructive, nation-building media (and presumably retirees from it) could be trusted. This I disagree with. After all, SPH’s Stomp is not a particularly responsible online publication (it hired paid content providers who pretended to be ordinary citizen journalists, and one of them faked the news once). And based on these lapses (now corrected, we’ve been assured), it is reasonable to conclude that Alex Au, TOC, TRE, Donaldson Tan, Kum Hong, Andrew Loh, SDP etc have higher standards of integrity than Stomp. Only the TRS has Stomp-like standards, in my view.

What I suspect she means is that only SPH and MediaCorp journalists and editors (past and present) will parrot unthinkingly and uncritically the govt line. Here, there is another unstated assumption; that the govt line is the truth. The likes of Lucky Tan, S’pore Notes will (rightly in my view) etc would critique the govt view because they would have doubts.

But on the other hand, this same retired Dark Side keyboard wielding imperial storm trooper is the person behind Breakfast Network. Check it out: it tries to provide, entertaining, non-partisan tit bits for tot. Doesn’t often succeed, as the above example shows, but she is experimenting, and it’s a work-in-progress.

With TOC getting irrelevant**; Andrew Loh’s Publichouse seemingly stuck in a rut (one can only wish him well in his attempts to “tell stories”); and TRS going from strength to strength, one can only hope that the Breakfast Network works. With TRE’s mission being to provide a counter balance to the local  MSM’s spin, there is room for a more centrist website that can attract a mass audience: Breakfast Network could be that website.

If she succeeds, she will have shown that Darth Vader is not the only Dark Sider who returned to the Light. In fact, she would be better than Darth Vader, because he only repented to save his son, and died in the process. She would have returned to the Light because she wanted to, and she lived.

*I’ve heard stories from SPH insiders that she fancied herself to be next editor of ST after Han when Warren Fernandez left SPH.  He was brought back when Han was moved on after the 2011 GE. She then moved on out of SPH.  It had been alleged that she had tot that minister Yacoob’s sis was her only rival.

**This piece on TOC, despite being picked up, by SG Daily, didn’t have many readers. Usually when Sg Daily picks up a piece of mine, I get lots of hits.

Err why must S’poreans prove anything, Managing Editor of SPH?

In Media, Political governance, Uncategorized on 06/03/2013 at 6:44 am

On 24th February, SunT’s headline on its regular column by SPH’s Managing Editor* screamed: “Who’s out of touch – our leaders or people?”. In slightly smaller lettering,” S’poreans have to also prove that they are not a mollycoddled lot who have forgotten the realities of making a living in this competitive world and how this country made it against the odds.”

It irritated me for three reasons. The obvious one is that S’poreans already know “the realities of making a living in this competitive world”: in the last few years, they have had to put up with minimal increases in real income, escalating property prices** and inflation caused in part by the government’s very liberal immigration policies, amidst  turbulent economic conditions. The immigration policies that only now are being revised: not to reverse the situation, mind you, just  to slow the growth of FTs from the cattle-truck load to a lorry-load. I didn’t say this, Grace Fu said this when she blasted WP’s plans to limit FTs.

The second reason is that he seems to have forgotten that the govt had already admitted that ordinary S’poreans neede income rises: the issue was how to achieve it. On 25 February, Tharman announced the Budget and he said later, “And if you can’t raise incomes for the average person, for the median household and for those at the lower end of the wage ladder, your society frays.”

The third reason, it irritated me is is the unspoken assumption (which he may not even realise he made) that S’poreans are not sovereign: we have to answer to a higher authority. And this authority grades us to see whether our views are acceptable or not. If not acceptable, go get locked up under ISA, is it Mr Managing Editor?

This assumption is best explained by Alex Au in this and Dr Jothie Rajah (the first wife of our Law Minister, according to Kum Hong)

It is here that Rajah brings up a novel point. Very often, the PAP in its defence alludes to how Singapore’s legal and political system is descended from Britain. This is used as yet another bullet point in support of ‘rule of law’ legitimacy. But she points out that in many ways, our laws are not descended from Britain. They are instead descended from colonial rule, and colonial rule is inherently illiberal. Colonial governments did not rule over citizens; they ruled over subjects. Colonial governors did not submit themselves to election nor permit much political contestation; they enacted laws such as the Internal Security Act and the Sedition Act meant to control rebellion, and they saw themselves as the enlightened and civilised few sent here to protect the natives who could not be trusted to see their own best interests, grasp the facts or even understand the complex issues of the day.

The examples she studied and presented in her book all have a similar character. She thus argues that

The nation-state has adopted the colonial legal regime in a manner that renders the nation-state a neo-colonising entity, subordinating and infantilising citizen-subjects.

Coming back to Mr Managing Editor: with an ally like this, the PAP and PM must be wondering, “Who needs enemies?”

————–

*His picture reminds me of one of Philip K Dick’s Unusuals in “Our Friends from Frolix 8″. The Ususuals ruled the solar system.

**Mah Bow Tan even ensured that property prices flew in a recession.https://atans1.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/property-prices-mm-lee-is-too-modest/

Waz missing in today’s ST?

In Media on 02/03/2013 at 8:25 am

And in Today too?

The news that the S’pore police have asked the FBI to assist it in the investigation of Todd’s death, after refusing the FBI’s help Backgrounder http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/03/01/intrigue-surrounds-americans-death-in-singapore/. I read it in my FT, a financial newspaper.

Our MSM ashamed of our Home Team’s ang moh tua kee attitude*? Or of our police incompetency? SPG missed a hard disk in his flat, that his parents found, and took it back to the US. Or of U-turn? Or all three?

—–

*Remember two ang moh caws were allowed to skip bail, and one even given PR status, after beating up true blue S’poreans. We were told the police were carrying out an internal disciplinary hearing on the matter, but nothing has been heard. Officer cleared? But public not told that officer was right to have ang moh tua kee attitude?

Is China’s media less constructive, & nation-building than ours?

In Media on 28/02/2013 at 6:56 am

With SPH (see today’s ST) and MediaCorp working real hard to convince us that declining population growth is death*, I tot I’d show how unconstructive the Chinese state-owned media can be.

Xinhua could, in this rare instance, be a little more generous to its government.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/analects/2013/02/chinas-poor

And this. Somehow I can’t help thinking that SPH and MediaCorp will not allow such stuff to be seen here: could affect NatCon?

Even the state broadcaster, CCTV, has offered a rare hint that the party’s efforts to portray a country of growing happiness are being greeted by some with cynicism. Beginning in late September it broadcast a series of programmes called “Reaching the grass-roots: people’s voices from within”. Ministry of Tofu, a blog about Chinese society, reported that producers of the series must have been somewhat disappointed if they expected their interviewees, who were asked how happy they were, to gush with satisfaction. Many dodged the question and some gave answers that were nonsensical or funny.

On its website, the government news agency, Xinhua, offered a similar description of the responses given to the CCTV cameras (here, in Chinese). China’s ever-boisterous users of Twitter-like services gleefully took to one anecdote in particular, about a migrant worker in the northern province of Shanxi. The words “are you happy” in Chinese happening to sound identical to “are you surnamed Fu”, the worker replied to the question by answering, “My surname is Zeng”.  CCTV’s willingness to air this clip was an unusual deviation from its propaganda-driven norm. Xinhua blamed the responses of Mr Zeng and others on “the pressures of life” in a fast-changing China. http://www.economist.com/blogs/analects/2012/10/unrest-cities

But let’s not only bitch about our 30-pieces-of silver (?) journalists and editors. Would S’poreans interviewed have given the kind of answers that the Cina public gave? Somehow I suspect not.

The media, like the govt, reflects the society, how imperfectly. S’poreans have to accept the responsibility for the media and govt that we have.

*Actually all they need to do is to point point that the conventional wisdom in macroeconomics is that declining TFRs, aging populations and  declining populations are bad. And the immigration ias good economics. But then that would remind S’poreans that LKY, Dr Goh etc defied the then conventional wisdom. Then the prevailing view was that MNC investment was another form of colonialism. They were right and the “wisdom” was wrong. While dad and friends defied the ang moh “tua kee” attitude, son and friends (like Tharman) embrace ang moh conventional thinking.

Top story here here? ST & BBC

In Media on 17/02/2013 at 7:00 am

BBC Online carried a headline on its global news Home Page linking to a story  on the crowd protesting about Population White Paper http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21485729

ST carried the story on page 4. The front page carried  a story on a standard, nothing new,  speech by PM. S’pore the new North Korea?

 

White Paper fiasco: Who goofed?

In Economy, Media, Political economy, Political governance on 03/02/2013 at 6:39 am

So we now know that the 6.9m figure in the White Paper is a “worse-case scenario”

— “Reiterating that the 6.9 million figure should be viewed as “the worst-case scenario”****, Mr Khaw wrote: “We hope we do not reach that figure; we may never reach that figure.”

–” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said … he fully agrees with Mr Khaw’s explanation that a 6.9 million population is not a target, but just a worst-case, aggressive scenario the Government must prepare for.”

(Excerpts from MediaCorp)

So why didn’t the media tell us this when the media reported the White Paper? The media reported the figure of 6.9m as though it was set in reinforced concrete that had platinum bars rather than steel bars. Surely when the staff of the s/o the disgraced president, and Yaacob*gave the local media their instructions local journalists and editors the customary briefing, they made it clear that the 6.9m figure is a “worse-case scenario”? And that the figure was used to ensure that there would be adequate infrastructure should this happen, which the government didn’t want to happen. And that if it didn’t happen, S’poreans would have even better facilities for which they should thank the PAP on bended knees.

But these messages were never reported. They came to the attention of “the inhabitants of cowboy towns” who were happily shooting holes into the White Paper, and other S’poreans only when the PM Facebooked and Khaw blogged these messages.

Then the local media parroted reported what the PM and Khaw had said.

Either the local media are staffed by stupid people, or are full of subversives, who take their 30 pieces of silver ** while saboing the PAP government. Or maybe the going rate is a lot more than 30 pieces of silver? And they are not getting it? Hence the government’s messages didn’t get broadcasted.

Or were the minions of s/o Devan Nair, and Yaacob, incompetent, stupid spinners? Journalists and editors are claiming that they were never ordered briefed that the 6.9m figure was a “worse-case scenario”. They claim to be as surprised as us netizens that the PM and Khaw are now making this claim.

Whatever it is, if WP Low is to get his wish of continued PAP hegemony, PM should get a grip on the PAP spin machine. He and his ministers can’t do all the spinning themselves. Maybe Auntie Sylvia or Show Mao, in emulation of a Tang dynasty official, can whisper this to the PAP, “behind closed doors”. Remember WP, yr mission is to preserve PAP hegemony.

**He used the phrase “worse-case scenario” when one LKY gave his Hard Truth on Malay Muslims not integrating.

Not in constructive, nation-building ST, Today or Singapolitics

In Humour, Malaysia, Media on 30/01/2013 at 5:09 am

This appeared in BT yesterday. Surprised it did not appear in ST or Today or in Singapolitics. Yaacob, Lawrence, PM: rather than CoCs for netizens, juz make sure SPH and MediaCorp editors earn their thirty pieces of silver ++, by printing independent “validation” of PAP Hard Truths.

M’sia’s minimum wage law may result in food inflation

Another consequence is higher outflow of money

… Food inflation and the outflow of money are the likely consequences of the implementation of the minimum wage law, which came into force four weeks ago.

From Jan 1, employers must pay a minimum wage of RM900 (S$366) a month in Peninsular Malaysia and RM800 a month in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

In an interview with Malaysia’s Business Times recently, Malaysia Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Shamsuddin Bardan estimated that foreign workers, on average, send back some RM700 each month, which is half of their take-home pay, including overtime claims.

“With a conservative estimate of two million foreign workers here, that works out to be RM1.4 billion flowing out of Malaysia to their home countries every month …

Reading SPH, MediaCorp investment “advice”?

In Financial competency, Media on 20/01/2013 at 6:38 am

Watch this then. American-centric but fully of useful insights on the problems of the advice we get http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2013/01/finance-guru-bubble

Sadly, the view here is that teaching financial competency to kids is not a solution to financial illiteracy.

Bringing online stuff to offline people

In Internet, Media on 04/01/2013 at 5:22 am

Ravi the do-gooder, NSP member and ex-TOC Indian Chief wrote on FB juz before the hols: If  ST* feels that online voices are not representative of the majority, then they should just ‘unfriend’ some of these ‘voices’, and spend the time tracking what’s happening online, in the field, listening to the voice of the majority. I have had reporters from the mainstream media asking me for leads for stories. Leads which are not difficult to find (some of which you can find when you just google for it). The fact is, the voices online have made the jobs of the mainstream media journalists easier, to crowdsource ideas, and to get leads. So appreciate the ‘barking dogs’ will you?

Ravi should relax. The Commanches and other injuns, and cowboys own the internet. The PAPpies are under siege in internet equivalent of Fort Apache and the YPAP trolls only venture out under the cover of darkness and anonymity. If they venture out in the light, they will be wiped out juz as Custer’s men were wiped out by the Sioux and Cheyenne at the battle of Little Big Horn.

The challenge for social or political activists is bringing the material available online to the people who don’t go online often or at all. The ST article is aimed at these people, not netizens. The message to these offliners is, “Netizens are bad, lawless people: barbarians bent on destroying S’pore. Only the constructive, nation-building media, especially ST, and the PAP stand between a prosperous S’pore and them.”

Pushing online material into physical S’pore is something a political party can do effectively. Example: During the 2008 M’sian general election campaign, the Opposition were photocopying copes of M’siakini etc stuff and distributing it to the voters even in rural areas. I have been told they even SMSed articles. Though the mind boggles as how such stuff is SMSed.

I hope the NSP will put Ravi in a position where he can try out such ideas. But given the power balance in NSP, I doubt it very much. But that’s for another post

Thanks to Uncle Leong, we netizens know that the PAP’s latest statement on AIM is “[f]ull of holes”. Problem is: Do the offliners who rely on the local media know of Uncle Leong’s analysis? (BTW, he RI boy. So don’t see us RI boys no ak. Not all of us are Tan Kin Lian or Tan Jee Say.)

Bringing goodies such as Uncle Leong’s piece to the masses is the challenge, not fighting the PAP and the local media on the internet. We own the internet.

——–

*A piece by an ST editor attacking netizens. It appeared the  Saturday before Christmas. Gd riposte here.

Links

http://www.voiddecker.com/2012/12/vox-populi-and-the-vocal-online-community/

http://leongszehian.com/?p=2449

SPH, MediaCorp newsrooms should be like this?

In Humour, Media on 02/01/2013 at 1:37 pm

We saw the most surreal newsroom … There were no journalists there. “Why not?” we asked. “We don’t need them yet. The news hasn’t arrived.”

We learnt the news is literally delivered once a day by the state news agency. The job of the journalists was to read it out, word for word, unaltered.

BBC story

And the govt is wondering why productivity is so low? It’s not the SMEs with their poorly paid FTs. It’s the constructive, nation-building local media with highly paid copyists of govt media release.

 

How TRE can monetise its popularity

In Media on 31/12/2012 at 4:19 am

— By taking a page from successful US-based webcomics

I came across this while reading an article on the rise of webcomics in the Economist:

One thing they have in common is how they make their money. The typical audience for one of the leading web comics is between 1m and 10m unique browser visits per month, comparable to a medium-sized newspaper website (the website of the Daily Mail, the best-read newspaper on the web, gets around 48m per month). But unlike on newspaper websites, where advertising is the main source of revenue, the audience on web comics are not just readers—they are also customers. Most artists sell T-shirts, books, mouse mats, posters and other paraphernalia. The most successful at monetising content is said to be Mr Inman: his site, “The Oatmeal” made $500,000 in 2011 from its audience of around 7m unique visitors per month.

Try this. If it works, gd for S’pore and TRE. TRE  may be ableto cover costs and pay the team shumething. If it doesn’t, then S’poreans, especially TRE’s “We hate the PAP” readers, deserve the PAP as the ruling party.

And the article goes on:

Amplified by social media—Mr Inman has some 700,000 Facebook followers—this audience can be powerful. One extremely long and exceptionally geeky comic last summer on “The Oatmeal”, extolling the virtues of the inventor Nikola Tesla and attacking his better-known rival, Thomas Edison, somehow snowballed into a campaign to save one of Tesla’s labs on the outskirts of New York. By leveraging his immense traffic to attract donations and to sell T-shirts and other gear, Mr Inman raised $1m in nine days—enough, with matching funding from New York State, to buy the building.

 

What our MSM doesn’t tell us about Virgin Atlantic

In Airlines, Humour, Media on 04/12/2012 at 6:40 am

It’s in crisis. Deep crisis.

Auntie’s still a great way to fly but its record in investing in other airlines is horrible: think NZ Air.

And now the Arab airlines are stealing its premium customers via slightly better service, and just as good connections via the Gulf hubs. And lower costs: our S’pore Aunties are no longer that cheap. But bit susa to pass of PRC, Pinoy FTs as S’pore Gals. Only M’sians can get away with pretending to be S’poreans.

Good backgrounder (added at 8.50am on day of posting)

SPH reporter can’t do %ages and other SPH horrors

In Media on 09/11/2012 at 5:26 am

So Ms Maria Almenoar defended herself (here’s her defence and a critique).

Forget about who is at fault (most probably both made mistakes), I have two issues with her.

She made the point that since she knew taxi drivers could earn up to $5,000 a month, $7,000 is possible. Well, I suspect that she didn’t realise that $7,000 is 40% more than $5,000. It may be possible but because it’s a big percentage jump, she should have been sceptical.

Next, what is clear from her account, is that my take on how SunT covered the story is correct: no attempt at verification. She says this was not possible.

I am willing to concede this point. But it was possible to see if the number made sense. The backlash against the story was made credible and respectable because a cabbie blogger came out with a detailed analysis on why it was impossible for said driver to earn $7,000 consistently working just eight hours a day. Later there were other pieces explaining that working 12-16 hours to earn that kind of money was not physically sustainable over long periods of time.

Ms Maria Almenoar being a seasoned transport correspondent could have done her sums and confronted the cabbie with her numbers. She didn’t.

But, SPH is being unfair in making her shoulder the defence of the story. It’s not only her mistake. There is an editorial process in any newsroom to see if a story meets certain quality standards before it is published. It clearly failed.

Here’s another case of bad reporting.

Last Friday (2 November), this appeared online: The chief executive of Malay/Muslim community self-help group Mendaki has come out to clarify that Indian-Muslims do receive help from the organisation, contrary to what several netizens had written on the group’s Facebok page.

Madam Moliah Hashim said in a note on the page on Monday that only two of the group’s many schemes are exclusively for Malays, and invited those concerned to a dialogue session with her. ST report.

Note ST’s definition of  “several netizens”. It means “almost 800 comments which were overwhelmingly in agreement with” the complainant. Don’t believe me? Read the whole story.

Now for something more substantive, than juz sniping. Mendaki was described as  “Malay/Muslim community self-help group”.  But ST reported PM saying this about Mendaki, on 29th October:  “he said in a recent interview with the Malay media to mark the 30th anniversary of Malay self-help group Mendaki”.  Which is it ST? Adding to the confusion, SunT, last Sunday, used the term “Malay-Muslim organisations” to describe Mendaki, among others, something pM used in the speech SunT was reporting.

There are differences between “Malay/Muslim”, “Malay” and “Malay-Muslim”. The last term implies that the Malays must be Muslims while the first term carries the implication that there is no nexus between Malay and Muslim.

So what is Mendaki, SPH?

I’ll end with some tots about the Malay* community.

Notice that the Malays* don’t have their own exclusive race-based help or support group unlike the Chinese or Indians. They got to share Mendaki programmes with Indian-Muslims, except for two programmes . Why this state of affairs  when PM has said that there is a role for race-based self-help groups in said story of 29 October?

Snide remarks aside, what it shows is that contrary to a few Hard Truths, the Malay community is not exclusive and in-ward looking. Shouldn’t ST be pointing this out?

One of these days, I must blog on what a M’sian Cina activist is saying: that in M’sia, Malay activists will die to save Chinese and Indians activists from attacks by Malay ultras or the police.

Maybe the purveyor of Hard Truths mixes with the “wrong” Malays? After all, Malay minister Yaacob muttered “worse case scenario” when LKY made his comments about Malays not “mixing”. Indeed his sister was present when LKY made the comments, and she didn’t challenge him did she? Watch the DVD.

————————

*Ya, I’m avoiding the issue of whether Malays in S’pore must be Muslims. Unlike in M’sia, this is not in the constitution. If our constitution avoids the issue, so can I. Anyway it is a verifiable Hard Truth is that every Malay, S’porean or M’sian, I know is a Muslim. So the point is an academic one.

A Hard Truth about SPH reporting

In Media on 02/11/2012 at 5:15 am

There were two full-page articles in the Sunday Times on Oct 28, 2012 about two cabbies earning $7,000. per month. Since then there’s been plenty in the “cowboy” town about the accuracy of these stories. This piece in TRE has prompted me to share what I’ve learnt about how SPH reports stories.

SunT regularly features the investment “geniuses” of S’pore. They all so smart, always make money. In the past, these stories regularly appeared in ST and, even BT.

Many years ago, I asked people in SPH, editors and reporters, how SPH goes about verifying these tales of investment prowess. The answers were evasive, avoided the issue, when they were answered at all. Often I was ignored.

Only one person, someone who had moved on from SPH, gave me a straight answer. She told me to read the stories carefully. It was always “XXX said he made millions” etc. It never (well almost never) said “XXX made millions’. So it seems that the stories on these investment “geniuses”, were stories based on what they said, not on verifiable facts.

Now go read those SunT pieces again. In the main, it is a straight forward piece of “he said”. No attempt at verification or analysis like like when SPH  reports ministerial statements. But this doesn’t mean the SPHreporters and editors are “not professional”: readers are daft. They “have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not”: “O foolish and senseless people”.

“Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?”

“They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not”.

Waz pt of scholar, ex-general, ex-Temasek MD as NOL’s CEO?

In Media, Shipping, Temasek on 01/11/2012 at 5:48 am

When NOL is listed as the least preferred Asian container line?

When NOL annced its turnaround last week and a sale of its building, I tot “Waz wrong?”: boast turnaround yet indulge in financial engr for short term gain. Didn’t have to wait long to find out.

This is what BT, part of the constructive nation-building, 30-pieces-of -silver(?) SPH wrote earlier this week 

NEPTUNE Orient Lines has disappointed some analysts with its third-quarter numbers even though it fought its way into the black with US$50 million in net profit, its first after six consecutive quarters of losses.

NOL, which owns the world’s seventh largest container line APL, fell 2.5 cents yesterday to end at $1.145.

“It underperformed just about everyone’s expectations. I’m not sure if people were expecting profit of that magnitude when the street’s view was about US$150 million,” said Timothy Ross, Credit Suisse head of transport research, Asia-Pacific. NOL is now among the least-preferred counters among Credit Suisse’s basket of seven Asian container companies.

Joining Credit Suisse in a dimmer view of NOL was CIMB, which downgraded NOL to “underperform” from “neutral”.

The problem with comparisons as distinct from Hard Truths (like Scholar is “betterest” for anything) is that they are so inconvenient that shumetimes the constructive, nation-building media must report them. Even thouh, ST has made him out to be a genius on par with the North Korean leaders who advise experts on how to do their work, BT had to report the facts saw them.

Hope this ex-general and Temasek MD doesn’t run NOL aground! The gd thing abt NOL is that it is lightly ge as the analysts sred, unlike other container lines. FTR, I got few lots. Better yield than FD.

But there are times when having scholars in senior posts helps. NSP used to hibernate between general elections. With two scholars on the executive commitee (Hazel and hubbie), NSP has decided not to indulge in its usual hibernation. It is actively walking the ground, and is finally planning a mone online. More next week.  

Related post

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/maersk-sails-to-profit-while-nol-loses-another-mast/

Scandis, Dutch, Germans & Poles speak better English than us!

In Humour, Media on 29/10/2012 at 6:41 am

In the light of the ongoing PSLE debate, I tot I should draw readers attention to this chart.

It is no surprise that our constructive, nation-building, 30-pieces-of silver media did not reproduce this chart. But I’m surprised that our alternate media too did not, despite a very anti-PAP blog being given this (by me).

Circle Line: the unasked questions

In Infrastructure, Media, Political governance on 28/10/2012 at 6:06 pm

I’m writing this on Sunday evening.

On Saturday morning, I read that replacing the Circle Line ‘s power cables would take 18 months, beginning from January next year.

SMRT said the areas between Dhoby Ghaut and Dakota Stations are more problematic, compared with other parts of the network, as the cables sit in an area that is prone to water seepage from the ground.

SMRT’s executive vice president for trains, Khoo Hean Siang, said there are plans to replace all the cables.

He added: “We want to change out to a higher grade cable that can submerge, (be) more water resistant to make sure … the system will last for 20 to 30 years.” CNA report.

But neither, MediaCorp nor SPH reporters asked:

—  “The North-South Line only started giving serious problems last year. It was opened in 1987. Why is the Circle Line giving problems so soon?”

— “Given the newness of the line, first opened in 2009, and with the latest stations connected just last year, how come the electric cables need replacing so fast?”

— “Why were these cables used?”

— ” As the total cost was nearly S$10bn, not peanuts, by any measure, why were these cables chosen?

— “What other problems could possibly happen, given the cables gave problems much earlier than anticpated?”

— What is the cost of replacing the cables?

— Who is bearing the cost of replacing the cables? SMRT? Or the govt? If SMRT, will dividends be affected? Or will fares have to rise?

And neither did they ask these questions on Sunday. and my Secret Squirrels and Morocco Moles in both these constructive, nation-building media organisations, tell me that tonite’s programmes and tomorrow’s editions will not ask these questions.

These are the questions that the media should be asking. I’m sure PAP MPs  and Lina Chiam will be asking some of these question in parliament.  And I’m sure netizens are already asking these questions. But I’m sure the WP MPs will be silent. Too busy looking at their bank statements to see if the 30 pieces of silver ++ have been paid into their accounts? Taz what my disillusioned Morocco Mole in WP is wondering.

At the very least, S’poreans must be told why the decision to purchase a cable, now known to be sub standard, was made or allowed to be made? Was it an “honest mistake” by someone or an entire organisation, or an organisational failure, or was there corruption?

My very simplistic answer is that in the 1980s when the first lines were being built, one LKY was PM. No-one wanted to explain to him why the trains would not be running on time. The Circle Line was largely built when the PM was one Goh Chok Tong, and his DPM was one Lee Hsien Loong, today’s PM, his chosen successors. Whatever history may say about LKY, the train lines built when he was PM lasted over 20 years, before giving serious problems. Under his chosen successors, the Circle Line didn’t even last fault-free for five years.

Sometimes change is not for the better, even ifthuggish methods of management have been replaced by more civilised, possibly less effective, methods.  

And while there is no longer fear in the air the media breathes, the mental “knucklebusters” still remain in the minds of the media.

LKY’s favourite editor

In Media on 24/10/2012 at 5:50 am

Don’t rush out and buy the book by LKY’s favourite ST editor, despite the rave reviews from SPH journalists, past and present.

I hear that in November a very reputable int’l publisher is coming out with a book by ex-ST journalist on his experiences at about the same time. Guy never made it to top. And NO, not by Cherrian George. ))))). Nor by Mano Sabnani, Balji, Conrad Raj, Ravi Vellu, Lee Hans, Ho Chin Beng, Maurice Neo, Edmund Wee or Bertha Henson.

Wait for this book to come out and if it is ignored by Team SPH, then go and buy it. It will be commercially available in all bookshops.

Maybe the Grand Historian of China, Sima Qian, who accepted castration as the price of not being executed for upsetting the emperor  (he had promised his father that he would finish his father’s book) could give us an insight into the thinking of the LKY’s favourite editor and his ilk.

Sima Qian could not bring himself to describe the horror of castration. He talks instead of going down to the “silkworm chamber”. A castrated man could easily die from blood loss or infection so after mutilation the victims were kept like silkworms in a warm, draught-free room.

I look at myself now, mutilated in body and living in vile disgrace. Every time I think of this shame I find myself drenched in sweat.”

But he also wrote that if, as a result of his sacrifice, his work ended up being handed down to men who would appreciate it, reaching villages and great cities, then he would have no regrets even after suffering 1,000 mutilations http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19835484.

Maybe they think the same way. Maybe it’s not juz the 30 pieces of silver multiplied manifold.

Having a free media doesn’t mean better quality

In Media on 22/10/2012 at 7:19 am

Netizens seem to think that a media not controlled by the govt will offer better and more sophisticated analysis. These comments from young journalists covering the crisis in Europe  indicate that even in a “free” media, the media often does do not explain the social effects of what is happening and, “Often journalists themselves do not know and do not make an effort to understand what is really going on.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20001940

LKY has always defended the PAP’s stance on the media by pointing out that the Rupert Murdoch’s of this world use their media interests for their personal agendas.

GIC: News not reported by SPH, MediaCorp/ LionsXII

In Footie, GIC, Media, Private Equity on 04/10/2012 at 6:36 pm

GIC recently sold out of its investment in British Airports Authority http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-17/qatar-buys-stake-in-heathrow-owner-baa-for-900-million-pounds.html

According to FT, the sellers recovered their investment and a little more: not a good deal. But these are difficult times.

Still trying to buy some assets, despite being turned down before at same pricehttp://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/20/msrresort-auction-idINL2E8JK6UJ20120820

On totally different issue, relax Young Lions. Playing winning football, not attractive football. Fans will forgive you if you play ugly and get into finals. And remember, other side has more to lose than you.

F1: Sharing the $1bn in value add with the losers?

In Economy, Media, Tourism on 01/10/2012 at 5:46 am

Singaporeans must accept F1 race as necessary event: MTI (The Trade and Industry Ministry says the community must accept the Singapore Formula One race as a necessary event in Singapore. This is because the race has reaped benefits such as enhancing Singapore’s image and bringing in more tourism receipts.)

And

Teo Ser Luck: Singaporeans must accept F1 as a necessary event

So how abt sharing the benefits with the losers?  Especially since F1 will bring S$1b “additional value-add” for economy, says Iswaran. (S’pore expects expenses to drop about 15% to 20%, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The cost of the race is about $150 million, with the government co-funding 6o% of the amount, reminded S. Iswaran, “Singapore’s second trade minister, who’s responsible for developing the tourism industry”. What he didn’t say is that hotels have to pay a special levy of 30% on room rates during F1 period, if they are “track-side” hotels and 20% for the others. )

Compensate the retailers at Suntec City  and those who work in the city? Tax rebates for them? If no such sharing of the benefits, then it’s some private profits, and big state windfall (via taxes and other levies), and public inconvenience and some private losses. Readers might also like to know that it costs at least US$120m to build a dedicated F1 circuit (excluding, it seems, land costs), so by inconveniencing commuters and some retailers, the government is passing on the one-off cost of building a F1 track to some S’poreans annually. Whoever said there isn’t a free lunch? More reason to offer compensation.  

BTW, before the race, our constructive, nation-building media gave the impression that a deal-breaker was S’pore’s demand that it be charged a nominal fee for the race (Monaco pays nothing because until S’pore’s F1, it was the only F1 race on public roads.) Well it seems, S’pore was told to f***off and it got buggered: “Ecclestone refused to confirm the cost of the new contract, although he did hint that negotiators for the Singapore race had failed to extract a Monaco-style race fee exemption. It is thought that they argued for one, pointing out how successful the race has been for sponsors. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/9560875/Singapore-Grand-Prix-secures-its-place-on-F1-circuit-after-organisers-agree-a-new-five-year-contract.html

Mr Iswaran only said there has been “a discount in franchise fees for the new contract”: whatever happened to the deal-breaker? The silence from our media on the issue is deafening.

Seems that Bernie said that the Thais willing to stage a F1 night race in Bangkok if he pulled out of S’pore.

Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/is-f1-worth-it-updated-with-2011-estimate-of-additional-tourism-revenue/ BTW not seen any details of estimated 2012 revenues despite all the talk of benefits.

Reacting to other bloggers’ tots

In Humour, Media, Political governance on 21/09/2012 at 5:38 am

There are several pieces the last few days that I wanted to respond to. So here are the quotes and  links to the pieces and my reactions to them.

These u/m bloggers have got it absolutely right. S’poreans should empower themselves by PM’s NatCon for our own ends, subverting it. Let’s use NatCon constructively to build civil society in our nation.

My point is that we should stop relying on the government, for them to handhold us all the way; we, as citizens, have the abilities and intelligence to bring something new to the table. Guanyinmao’s Musings

This is not to say that a national conversation is useless. Instead of criticising it, those of us who care should seize the agenda, put the issues we are concerned about on the table by blogging about it, emailing it to the government ministries and make them public on our blogs, speak to MPs (both opposition and ruling party), organise forums, create a movement. Andrew Loh, Publichouse.sg

In the bad old days, these two bloggers would be detained under the ISA for being too clever by half. But heck, PM’s different. So give him credit for not using the ISA, and for being willing to be generous with our money: spending it to make life more comfortable for ourselves. Teachers, and doctors and other healthcare professions should be happy with their pay rises. GE sooner than later?

Propaganda machine dysfunctional? Or is it juz MediaCorp and its CNA? SPH hasn’t goofed yet? One can only hope.

So far, out of the 50 people supposedly from all walks of life who were invited to share their thoughts (except dirty ones) with Our Supreme Leader, it has been discovered that more than a handful have applied for membership with the ruling party. New Nation

National Conversation has rapidly degenerated into ‘Spot the secret PAP member’ contest. Donaldson Tan

Six or seven out of 50 seems a lot, and then there the PA people and family relations. What abt trade unionists? On Wednesday, a picture began circulating on Facebook giving the background of 36 participants. Netizens accused them of being “running dogs” of the PAP.

The above shows how new media makes it difficult for traditional media to be constructive and nation-building.

And while the governing PAP takes seriously the task of using the media to “guide public opinion”, with a friend (or is it a “running dog”?) , in the constructive, nation-building MediaCorp, the PM doesn’t need “cowboy town” bloggers to cast doubts on NatCon. First there was the uninviting blogger Ravi and friends (“because PM had met the bloggers”), then this. What next MediaCorp?

Actually, given that a PAP MP is the MD of the S’pore operation of an int’l PR firm, it’s a bad reflection on that firm’s capabilities that these things can happen. He shouls know better.

But the fact that bloggers focus on the numbers and not on what the PAPpies and friends said, gives the impression that these PAPpies and allies didn’t contribute to the conversation. So why bother abt naming and shaming them, except that it’s a great blood sport, discrediting them and the governing PAP? Now if they had skewed the conversation, then bitch abt their skewing of the conversation, not juz their numbers. Sorry, I no watch television, so no imput there.

It’s private and public LOL!

My avatar commented on Facebook when he read this SDP rant abt Dr Chee being prevented from selling his books at a spot where he was arrested for protesting.: “It’s public space for purpose of  “protesting”. It’s private space in terms of selling stuff. I kid you not: law like that LOL. Dr Chee shld go to spot in Raffles City where JBJ used to sell his books. And see what happens. ))))”. AG confirms this view this correct.

Trying to manufacture a controversy to sell more books in a very worthy cause? Plenty of lawyers associated with SDP, so could have advised it on the law. But then they are “trouble makers” like Teo and Ravi. LOL.

[T]he summary removal of my piece has damaged my reputation suggesting as it does that I would write material that was defamatory and untrue. It goes to the heart of my credibility. KennethJ

He shld stop taking  himself so seriously and stop sliming others, this son of the much-loved JBJ. He is doing himself (and memory of dad) no favours by being so childishly petulant regularly. Take his  response on Alex Tan, vis-a-vis Mrs Chiam’s classy, high EQ response. She didn’t have a First Class in econs from Cambridge (she’s only a British-trained nurse), but she sure knows how to handle a tricky situation, unlike him.

Funny thing is that despite being so full of himself, he made a fool of self when he publicly got the words of the Pledge wrong at a public rally last yr. And in an ang moh accent too. Govt scholars (including Tony and Hazel) went to posh British unis. They don’t speak in ang moh accent. But he wants to show that he is different? The excuse that he worked many yrs in London, cuts no ice with me. Know someone who went to a really posh (and intellectually demanding) English public school, and then went to work in the City when it was a racist place before finally returning home. Speaks English like LKY.

And talking of LKY, I come back to the tot of throwing people into jail.

It would be the sadness of all the world if Mr Lee were to shy away from doing the one thing which would leave a lasting legacy for all of us, before he eventually passes on. And this one thing is to offer an apology to those whose lives were torn apart by his actions. Andrew Loh, Publichouse.sg

If you read the piece, the examples of “wrongs” that need to be apologised for are things that LKY tot he was right to do. And which many S’poreans at the time gave him the benefit of the doubt for doing (me for instance), if they didn’t outright support him. It is only with hindsight that these decisions seem to many, especially younger S’poreans, to be wrong.

Take the 1987 Marxists’ arrests: liberation theology worried even the Roman Catholic church. The insurgencies in Latin and Central America, partly inspired by liberation theology worried the US government who feared that the USSR was using the insurgencies to attack the USA in a vulnerable area. And if you have heard as I have, a Filipino priest, expound on the need for the church to fight social injustice, one can be reasonably afraid of the do-gooders: that they will be taken advantage of by the USSR and friends.

We now know who won the Cold war. But in 1987, the USSR was the evil empire. And LKY was planning to pass on power.

S’pore’s paralympian & our “fact free” media & social media

In Media on 11/09/2012 at 6:40 pm

“You all know how free the Filipino media is; they can even be very free with the facts,” was a statement made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Having worked and lived in Manila, I can understand the sentiments behind the statement. The Filipino media does “invent” facts to fit the points they are trying to make. The media are free (and journalists have been murdered because someone powerful is upset) there, but hardly fair.

But having found out that Laurentia Tan, the paralympian, is based in England because of the facilities there, I can only shake my head in sadness and annoyance that our constructive, nation-building media, Yahoo! and all but one of the bloggers who raved on her performance and what it means to be a S’porean, failed to mention that fact.

She retains her S’porean nationality but otherwise she like the Chinese ping-pong gal Olympians moved on to better herself.

I’m not criticising her or her parents. They did what had to be done for her to get a better quality of life. But I’m criticising our “fact free” media and social media. The former for not telling us that she had lived in England for many yrs, and the latter (with one honourable exception) for talking rubbish, assuming that she was based in S’pore.

As Cherian Georger has written (no link*), bloggers here are dependent on the constructive, nation-building media for the facts. They rave and rant based on what the constructive, nation-building media.

———————–

*I disagree that our MSM journalists and editors are professional. As I’ve often pointed out, they have problems reporting financial and economic news that could be politically sensitive. They obviously don’t believe Goh Chok Tong. When he was PM, he talked at a MediaCorp dinner of a servile media doing the government no favours . Shortly afterwords, an inconvenient editor was removed.

Not reported: banking jobs being relocated out of S’pore systematically

In Economy, Media on 04/09/2012 at 7:10 am

Credit Suisse is relocating dozens of back-office jobs from Singapore to India and Poland as part of efforts to cut costs, the FT reported on Monday. It also reported that Morgan Stanley last month completed shifting about 80 back-office jobs to India and Hungary, from Singapore.

And that other banks were planning to move back office jobs to “cheaper” countries.

Our constructive, nation-building media were very quick to report a survey that UK investment bankers wanted to come here, but while Today and BT (online) reported bits of above, ST never did. And BT (the paper) does not seem to have reported it.

AND they all don’t publish the bit about Morgan Stanley and the other banks. Remember you read it here.

Err Lee what did you say abt food inflation?

In Economy, Media, Political governance on 03/09/2012 at 5:13 am

Last month when asked about the current drought in the United States Midwest which is affecting corn and soybean crops, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development and chairman of Retail Prices Working Group said it is not likely to have an impact here in the near term.

This is because Singapore imports a negligible amount corn, and only seven per cent of its soy beans from the US.

But a sustained price hike for the grains, which are used for animal feed, he said, may raise commodity prices in the long term. (More)

Funny then that on 30 August BBC Online reported

Global food prices have leapt by 10% in the month of July, raising fears of soaring prices …

The bank said that a US heatwave and drought in parts of Eastern Europe were partly to blame for the rising costs.

The price of key grains such as corn, wheat and soybean saw the most dramatic increases, described by the World Bank president as “historic”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-19431890

So the issue is not even that only in the long term food prices here will rise, but how soon. That it will rise in “the near term”, despite his denial, is a probability. Even before the spoke juz before National Day, prices had alread risen. I mean as a MTI minister, surely he would have access to that information, unless his officials hid data from him to make him look stupid?

Discounting that possibility or the possibility that MTI does not have access to near-live data (highly unlikely),  either this jnr minister doesn’t know economics (maybe taz why he did not get promoted to minister?*) or he was juz mindlessly spinning knowing that the constructive, nation-building media would not challenge him, and that people would believe him.

Methinks one test of whether the government is sincere about having a national conversation is for ministers to stop assuming that the people are simple-minded to believe whatever ministers say. Those days are over. S’poreans have the internet and social media to keep tabs on waz happening in the rest of the world and in S’pore. The days when the constructive, nation-building local media filtered everything are over.

——

*Unlikely given Tharman’s and Hng Kiang’s grasp of basic economic theory 

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/will-hougang-make-the-pap-moan-the-inflation-blues-not-joke-abt-it/

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/tharman-has-a-point/

Don’t denigrate LionsXII draw, ST

In Footie, Media on 29/08/2012 at 7:20 am

I am annoyed with ST’s comments on the team’s performance against Johor FA. Team did what they had to do.

As a famous Arsenal manager once said,”Strikers win games, defenders win trophies”. Look at today’s Arsenal. Stylish play but where’s the trophies?

Kindergartens & the ruling PAP

In Media, Political economy, Political governance on 27/08/2012 at 5:31 am

So the PM in yesterday’s speech promised that the government will play a more active role in pre-school education to help S’poreans “level up”*. Actually it already has a very active role**.

Ever since the Lien Foundation came out with its report earlier this yr which in its media released stated, “Singapore’s preschool education placed 29th amongst 45 countries on the Starting Well Index” and reported that  South Korea (10th) and Hong Kong (19th) were ahead of us,there has been the usual hot air from the government, the constructive, nation-building media, and S’poreans, largely off-line via the media***.

One issue that all three groups skated around are the two elephants in the ice-rink: the PAP Community Foundation (PCF)  which is the dominant provider of kindergartens in S’pore, and its smaller cousin NTUC; and the ring-master (the governing PAP). Remember that the NTUC and PCF are “teeth” to the lips of the governing PAP.

It’s not surprising that the government and its minion, the media, avoided talking abt the role of the PCF and NTUC (until last night) and the government in the failure of kindergarten education here (PM skated over why the system needed fixing). So let me lay it out thickly.

The report says that where S’pore falls short is on quality issues: “Most of Singapore’s weaknesses showed up in the area of‘quality’, which includes factors like ‘student-­‐teacher ratio’,‘average preschool teacher wages’, ‘preschool teacher training’and ‘linkages between preschool and primary school’. All top ten countries on the Index have ratios ranging from one teacher to five to 11 children, compared to Singapore’s 1:20 ratio.”

It’s a question of funding.

While the NTUC and PCF cannot be blamed for the lack of funding because they are, unlike private kindergartens serving the moneyed, trying to serve the masses, not the children of elite, middle class bloggers: they can be blamed for not lobbying the government for more money to rectify ‘student‐teacher ratio’,‘average preschool teacher wages’, and ‘preschool teacher training’.

So until the government increases its funding (which the PM now has), the children of S’pore’s masses will continue suffering from low quality kindergarten education.

———

*He said: “First of all, we’ll establish a new statutory board to oversee pre-school education. Secondly, we’ll provide and upgrade pre-school teacher training to raise standards. Thirdly, we’ll bring in new anchor operators, in addition to PCF and NTUC.

“And fourthly, we’ll upgrade the anchor operators — the existing ones as well as the new ones — so that they can improve the careers they can offer the teachers.

“They can offer structured development opportunities for the staff, they can introduce creative learning methods for the students but to raise the base — the quality of the mass market.” CNA

**I read with amazement last week the spate of articles in, and letters to our constructive, nation-building media on whether kindergarten education should be “nationalised”.

***Not surprised netizens have been quiet. They don’t breed. Or if they do, they send their kids to gd, expensive kindergartens. They are middle class elitists.

Not reported here: another “little speck” wins 7 Olympic gold medals

In Media on 23/08/2012 at 5:16 am
5.3m people: 7 gold, 2 silver & 3 bronze medals. Puts “our” one bronze medal for 5.2m people in perspective doesn’t it? 
 
The place is Yorkshire, England, which is celebrating after its athletes won a total of 12 Olympic medals, which would see Yorkshire placed 12th  or 13th (Khazakstan had 13 medals but it had only one silver medal) in the medal table if it was an independent country*. Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/breaking-news/offbeat/yorkshire-athletes-score-12-medals-16196784.html#ixzz23OqwtPAU
 
(BTW, Yorkshire County Cricket Club, a cricketing power in English county cricket  “put themselves at a disadvantage from 1968 until 1992 by insisting that all its players must have been born within the historic county boundaries of Yorkshire while all the other county teams strengthened themselves by signing overseas Test players. In 1992, the birth qualification rule was first modified to include those educated within the county, a dispensation that allowed Michael Vaughan to play; and was then abandoned altogether. Yorkshire’s first overseas player that season was 19-year old Sachin Tendulkar.” Wikipedia entryn on Yorkshire County Cricket Club)
 
We got one bronze, courtesy of three PRC she gladiators. What price glory? 
 
And this shows countries that underperform or overperform at the Olympics. Although S’pore is not mentioned, HK is. It undeperperforms winning only one bronze, when it should have won seven medals. Our PRC gladiator team with two bronzes would put us above it, but still an underperformer.
 
———————-
 
**Australia and Japan were 10th and 11th with seven gold medals too.

Hong Leong Finance sues Morgan Stanley for deception, selling investments designed to fail

In Financial competency, Media on 17/08/2012 at 8:52 am

(I’m reporting this as our constructive, nation-building media only reported this story very briefly when it became public last week. Wonder why?)

“Morgan Stanley secretly, deceptively and wrongfully invested the investors’ principal in very risky underlying assets,” according to the complaint.

The investments were described to Heong Leong as synthetic collateralized debt obligations based on the performance of major corporations and sovereign nations with high credit ratings, according to the complaint.

Morgan Stanley instead tied the notes to much riskier investments in real estate-related companies and troubled Icelandic banks, including Glitnir Bank HF and Kaupthing Bank HF.

Morgan Stanley issued the notes through a special-purpose entity it controlled called Pinnacle. Italso positioned to profit when the notes failed because it had entered into swap transactions with the noteholders through another affiliated entity, Morgan Stanley Capital Services Inc.

“When Morgan Stanley’s ’rigged’ underlying assets failed, money from customers was transferred to MS Capital,” Hong Leong said in the complaint.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-06/morgan-stanley-sued-by-singapore-firm-over-pinnacle-notes.html

Scholar, ex-SAF chief & Temasek MD fails to turnaround NOL

In Media, Shipping on 14/08/2012 at 7:00 am

Last week, NOL posted a larger than anticipated bigger net loss (by 76%) for the second quarter compared to a year earlier, dragged down by one-off expenses linked to impairment losses and restructuring charges, it said.

Net loss for the three months ended June 29, 2012, stood at US$118 million, which widened from a net loss of US$57 million for the same period a year ago. This result – which marks the sixth straight quarter of losses – missed market expectations of a net loss of US$67.6 million, a Bloomberg poll of six analysts showed: by 76%. Loss per share for the second quarter stood at 4.57 US cents, against a loss per share of 2.21 US cents.

Excluding these charges, NOL would have registered a turnaround for its core earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) over the year on higher freight rates and cost savings, NOL claims. It said that market conditions remain uncertain.

Funnily our constructive, nation-building media didn’t remind us of its CEO’s credentials for becoming CEO: great experience except in shipping, a specialist industry. He ain’t even a navy man.

When, Maesk’s container division reports its latest results, I’ll compare its performance (boss is a true blue shipping man) to scholar’s performance at NOL. Last time, he did badly https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/with-ex-general-scholar-at-helm-nol-still-underperforms-maersk/.

Wonder how the soldier boy going to be SMRT’s CEO will perform? As a ex-SAF chief, the trains should run on time, and safely: unlike when a retailer ran it. Also train depots would be secured against vandals and terrorists.  But can he improve its financial numbers, something the NOL CEO (another ex-general) failed to do at NOL.

Update on 16 August at 1.06pm: How the constructive, nation-building BT on 14 August reports CEO’s achievement of making US$7m on its core earnings. Sounds a story from a celebrity magazine or from the North Korean media on its new leader.

Inflation: Why the misleading picture, minister & media?

In Economy, Media, Political governance on 13/08/2012 at 5:12 am

(Or “Think short-term, not long-term says minister Lee or “MTI minister does not know econs?” or “Govt’s spin machine is stuck in the stone age”)

The Retail Price Watch Group (RPWG) last week emphasised that the slower pace of food inflation impacted positively on household expenditure as food expenses take up a considerable portion of each household’s monthly budget. This slower pace of food inflation is good for S’poreans is the message that the constructive, nation-building media is spreading, not challenging. Example of how inflation is reported . At the end of this piece are two links on the numbers on inflation, and what they mean.

Earlier this year, when inflation was hitting new highs, in addition to the sick jokes by Tharman and Hng Kiang on “no worries” if “you don’t rent private housing, or want or need to buy a car”*, S’poreans were told to look forward, not back. Inflation would “moderate”. It hasn’t has it? The rate of growth has slowed a tinny winny bit, taz it.

Now the message seems to be look back, not forward. If you wonder why, read this, “Another food crisis looms”: grain and meat prices are rising fast (not rice though but note “Rising wheat prices and a failure of America’s soya harvest might scare nervy Asian countries into a rice-export ban just as during the food crisis of 2007-08.”).

And there is this: Global food prices sharply rebounded in July due to wild swings in weather conditions, a UN food and agricultural body has said.

The rise has fanned fresh fears of a repeat of the 2007-2008 food crisis which hurt the world’s poorest. BBC report

But when asked about the current drought in the United States Midwest which is affecting corn and soybean crops, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development and chairman of RPWG said it is not likely to have an impact here in the near term.

This is because Singapore imports a negligible amount corn, and only seven per cent of its soy beans from the US.

But a sustained price hike for the grains, which are used for animal feed, he said, may raise commodity prices in the long term.

So said minister is downplaying the effect of drought in the US on food prices. And our media is not questioning him. And they all are wrong to downplay the rise in retail prices.

There are floods in Brazil, the other large exporter of soya. So it isn’t juz the US. 

There is no getting around the fact that two of the staples of the world food industry are about to become scarce commodities.

That means they will also become more expensive. Soya beans and corn make oil, animal feed, and ethanol (to be added to petrol), and are used in snacks, fast food, even soft drinks. America’s drought is going hit us all.

FT gave a concrete example: Based on the numbers of a big US producer of chickens, Sandersons, a US$2 increase in corn, like the one that just took place, adds about US7 cents to the cost per pound of chicken meat. And as the margins are tiny, so prices of chicken have to rise unless there is a serious recession.]

Then there is the issue of time frame. The USDA expects further rises in prices, and it is predicting that global corn trade will be sharply lower this month “in response to tighter US supplies and higher prices” reports the BBC. So minister, if “this month” is “long term”, what is “short-term”? Ten minutes? 

But this downplaying of inflation and the misuse of the term “long term” is not all.

But a sustained price hike for the grains, which are used for animal feed, he said, may raise commodity prices in the long term.

So after always being tot to think long-term, and with the government always praising itself that it takes the long-term, strategic view, and taz why we should always vote for the PAP, we are now told to think short-term? 

Whatever happened to thinking and planning long-term? Retired juz like one LKY?

And why is the media not pointing out and commenting the change in govmin thinking? Are they waiting for approval?

Could minister and media been trying hard to avoid spoiling the national mood ahead of 9th August?

Or waz it all, “An honest mistake?” Or is this Lee trying to ape Tharman and Hng Kiang as a standup comic?

Or, as is most likely, could the government PR and corporate communications machine still be in the pre-internet age when real-time information was expensive and limited to traders in financial institutions? Then media releases, and ministerial statements and Q&As could be crafted days or weeks ahead of time, with each officer in the pyramid making changes until the final draft reached the minister. Now when communicating to any audience, ministers and their minions must be aware that real-time info is available at a touch of the screen.

(Links on inflation

Inflation has accelerated, fueled by rising housing and private transportation costs … The monetary authority last month estimated consumer-price gains will average 4 percent to 4.5 percent this year, compared with the 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent range it forecast previously.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-10/singapore-economy-contracts-as-pressure-gains-for-policy-easing.html

DBS says S’pore facing stagflation with one of highest inflation rates in region.

http://sbr.com.sg/economy/news/singapore-struggle-one-highest-inflation-rates-in-southeast-asia)

—————-

*OK, OK I exaggerate but only a little.

Kee Chui misreps our views on FT gladiators

In Media, Political governance on 09/08/2012 at 5:15 am

(Or “We don’t like cheating or cheaters”)

But first things first. It’s National Day and let’s celebrate it even if the PAPpies insist on trying to confuse us that the PAP is S’pore and S’pore is the PAP. Reclaim the Crescent and Stars. We can be proud to be S’poreans without subscribing to the Gospel of Harry.

Now back to Kee Chui and his misrepresentations

“Let’s not just look at where people come from. It’s not just where people come from that we should be concerned with, it’s also what they’ve done for the country,” said Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Chan Chun Sing, commenting on public criticisms at the “buying” of Olympic medals by the use of foreign-born sportsmen.

S’poreans who criticise the use of FT gladiators to win medals are doing so largely because they do not believe that national sporting glory should be bought by using “instant citizens”, the way the Parks Division plants “instant” trees.  

We would view things differently if our talent scouts brought in kids from overseas, and these kids are nurtured into champions here, and then later overseas. Our wimmin ping-pong team became S’poreans when they were already mother hens, not chicks. And it is rumoured that even their toilet cleaner had to be imported from China (OK, OK, I made that one up).

The critics of this FT gladiator policy are not uniquely S’porean.

A lady who writes regularly on British affairs and who is an advocate of a more liberal immigration policy, a controversial issue there too, writes: To come in late in the day with imported talent and claim they are British success stories isn’t about being open to migrants. It’s just cheating. Nobody watching will be fooled. If they get medals, we’ll feel a little embarrassed. Whether it’s swimming or anything else, let’s have a sporting culture strong enough for us to know, when we win, that it’s a real, homegrown achievement, not a fiddle. Otherwise, frankly, I’d rather we lost.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jan/28/Olympics2012.olympics2012

Taz my view, and I know the view of many of my fellow citizens. We have nothing against these FT gladiators who fight for S’pore, and I’m sure many of those who don’t think much of the FT gladiators policy, honour these women as Olympians. My only exception is that lady who attacked the German table tennis federation after she lost her match. https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/ft-she-gladiator-shames-us-msm-stta-shamefully-silent/

Want us to agree with the government on the use of FT gladiators? Switch  from the emphasis on national pride and glory to the monetary benefits of sponsoring these gladiators. Show us the cost benefit analysis https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/show-the-cost-benefit-analysis-of-sponsoring-ft-olympians/.

If the numbers stack up, I’m sure I and my others would have no problem with S’pore sponsoring them: bit like Nike sponsoring athletes.

Finally on an unrelated topic, did you know that a M’sian Chinese air condition repairman can be a PR? ST revealed this yesterday. Add him to slutty looking, violent cheating shop assistants, and hawkers who became PRs from PRC.

STOMPED! Yacoob’s CoC

In Media, Political governance on 11/07/2012 at 8:09 am

(Or “The difference between blogging and the traditional newspaper story”) 

Remember when Yaacob was  promoting his CoC (Code of Conduct) for the internet, he praised our mainstream constructive media and said they should be exemplars netizens should follow https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/two-examples-of-how-st-covers-fts/ .

We now know what he wants us netizens to do: fake news reports using paid content producers like STOMP. His sis is a very, very senior editor at ST, a sister publication of STOMP.

Well I doubt that in 2012, we will hear anymore about his CoC. But next year is another year, and the CoC is not a once in 50-years event.

I was reminded of the above CoC and STOMP’s paid content producers posing as “citizen journalists” when I read this: [T]he traditional newspaper story derives its force and directionality from the man-bites-dog newsiness of the flat content. It’s very difficult to include expert commentary that depletes or diffuses the newsiness, because it sucks the signifying force out of the piece. In contrast, blogging and tweeting are far more flexible and use many other discursive techniques to supply directionality and signifying force, most importantly personalistic tone. You can write a blog post about something utterly un-newsworthy, say the fact that Barack Obama is president of the United States, and make it signify through sheer emotive presence or stylistic technique. But you can’t write a newspaper story about that.

One great reason why netizens shouldn’t be forced to be like a newspaper, even one like the FT or NYT or the Economist, let alone a publication like ST when even the footie news is distorted for the government’s constructive, nation-building agenda of “FTs are betterest” policy. 

Read the whole blog posting because it gives great insights on how a newspaper, any newspaper from the NYT to ST and its peers in China and North Korea, operate http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2012/06/media-rules

Related http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18458567

ST misreps yet again

In Footie, Media on 24/06/2012 at 6:18 am

(Or “Four unexplained mystries in WofflesGate”) 

So Germany beat Greece, and are into the Euro semis, which reminded me that even footie facts are misrepresented by the nation-building, constructive ST to promote government’s FT is “betterest” policy (See below. To be fair, ST published the rebuttal. Balls-up or subversion? Or someone with a conscience?). Is nothing sacred? What next? Footie scores get misreported? More likely is that goals scored and saves made attributed to players that fit ST’s agenda of nation-building, constructivism.

I am exaggerating? Look at an ST report of WofflesGate: [in relation to the incident in September 2005,] . . . Wu got Mr Kuan, then 76, to tell police that he was the driver of a car speeding at 95kmh on Lornie Road. Mr Kuan is said to have lied again about a speeding offence committed at 9.45am on Nov 10, 2006. The car was then travelling at 91kmh on Adam Road.

The speed limit in both instances was 70kmh and involved Wu’s car. Court papers did not state who the actual driver was.

The court heard that a notice was sent to Wu to reveal the identity of the driver. Concerned that he would accumulate demerit points were he to accept liability for the speeding offences, he roped in Mr Kuan, then a maintenance technician in his clinic. Now 83 years old, Mr Kuan was also described as a close family friend of the doctor. He has not been charged.

The report makes it clear implicitly that Woolly Wally was the driver by stating that hr was concerned about getting demeit points.  Yet we now know that both the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Law minister said that investigations were ongoing, as to who the driver actually was; and that the case has not been concluded.

Funnily, ST has not retracted its story. Nor have the authorities asked for a retraction. These are four  mysteries that need to be explained to convince S’poreans that the rich are not different.

———

Read the u/m in ST Forum about two weeks ago.

Go for local football talent

CONTRARY to what the report (‘Talent mining in the sports world'; May 25) implies, Germany does not have an official programme recruiting foreign-born footballers.

Circumstances that led to Polish-born strikers Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski representing Germany differ completely from the mechanics of Singapore’s Foreign Sports Talent scheme.

Klose moved to Germany at age seven, while Podolski did so at two. Both are therefore home-grown German players.

The only non-native player recruited by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) who can be considered home-grown is Daniel Bennett, who came here as a toddler.

Many Singaporeans rightfully question the ‘Singaporean-ness’ of foreign sports talent, something that even Bennett himself is concerned about.

He was quoted two years ago in the Singapore Armed Forces Football Club official website as saying: ‘I am more Singaporean than many of the other foreign players who took (up) citizenship more recently, as I grew up here and it’s my home.’

Apparently concerned by the excessive use of imported players contravening the spirit of the game, football’s world governing body Fifa tried to introduce regulations in 2008 to restrict such usage.

Unfortunately, the FAS remains stubbornly persistent with its push to recruit more foreigners. It claims foreign sports talent plug the gaps in its youth development programme (‘Change of heart by NSAs'; May 28).

Our national football administrators should find answers to why, after almost two decades of S-League football where would-be Lions play with and against foreign players weekly, and years of employing foreign technical directors, the FAS is still struggling to develop quality international-level talent.

It is impossible to prove, but perhaps native and home-grown players strive harder for their country.

Michael Ang

SIA: What our MSM will never tell you

In Airlines, Humour, Media on 17/06/2012 at 7:11 am

The Air Transport Rating Agency (ATRA) has published its second annual list of the world’s ten safest airlines. The Geneva-based operation based its list on an assessment of 15 factors, using 2010 data.

 SIA has not made it into the top 10 again. This year, its greatest rival, Qantas, made it into the top 10.

ATRA’s ten safest airlines (in alphabetical order only): Air Canada, Air France-KLM, AMR Corporation, Delta Airlines, International Airlines Group, Lufthansa, Qantas, Southwest Airlines, United-Continental, US Airways.

But as the Economist’s travel blog points out:

Only one of the ten airlines in ATRA’s list (Qantas) makes it into the top ten of the most recent Skytrax world airline awards, which are derived from over 18m passenger responses and have a much more Middle Eastern/Asian tone. This either suggests that passengers do not consider safety when naming their favourite carriers, or they disagree with ATRA’s particular emphasis.

Anyway, I’m publicising this rating so that the likes of KennethJ, Chris balding, Dr Chee and his sis, Richard Wan and other TRE staffers and avid readers, TOC editorial staffers and Core Team, xmen and others of their kind, have a good excuse not to patronise SIA. They can fly Qantas instead. Actually, Dr Chee already has a good excuse already: he can’t leave S’pore without permission, and I don’t think permission has ever been given.

Facebook: Not in prospectus

In Financial competency, Media on 30/05/2012 at 5:30 am

With its share price falling, time to revisit its prospectus?

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/facebooks-missing-risk-factor/?nl=business&emc=edit_dlbkpm_20120517

Facebook’s enlightened self-interest approach to running its business is highly unusual in corporate America and may in fact prove impossible to sustain over the long term.

Two examples of how ST covers FTs

In Media on 16/05/2012 at 6:03 am

(Or “Why misbehaving FTs should be glad that they are still alive” or “Yaacob’s “Three steps” to Heaven”: Analysing Step 3″)

Is this what Yaacob wants the constructive, nation-building local media to teach bloggers: FTs are never ever in the wrong?

Sorry, some background first.

There are three steps that Yaacob wants taken to tame “cowboy towns”:

Step 1: “The Internet community creates a code of conduct for responsible online behaviour”

Step 2: “Citizens set up websites that offer constructive viewpoint” i.e. he said that the best way to go is to encourage other sites to emerge, “that can continue to offer constructive ideas and useful suggestions”.

Step 3: “Major media cos could help set the right tone online”

(I’ve covered Steps 1 and 2 here and here’s my analysis of step 3. Yes I promised it yonks ago, but my examples would have been historical. These examples are contemporary.) 

In the space of about a week, ST carried two sets of stories where FTs were portrayed as being in the right despite evidence to the contrary. (Note I’ll be linking to non-ST reports because ST is behind a pay wall.) 

First, even though M’sian TV showed (a M’sian friend told me)  a video of FTs from S’pore misbehaving, before being beaten up for their pains, not shown, ST never carried that version. It had earlier reported the following : report from M’sian Star copied bt TRE http://www.tremeritus.com/2012/05/12/sg-expats-claim-assault-by-bodyguards-of-royalty-off-johor-island/

Then there is the report on an accident where the PRC driver of a Ferrari, a taxi driver and a taxi passenger died. The ST story seemed to me to defend the Ferrari driver and flaunted his weath. I’m not the only one.

So this is what Yaacob wants from a Coc?

Apart from ST’s reporting which shows that the constructive, nation-building local media’s objectivity when covering FTs, the Johor incident shows that some ang moh FTs are so used to misbehaving here and getting away with it (remember the Suntec incident?) that they do the same when they visit M’sia. They think they can get way with annoying Johor royalty because they think ang moh tua kee. They shld be glad that they are still alive to tell us their tall stories.

Yaacob’s “Three steps” to Heaven”: Analysing Steps 1 & 2

In Internet, Media, Political governance on 26/04/2012 at 7:25 pm

(Or “Doc’s cure Part I: a purgative)

PAP’s Heaven that is. Hell to us netizens. OK, let’s not exaggerate, more like Purgatory.

Sorry, Back to the headline. There are three steps that Yaacob wants taken to tame “cowboy towns”:

Step 1: “The Internet community creates a code of conduct for responsible online behaviour”

Step 2: “Citizens set up websites that offer constructive viewpoint” i.e. he said that the best way to go is to encourage other sites to emerge, “that can continue to offer constructive ideas and useful suggestions”.

Step 3: “Major media cos could help set the right tone online”

Step 1 has been well covered by netizens since he articulated it many moons ago. All I will add to the noise is this analysis

— If the government tries to regulate us bloggers, it’ll do more harm than good, for the government itself, the PAP and for S’pore. The government and PAP are no good in designing social systems: even the CCP in China acknowledges it cannot be the only social architect, it is only one of the players, albeit the one that can throw other players into jail.  The PAP government has a further problem given government’s desire for a knowledge-based economy, but with knowledge and the economy increasingly dependent on access and the use of the internet, it can no longer control the information S’poreans get. The internet and, in particular, social media have created a level of transparency never ever seen before in S’pore. Even taking into account the lack of publicly available government data, people can still research complicated issues with a few clicks of a mouse. The PAP government can no longer control the agenda or the framework within which discussions take place.

Even manufacturing is becoming social: read the Economist, the magazine where the government got its ideas for COEs, and CBD charges, among other “screw the poor” ideas.

— In the context of the other two steps, it is totally irrelevant. It has nothing to do with getting citizens to set up websites “that offer constructive viewpoints” or” with the local media helping readers to “separate the wheat from the chaff”.

— And even after asserting that the internet should grow as a platform for “serious discussion”, Dr Yaacob said a site cannot be stopped “just because we disagree with it”. There’s “nothing wrong” with “more sites available that offer alternative views, but as long as they are constructive … based on proper analysis”.

On Step 2, “Citizens set up websites that offer constructive viewpoint”, my first tot was, “Err whatever happened to FTs, that ministers so treasure? They don’t do “constructive” websites? Or are they banned from doing “constructive websites” but allowed to do “unconstructive” websites (citizens are discouraged from doing these sites)? Or are FTs banned totally from setting up websites on S’pore? Or all websites?”. If the last “wah lan” what kind of FTs do we want? Only goodie-two shoes (as defined by the PAP) like “No NS for me” from Msian-born Puthu or “Food is gd is M’sia” from Msian-born Ms Foo”. Incidentally, both became PAP MPs.

And he is talking rubbish, “If there are no good online sites or platforms that offer good views, people will naturally gravitate toward those that are popular and available.” Well people will always gravitate to sites that support their point of view. Ask the watchers of Fox TV in the US. And to “yellow culture” websites that promote decadent lifestyles.

But my biggest grouse with him on Step 2, is that what are “good” and “constructive” websites with “proper analysis” to  enable “serious discussion” and “useful ideas”, are defined by the PAP government. It’s the usual “setting the agenda”, framing the issue game that the government is always playing.

And it’s clear that by saying the local media can help readers to “separate the wheat from the chaff … our major companies, which have an established presence, can set the right tone online as well, with good practices of information sharing and moderation on the various online platforms”, his definitions of “good”, “constructive”, “proper analysis”, “useful ideas” and  “serious discussion” are the same definitions used by the PAP government to describe its ideal mainstream media, and the local media when it describes itself. He only left out “nation-building”*.

As this post is getting too long, I leave for next week examples of what I speculate are the practices he wants our “citizen”, “constructive” websites to learn from the local media: publishing misleading photos or rewriting letters-to-the-editor  to misrepresent the views of the writers?

For now, I’ll leave you with some light relief, “[T]o disagree with the Government is not a crime, but let’s put it on a rational objective footing. The Government has never shied away from that and that is something we look forward to, so that the Internet community can add to the discourse.” Wonder if the late JBK, Dr Chee or TOC would agree?

——-

* Actually he didn’t The Jakarta Post reported that he “noted that Singapore’s media model is one based on forging consensus and facilitating nation-building, in which social cohesion is preserved while empowering people to make informed decisions as a society.”

The cultural ignorance of SPH staff and other S’poreans

In Media on 15/02/2012 at 5:44 am

(Or “Another Example of Ang Moh Tua Kee?” Or “Aping the Prejudices of the West Mindlessly”)

SPH’s Jennani Durai ranted in SunTimes (FB link to story) about some UOB staff who painted their faces black for a Bollywood theme party. The FB link attracted over 300 comments, mostly negative.

 This blogger tells us:

I believe these breed of netizens do not watch televisions movies & dramas or SBC productions. Probably these are the netizens who feel local productions are crap and thus watching TV will minus their IQ points by half. I urged these netizens who slammed the offensive act to take further actions against Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow, Taiwanese Television Channels, local cinemas and Mediacorp

Over the past 2 decades,  there were several TV & Movie productions which depicts Chinese painting their faces black.

(I will cheerfully admit that I didn’t know most of this: I knew of the Justice Pao black-face tradition which my amah told me indicated that he was non-Chinese*. But then I am Perankan, watch very little TV, and most importantly, I didn’t find the actions offensive*, and neither did I post critical comments.) 

It is sad that it seems neither Jennani Durai nor the editors responsible checked with their colleagues in the Chinese media papers of SPH on a Chinese cultural perspective . Instead, they imposed an American  perspective on the story: that it was culturally insensitive in the US to do such a dark deed, and hence it was culturally insensitive to do so here.

It is also sad that many netizens made critical comments based on the SunT story alone. I mean it’s part of the SPH media group, that many netizens love to hate. But if it confirms their prejudices or beliefs, it is halal, not haram, it seems.

Finally it is extremely sad that it seems the critical posters who were Chinese did not know of a facet of popular and traditional Chinese culture.

Another example of the culture of ang mog tua kee here? It’s not only found in the Home Team.

A final wicked tot. Would Jennani Durai and others have been so upset if the Chinks had painted themselves “wheat-coloured”? I can’t think of a single Bollywood star that has anything other than “light” skin. And Indian newspaper ads for suitable marriage partners have no qualms of requiring the other party to have “light” or “wheat-coloured” skin. I suspect, Jennani Durai  and the other critics would have applauded the Cina for their cultural sensitivity, even though the preference for “light” skin shows that Indian culture has colour undertones, juz like other cultures.

Related post:

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/heads-must-roll-in-the-home-team/

*Her spin was that the Chinese respect anyone, even a non-Chinese, if that person has “virtue”. Her way of telling me that it’s OK not being Chinese. She also told me that the founder of Zen Buddhism and the martial arts tradition was an Indian monk.

**I posted a comment saying UOB and the staff concerned had no need to apologise.

“Well-off bear biggest brunt of the price increases”

In Economy, Financial competency, Media on 26/01/2012 at 6:13 am

Taz part of a headline in today’s ST.

In the text of the story, it said “the top 20 per cent … were hit by … rate of 5.7 per cent — much higher than the 4.7 per cent for the bottom 20 per cent”.

(ST’s Breaking News reported, “The lowest 20 per cent income group experienced a lower increase in consumer prices at 4.7 per cent, compared to the middle 60 per cent and highest 20 per cent income groups, which experienced CPI inflation of 5.1 per cent and 5.7 per cent respectively.”)

The editors and the two reporters Aaron Low (Econs correspondent) and Melissa Tan obviously don’t know their maths.

Say a poor S’porean is earning $12,000 a year: a 4.7%  inflation rate means he had $564 less to spend in the year on other things. For a rich S’porean earning $600,000, he has $34,200 less to spend.

Whose standard of living or savings rate is affected more? Obviously the poor S’porean, yet ST blithely writes, “Well-off bear biggest brunt of the price increases”.

What can I say?

TOC’s Fifth Anniversary

In Media, Political governance on 16/01/2012 at 5:24 am

Many years ago, someone who called a party said publicly during the party, “Everyone here is eating and drinking at my expense, but half of you can’t wait to make nasty comments abt me and the party.”

I attended TOC’s do last Friday, and ate more than my fair share. The programme was enjoyable, certainly funnier than if the president had been able to attend. I’m sure that there would be some self-censorship, out of courtesy. One does not offend the guest-of-honour.

So, I hope the Core Team and TOC supporters don’t think that I’m like one of the ungrateful guests at my friend’s party all that many years ago about what I’m going to say.

In 2005, Today newspaper had its fifth anniversary bash. Triumpalism was the in the air, with a slick video boasting of how Today had overcome a dirty tricks campaign by an unnamed media empire.  I don’t blame the staff for doing what they did. It was a natural reaction to what they had done: survive and build a loyal readership, despite everything the SPH group could throw at them.

But one Goh Chok Tong in his speech said,  “Today newspaper is only five years old. Compared to The Straits Times, it is still a growing child. The fifth birthday is not really a major milestone whether for a child or a commercial organisation”.

Many guests, self included, tot this was a most ungracious comment even for a “foot-in-mouther” like him. He was after all the guest-of-honour. And just as a host should not offend the guest-of-honour, a well-brought up guest should not offend his host.

The remarks turned out to a harbinger of the castration of the newspaper’s editorial team. A few months later, Today began its long, slow, painful slide into ST Super Lite, losing, by our admittedly low standards, its edginess.

 So let’s not be too triumpalist, or too optimistic for TOC, as many were on Friday especially Catherine Lim who gave a great acceptance performance* for TOC’s inaugral Lifetime Achievement Award.  Keep Nemesis away. Remember the Gods don’t like Hubris. TOC had two “lucky” escapes or near brushes with death last December when  “A significant part of what has been attributed to Mr Seng [by TOC] is false, to be quite blunt about it,” had been proven true by the time the remark was made. No-one from SMRT was willing to admit that anyone from SMRT made the racist comment that MP Han attributed to “SMRT PR person”. http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20111225-318099.html

I’m sure you know what one “lucky” escape is (It got the facts right). But the other is less obvious. Suppose if TOC had done what Cherian George and the Law minister wanted it to do and what ST would have done (remember Cherian has very, very close connections to ST): print the headline,”MP says SMRT PR person says …”.

TOC would have been soundly beaten up by Cherian, the minister and many others for not checking whether Han had quoted SMRT correctly. Suppose also that sensitive Malays or trouble seeking Indians, or both, had rioted, destroying SMRT property and injuring staff and police: TOC would not have had a birthday do.

The Core Team would be in jail (courtesy of ISA) while the Public Prosecutor decided which law to use to ensure that the judges could throw them in jail, and throw away the key.

So TOC and supporters: be humble, watchful and careful. Better to be alive and productive than to die and be remembered like a legend. Lions like Dr Chee and JBJ live too dangerously for “lesser mortals” like self. Be like Chiam**: Do the right thing in a low-key but determined way. The water buffalo can be just as dangerous to its enemies as the lion.  

Mrs Chiam got it right when she said, “TOC’s now the mainstream, because Singaporeans say so”. So, no more hand wringing Ravi Philemon about not being accepted by the PAP, government and their friends as part of the media*. Vox Populi, the people have spoken.

—-

*I’ll rant abt the substance of her performance after the CNY hols.

**Taz not to say I agree with everything he does. Brickbats after the CNY hols.

***Unless TOC’s Core Team want to be part of the mega-bucks establishment or have the dubious honour of the likes of ministers and MPs like Zaqy acknowledge officially that they “engage” with TOC, or have the honour of the president attending a TOC do, or any combination of the three. Me? Prostitution sounds a more honourable way to earn serious money. And I’m anti-social. Threes a crowd.

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.

“F” word banned by PUB?

In Economy, Infrastructure, Media, Political governance, Tourism, Wit on 27/12/2011 at 6:03 am

Trust a former President’s Scholar to come up with the solution to prevent floods in Singapore. VivianB got PUB to rename “flooding” as “ponding”. Why didn’t Yaacob do this instead of calling a flood a 50-yr event. Well there were two 50-year events in less than two months last year.

Seriously, I don’t think it was VivianB’s idea. Likely to be the new CEO of PUB that is behind the renaming. He after all blames us for the floods, saying S’poreans took things for granted*. I say to him, “Don’t try to deflect blame like SMRT’s CEO who told us to guard the trains when there was a security break-in. PUB did not do it’s job.

Ain’t this renaming juz daft and misleading? PUB said of the heavy rain last Friday “there was no flooding at Orchard Road … However, water ponded at the open area of Liat Towers, the underpass between Lucky Plaza and Ngee Ann City, and the basement of Lucky Plaza due to the sustained heavy downpour”.

Sorry PUB, these places were flooded. The ponds were at least ankle deep, at Starbucks, customers walked on chairs to get out, and shops had to close**.

I’m glad that MediaCorp didn’t buy into this euphemism. They called these “flash floods”, as they used to. As to ST, they tried to be truthful, while keeping VivianB and PUB onside. No wonder SPH is such a good dividend payer, while unlisted MediaCorp continues to struggle financially.

If VivianB and PUB were doing their very best to ensure that tourists are not scared off (Remember that the retail trade is tourist dependent to keep profitable and that the overall economy is heading for a slowdown, if not a recession), they failed as far as Malaysia is concerned.  Bernama reported:

Flash Floods In Several Parts Of Singapore Including Orchard Road

Flash floods hits several areas of Singapore including the republic’s most famous shopping alley, Orchard Road, following prolonged heavy rain in the southern and central parts of the city state Friday …

Nice try guys. But better for the economy, retailers and S’pore’s image if the PUB improved its “ponding” prevention measures, not try to play word games.

—-

*”But maybe we have also become victims of own success. Because we have been so successful, alleviating floods, that we have not seen a flood situation for a long time. So when it came, it did catch Singaporeans by surprise.”  Channel News Asia

**How Today reported the situation

The underpass between Lucky Plaza and Ngee Ann City remained closed yesterday evening. Some shop owners at the ground floor of Lucky Plaza said that water levels were ankle-high, but the situation this time was better than during previous floods.

At retail store Giordano, store in-charge Lyn Molino estimated losses of up to S$7,000 and said that customers were not only deterred by the wet floors but also by the stench from yesterday’s floodwaters. “This is supposed to be a good opportunity for us to have extra earnings but it has all been affected,” she said.

The floodwaters also washed out business at Starbucks and fast-food restaurant Wendy’s, among other establishments, at Liat Towers. Wendy’s manager (marketing and branding) Seng Woon Fa estimated losses of about 60 per cent of the day’s earnings. “We are now just busy cleaning up and hope to resume business as soon as possible … we are still checking if any equipment is spoiled,” he said.

The indirect power of new media in shaping debate

In Media, Political governance on 16/12/2011 at 5:22 am

(Or “Why I am complacent about having a code of conduct for the Internet)

So a blogger is upset because an NTU academic who studies the new media agrees with the government that a code of conduct for netizens is useful.

Many moons ago, bloggers were unhappy with the Institute of Policy Studies’ (IPS) study, Impact of new media on general election 2011, which concluded that the new media wasn’t that important in the election.They tried to explain why the new media was more important than what the IPS people tot it was.

I tot the study and most of the bloggers’ comments were missing the point.  I tot the new media played an important role in the GE for two reasons:

— It made public, information that in the past was confined, in the absence of MSM reporting, to smallish groups. To me the classic example was the 1988 GE in Eunos GRC. Most S’poreans (self included) did not know JBJ and friends had so such support there until after the results were announced. Contrast that with the 2011 GE when S’poreans knew via new media that Aljunied, East Coast and Joo Chiat were places where the PAP could lose. Of course, the new media could also give wrong info: like the SDP could win in Holland Village GRC. I mean the SDP did so-so only. Were we conned.

— Via making info public and via direct feedback from unhappy readers, the new media forced the local MSM to be a little less biased in its election coverage. There was a little less government propoganda masquerading as objective news and analysis. (BTW, I was one of the persons helping out on the survey that tried to quantify the perceived extent of how skewed was the reporting of the local newspapers. Believe you me, it was depressing measuring the large gap in coverage.)

No code of conduct can restrict the power of new media to do the above in any situation unless the code of conduct was drafted by the North Korean or Chinese government or one Tan Kin Lian**, hence my complacency.

On the point of feedback to traditional media, I recently came across a posting made several moons ago on an Economist blog, part of which I reproduce to explain how the new media influences the traditional media:

As an employee of the mainstream media, I would say that in my experience loud and convinced feedback from a large segment of the public will usually influence the treatment afforded to their subjects of concern. He goes on Indeed, this is precisely what has just happened to Mr Keller, as one can see from the difference in tone between his Monday column and his Tuesday blog post. Browbeating the mainstream media for favourable coverage, in short, is an important part of any protest movement, and while Mr Keller is right that formulating demands for things the political system can deliver is a crucial step towards effectiveness, he should also recognise that the drubbing he’s just received is also a step towards effectiveness. Piece

 So keep on shouting and bullying. It works! Read the rest of this entry »

Taxi fare rises: Notice the attempt at emotional blackmail?

In Media on 13/12/2011 at 5:50 am

No-one believes Delgro’s and the National Taxi Association’s claims that the taxi fare increases are meant to help taxi drivers.  Stockbrokers are already factoring into their forecasts, the assumption that sometime soon, Delgro will increase the rentals it charges taxi drivers.

So it wasn’t that surprising that yesterday, the constructive, nation-building ST carried a big headlined article on the front of its “Home” section on how “peanutty” were the earnings of the average taxi driver.  Of course, it wasn’t written that way. The headline and story were about how an enterprising taxi driver can take home S$3,000 a month. The sub- text was, however, two-fold:

— S$3,000 wasn’t that much, taking into account the long hours, worked; and

— most tax- drivers took home S$1,500. “Peanuts” by any reasonable standard. But then how come taxi drivers “cheery pick” their customers? They can’t be that poorly paid? Read this on how they “cheery pick” customers by gaming the system.

The message at this time of the year, when charities round the world, resort to emotional blackmail to part consumers from their cash, is, “Spare the taxi drivers some money, don’t complain”.

This is a variant of the government’s much vaunted tripartitism at work. Usually the parties are the government, the employers and the NTUC. Here the parties are Delgro, SPH and the taxi drivers out to con the public.

No wonder SPH, and Delgro are good dividend-paying stocks.

Update on 12 December 2011 at 9.55am

Notice how the ST and other local media are playing down the drop in the number of people taking taxis? The cabbies they are quoting are talking rubbish. They notice the drop, blame it on the fare rises, but then say its the school hols. Sigh.

Why I miss TR

In Media on 11/12/2011 at 10:15 am

(Or “Why I would as a Christmas present the return of TR”)

The headline “Former table tennis president and manager charged with corruption” reminded me of TR because of  the Wayang Party’s (TR’s original name)  campaign against his successor, MP Lee Bee Wah.

And that reminded me of the promise by “reliable sources” that TR will return by mid-November. It’s almost mid-December. Still waiting leh.

But then remember the footie authorities have broken their promises again and again. And it seems that the Sembawang Soccer Academy has yet to pay an outstanding bill to an overseas footie academy (making Fandi Ahmad look silly), despite repeated claims it has the funds.

So let’s not be too upset with the boys and gals at TR for being S’porean i.e. rubbery with their time-line. They are true blue S’poreans. They are also  unpaid volunteers doing a dirty, despised but essential job: spreading rumours and gossip without any regard of the truth**. And providing some gd analysis. I miss “Grey Hippo” and another writer (can’t remember his name but he rubbished a NTU professor and got under his goat).

I was thinking of TR a few weeks ago when I read a stream of hot air from the local media and bloggers on the social worker that rejected an award. Just before the news broke, I had heard about the rejection, and the rumours surrounding it. The bloggers commenting on the issue (example here) must have heard of the rumours but must have decided not to report them**.

Because they did not repeat the rumours, the story did not gain traction. It was forgotten almost as soon as it surfaced, which is a shame if one is into these kind of things (I’m not).

But if TR had been around, I’m sure the rumours would be published as facts, giving some context to the bloggers’ tots on the matter.

So I’m still hoping for a return of TR. The inhabitants of the Wild, Wild Internet need the Comancheros*** to return especially to name and shame FT loving managers and employers https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/three-cheers-for-tr/.

But I won’t miss the demise of the Satay Club which went AWOL or MIA in early September. Bit too pretentious for my taste. As it had shume kind of affiliation with TR, did the closure of TR affect it? Maybe the people behind TR were behind the Satay Club? I raise this possibility because the founder of the Satay Club claimed to have a PPE degree from Cambridge. Cambridge does not award a PPE degree, only Oxford does. A TR joke?

Oh and I won’t miss Tan Kin Lian’s SGEP portal which has also entered the land of the living dead. Since October, updates had been getting rarer and rarer. And there have been no updates since 16 November. Another one of TKL’s failures?  Like his petition to himself to stand for president (which only got 1,200 signatures despite his call for 100,000 signatures), his presidential election campaign, and his forfeited deposit.

Update: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/in-praise-of-tr-emeritus/

————————————————-

*Almost like the night-soil men who serviced the house I lived in when I was young. Great place with an indoor court-yard. But there were no flush toilets. So people were paid to cart away something mucky. But these guys were paid.

**Let me be clear, I’m not condemning them for not spreading the rumours. There are very good, sound, ethical reasons for not doing so: like not being able to make a judgement on the credibility of the rumours, or the impact of smearing someone unfairly if it is untrue.

***In Westerns, the Comancheros were the “bad” white guys who sold modern rifles to the Comanches (“Lords of the South Plains”) and other “lesser” Red Indians resisting the white settlers’ and US cavalry’s attempts to “civilise them”. More like genocide than civilising, if you ask me.

Us Netizens: Comancherios of the Internet?

In Internet, Media, Political governance on 06/12/2011 at 8:11 pm

(Note: In Westerns, the Comancherios were the bad guys who sell guns and whisky to the Comanches, “Lords of the South Plains” and other “lesser” Indians of the North American Southern Great Plains*.)

Last Thurday, I analysed how the NSP could be perceived given that three active actors in the “Jason Neo” and “Donaldson” cases were NSP supporters.

Here the focus is on counterfactuals. What if Neo had been an opposition party “volunteer” while Firdaus, the chap who exposed him, was a Young PaPpie or “volunteer”; Abdul Salim a PAP member; and Amran Junid (the person who complained about Donaldson) a PAP supporter?

Would:

 – netizens have focused not on Jason Neo and Donaldson, but on the complainants and their perceived motives; and

 – the local MSM be so laid-back in reporting the“Jason Neo” and “Donaldson” incidents?

Why were netizens so “easy” on Firdaus who spread the photo? The misdeed had been pointed in March 2011 by Neo’s Facebook’s “friends”. He explained that it was not meant to be taken seriously, and apologised. But he did not remove the post which he should have done. As none of them thought to advise, suggest or demand that he remove the post, I suspect, he tot he had done enough to “purge” himself, not that this excuses him.

But no-one it seems has “condemned” Firdaus for spreading the story even after Neo had apologised and taken the photo down

 Nor has anyone except http://piaroh.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/bababa/ and me (in a round about way) questioned his motives. Was he (and others) trying to “fix” the YPAP, the PAP and the government, by associating them with Neo and his caption? A complainant, Abdul Salim, was a NSP member according to TOC; and Firdaus, remember, was a “volunteer” at NSP according to Yahoo!.

 But what if Firdaus was a known YPAP member and Jason Neo was known as a NSP “volunteer”. Would the story have attracted so much interest on the Internet?

I’m sure that many netizens would have dismissed his actions as a Young PAP plot to discredit the NSP, the other opposition parties, the new media and us netizens, especially since a PAP member, Abdul Salim, made a complaint to the police . They would defend Neo, pointing out that he had apologised twice, the first time in March 2011 when his Facebook friends “scolded” him, and had taken down the photo after Firdaus complained to him. But still Firdaus “poured kerosene over the fire” by spreading the photo over the Internet. If anyone should be charged for sedition, it should be Firdaus the Young PaPpie, not Neo the NSP “volunteer”, I’m sure, netizens would say in this parallel world.

(As it is, someone posted on TOC, “This saga is pre-planned by PAP so they can used this excuse to formalise new laws to control the cyberspace to restrict ppl’s freedom of speech.”)

Can we therefore be surprised that the government and PAP view the Internet as Comanche territory (many of the real cowboy towns were in Comanche territory or Comancheria) and netizens as Comancheros?

But the government and PAP should realise there is a reason (or is it an excuse?) why we netizens tend to be so sceptical or cynical of them.

Would the local MSM’s coverage of this incident and that of the Donaldson case have been so low-key as to be almost non-existent, if Firdaus had been a Young PaPpie, and Neo the NSP “volunteer”? I think most readers would agree with me we would then have had story after story covering every angle. Especially since Abdul Salim was a PAP member, and Amran Junid was a PAP supporter (Remember we are in a parallel world) who exposed Donaldson.

We netizens would be guillty of sedition, irresponsibility, racism maybe even sodomy and pimping: by association.

The local MSM editorials and commentaries would be calling for more than a code of conduct. They would call for cyber laws to punish the likes of Neo and Donaldson.

 Can the government, PAP and the local, constructive, nation- building media be surprised that more and more S’poreans are turning to new media for their news and analysis of local current affairs?

 And can they blame bloggers and other Commancheros for trying to put some balance on the news and analysis S’poreans get, by putting more emphasis on what the Opposition and other ignored (by the government, PAP and local MSM) voices say. Why not give more space (plenty more) in the local MSM to “other” voices and see if more friendly injuns appear in Comancheria? (Remember the US cavalry relied on non hostile Indian scouts to track and locate the Comanches and other hostile Indians.) If no non hostile Injuns appear,, the PAP and government can revert to the status quo.

———-

*The truth is more complex. The word “Comancheros” was the name gven to people in New Mexico who traded with the Comanches, the dominant tribe (think PAP and you get an idea of how dominant the Comanches were) of the Southern Great Plains of North America. They traded guns, ammunition, tools, cloth, flour, tobacco, and bread for hides, livestock and slaves from the Comanches. As the Comancheros may not have had sufficient access to modern rifles and ammunition, there is scholarly disagreement about how much they traded these to the Comanches. They were funded in part by US army officers based in New Mexico.

Higher standards expected from BTimes and a Temask-linked group?

In Corporate governance, Media, Temasek on 24/11/2011 at 5:49 am

Recently, K-Reit Asia succeeded in getting unitholder approval for its plan to buy 87.5%  of Ocean Financial Centre (OFC), a prime Grade A Raffles Place office building, and raise some S$976 million through a rights issue (17 for 20) to fund part of the cost. It needs S$1.57 billion to buy from parent company Keppel Land a 99- year lease of the OFC office building. KepLand will see a net gain of about S$492.7 million from the sale. Meanwhile despite the massive rights issue, K-Reit will have leverage of around 42% by end of 2011, more than the Reit sector average of 36%. This at a time of a looming slow down.

Some unitholders questioned

— the price and timing of the deal what with a recession looming;

— that while the building in Raffles Place has a tenure of 999 years with 850 years remaining on the lease, but KepLand is only selling a 99-year lease;

— why K-Reit is paying its manager (which is owned by KepLand) an acquisition fee, though it is buying the asset from its parent company;

— the independence of the manager.

But dissenting unitholders have to accept much of the blame in allowing K-Reit an easy ride at the EGM when resolutions were passed with a show of hands. The chairman of K-Reit rejected a call to call for a poll at the EGM presumably because there was no five-member call for a poll or a request by unitholders controlling 10% voting rights. 

If dissenting unitholders are not prepared to stand up and be counted, they deserve to be bullied.

Business Times decided to raise a stinker, “This isn’t the first time – and probably it won’t be the last – that issues like these arise at a Reit. For some time now there has been growing disquiet among corporate watchers about weaknesses in the corporate governance structures in Singapore Reits where the Reit sponsor wholly owns the Reit manager, and also holds a large stake in the Reit.” Well BT should remember that there is a bear market, and issues abt corporate governance always rise when investors lose money.

“[C]ases of sponsors selling properties to Reits have raised concerns about conflict of interest, and unitholders have often questioned the purchase of these assets and how they were priced”. BT does not point out that

— it is public knowledge that here the Reit sponsor wholly owns the Reit manager, and also holds a large stake in the Reit; and

 — in the K-Reit deal and other deals involving possible conflict of interests, the selling unitholder has by law to abstain from voting; and

— there have to be independent valuations.  

“There is also the need to have more transparent structures to pay Reit managers and to tie these more closely to performance”, according to BT. It’s not as though these are hidden from investors or made retrospective. They are publicly available info.

Sorry BT. A piece of rubbish.  

Having said all this, a Temasek-linked group like Keppel should set an example for others to follow. At the very least, K-Reit should have allowed a poll on the resolutions, rather than a show of hands. After all, the law is likely to be changed to make polls mandatory at general meetings. “Justice must not only be done, but seen to be done” and “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion”.

And K-Reit chairman Tsui Kai Chong’s comment that “Our father organisation, Keppel Land, is only willing to sell it to us for 99 years”, tells me that, at the very least, he has an “attitude” problem: deferring to his KepLand where  he is an independent director.

Qantas dispute: What PM and our local MSM are not telling us

In Airlines, Media on 15/11/2011 at 6:30 am

Yesterday, a piece in MediaCorp’s freesheet by an NTU academic reminded me of the narrative that the PM and our “constructive”, “nation-building” local media are trying to tell us about the Qantas dispute, strikes, lock-out and all.  It is about a struggling airline trying to cut costs to compete but its unionised workers are prepared to bankrupt it if their demands are not met.

 There is truth to this narrative. What the unions fear most is a plan announced in August that would cut 1,000 jobs and some long-haul routes while setting up a new premium airline based somewhere in Asia and forming a joint venture to operate a low-cost carrier in Japan. The unions want guarantees of job security. Qantas says that these and other demands risk destroying its commercial viability.

What you won’t hear, from the PM or the local media or the NTU academic, is that it could be possible that Qantas could be more generous to the workers, and still remain competitive. 

If the dispute goes to arbitration (what Qantas wants and which is now likely to happen), the eventual ruling may not be in Qantas’s favour overall, Australian analysts are saying. Since its domestic routes are highly profitable, the arbitrator may decide it can afford to be more generous to workers than it claims.

“Trust No One” especially our local reporters and editors, and local academics writing in the local media. But let’s be fair to our local media. Writing before World War II, George Orwell observed, “Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper”. He was referring to the British press.

And “The Truth Is Out There”.

Even the birds and suicides flock to WP constituencies

In Media, Wit on 06/11/2011 at 3:36 pm

Yes I’m being insensitive but couldn’t help thinking the above when I read in today’s SunTimes that birds are flocking to Hougang creating problems for the residents, while another body was found in Bedok Reservoir, the sixth since the May GE, when the area voted for WP.

Wah, WP that popular leh? Even the birds and suicides support them?

Think again. The PAP  via the local MSM may want you to think that

— Hougang is fast becoming a slum (waste food and other rubbish are not being collected, attracting the birds) since Yaw became MP  because there are only a few competent people in the WP to manage a constituency and Yaw’s not one of them; and

— voters in Kaki Bukit are repenting of voting WP (as per LKY’s prediction earlier this year) by killing themselves.

Three cheers for TR

In Media, Wit on 04/11/2011 at 6:44 am

Discriminatory practices have no place in S’pore: Tan Chuan-Jin.

When I first read this local MSM headline, I raised my tea-cup to toast Dr Joseph Ong and the other unnamed and unsung boys and gals of the Wayang Party, Temasek Review or Temasek Review Emeritus or whatever they decide to call themselves, next. 

Whatever their faults (and they are many), they were very aggressive in publicising the names and contact numbers of companies (local and MNCs), managers and employment agents discriminating against true blue S’poreans. I’m sure that the postings (and readers’ comments) helped “rational discourse”, and “reasoned and constructive debate” on this topic, forcing the government to admit that the problem exists, and is extensive. Mr. Tan said that employers’ mindsets must be changed to tackle the problem, implying that the problem exists, and is extensive. And, in the words of MediaCorp, that  Singaporeans remain at the core of the workforce is the objective of a revised set of guidelines by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices.

TRE is said to be planning a comeback by mid-November at the latest) and that the core team will identify themselves publicly (trying to copy TOC is it?).

Looking forward to the return of TRE: lies, misrepresentations, rants, astroturfing, and the occasional good analysis (think Grey Hippo) and accurate sliming.

Amy Khor’s favourite website and internet regime?

In Media, Political governance on 01/11/2011 at 2:07 pm

“Online engagement will increasingly become more important with the growing number of digital citizens. It is simply impossible to engage on all sites. The government could engage on sites which allow for reasoned and constructive debate and gain traction. Netizens themselves who desire rational discourse should support such sites or else start them. They should not be afraid of being labelled ‘pro government,'” so said Amy Khor of REACH, the government’s feedback unit, and a junior minister,  in parliament recently.

Funny, she didn’t mention http://www.facebook.com/FabricationsAboutThePAP#!/FabricationsAboutThePAP?sk=wall

But then looking at what is posted there by the founder and friends, there isn’t the need the need for the government to engage this site. All they do is put up stuff from government websites. Bit like the SPH and MediaCorp publications, channels, stations and websites who take stuff from government media releases. But at least the local MSM edits the stuff they get, adds some context and commentary, and pretends to do shume analysis. This site gives the government stuff raw.

So why engage the site? It agrees 100% with the government, in the government’s own words. Add no value leh.

Maybe the government should engage the site by funding it so that the people running it can get more active (“passionate”) in engaging their follow S’poreans in “rational discourse”, and “reasoned and constructive debate”? They should be originating original material, things that this site (hopefully), TOC, Yawning Bread, Singapore Notes, Diary of A Singaporean Mind etc etc regularly do. Or at least editing or putting into context what the government says.

Maybe like our ministers (I’m talking here about the public perception), they need serious money to motivate them to try harder? The founder should have the time. According to an ST report,he  is a young unemployed S’porean who claims he is not fronting for the PAP. I believe him because the PAP would never use an unemployed person for anything (“Can’t get a job, what kind of person is this?”)

Maybe this will happen here?  Remember the addenda to the President’s Address from the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts?

China is intensifying restrictions on internet use after official reports revealed that three people have been “punished for spreading false rumours” online.

Authorities say they are carrying out inquiries into other suspected cases.

The news comes just over a week after Communist Party leaders agreed a list of “cultural development guidelines”.

They include increased controls over social media and penalties for those spreading “harmful information”.

The Xinhua news agency quotes regulators as saying that efforts will be stepped up “to stop rumours and punish individuals and websites spreading rumours”.

Finally, came across this definition of “objectivity”. “Objectivity”, Richard Taflinger of Washington State University has termed as “the detached and unprejudiced gathering and dissemination of news”.

Criticking Amy Khor & Baey Yam Keng

In Media, Political governance on 23/10/2011 at 6:06 am
Amy Khor, chairman of REACH, asked the government to engage netizens on sites that “allow for reasoned and constructive debate and gain traction”. “Netizens themselves who desire rational discourse should support such sites or else start them.”  And she was concerned on the Internet becoming a “conduit for undesirable behaviour”.
 
But no where does she define “undesirable influences” or “reasoned and constructive debate”. Knowing what the PAP means by  “democracy”, “meitocracy”, “listening”  and “No one gets left behind”, I can make reasonable guess as to her definitions. She wants the new media to be like the publications, websites and channels of SPH and MediaCorp.

I was also planning to comment on Baey Yam Keng’s speech on how the government should handle the new media.  Fortunately, I came across a comment by “Jonathan” on TOC. Other than the PS, it covers all the points I was planning to make.

———————

On the whole, he presents himself to be a reformer. He wants to loosen the grip on traditional and new media alike. He mentioned repeatedly that it is not necessary and not possible to engage every statement made online.

However, his intention is at best half-baked for the part on traditional media. He wants to make mainstream media to be the benchmark of the online discussions. This amounts to saying that mainstream media will still be the mouthpiece of the Government (or the ruling party). I believe there he has contradicted himself and this shows that he may lack the conviction in media reform after all.

The part about teaching students “online media literacy” is alright in itself, but such proposal is always met with skepticism. People are afraid that it will be a form of covet propaganda programme or censorship, given the not-so-illustrious track record of the ruling party on this matter. When faced with the problem of indeterminacy of Mr. Baey’s true intention, we are forced to look at his party colleagues to search for a coherent answer. To me, the ruling party’s stance is on the rather dire side.

As such, while I appreciate Mr. Baey’s audacity to propose something rather avant-garde, I cannot trust that his speech alone, without the backing of powerful PAP figures, will lead to any actual media reform which the liberals will like.

ps. He ended his speech in Chinese by saying that he seconds the motion. What motion is he talking about?

Explains S’pore society?

In Media, Wit on 15/10/2011 at 8:40 am

I came across this quote after flipping thru today’s ST and MediaCorp’s freesheet. Could explain many things abt our society?

“The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is. For to a degree, people read the press to inform themselves, and the better the teacher, the better the student body.”

– Warren E. Buffett

 

SPH: Another home for ex-ministers?

In Media, Political governance on 07/10/2011 at 7:38 am

This article reminding us of all the ex-ministers who are now govmin advisers reminded me that SPH is another place where ex-ministers are given jobs.

Former Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Dr Lee Boon Yang, will be SPH’s next non-executive chairman from December.  Ministers ending up as chairmen of SPH are nothing new. Think Tony Tan and Lim Kim San. 

Ex-president Nathan documented in his recently published memoirs that the post of SPH chairman is in the gift of the prime minister of S’pore. But SPH is a listed company and its editors and journalists keep saying it is independent of the government.

Other than Dr Lee, Zainul Abidin, a former junior minister, recently got a job with SPH radio.

What should be of concern to SPH shareholders is that Dr Lee and A Zainul were, it is alleged, unemployed when they joined SPH. Apparently, since Dr Lee retired as a minister two years ago, he has been done nothing. [Correction at 12.50 pm on 7 October 2011: He is chairman of TLC, Keppel Corp] No MNC or private sector job offers, it is rumoured

Ain’t that a big surprise? We had been told that S’pore had to pay millions in salaries yearly to ensure that ministers did not resign and seek jobs with private sector companies. As Dr Lee was the media minister, surely the likes of Rupert Murdoch, the Burmese junta, or the Chinese state media company would have beaten a path to his mansion gates, offering him a job?  Here was a man of proven talent in controlling the media.

Apparently not. So he ends up only as SPH chairman. 

Given A Zainul’s experience in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as district mayor, I’m surprised no MNC snapped him him for his diplomatic and administrative skills before he joined SPH, though an Australian miner controlled by a S’porean has since appointed him deputy chairman. The miner has big plans in M’sia.

But this job raises the issue of what he is being paid to do in SPH? And is it a part-time job?

Two more candidates for jobs in SPH?

Mah Bow Tan and Raymond Lim are believed to be jobless. They are also ex-SPH employees, like A Zainul.

SPH shareholders should be concerned if more unemployed ex-ministers are eyeing jobs at SPH at a time when SPH faces challenges to its dominant position in the media space, what with the rise of new media, and increasing public unhappiness with its constructive, nation-building editotial policy. A policy which has been called “suck up to the government of the day” editorial policy.  When the British and M’sian governments ruled here, SPH publications supported their policies.

Update on 21 January 2012 at 5.20pm

Given my comments on the inability of ex-ministers to get big bucks private sectors jobs (here and here), I tot that I would have to sit down and shut up at the end of last year when I read that Georgie Boy was now “special adviser to the Kuok Group” and Lim Hwee Hua has a new job as senior advisor Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), a major US private equity firm.

Well Mrs Lim could be paid mega-bucks: if she performs. KKR says she is a proven leader in the worlds of government, finance and investment and said her expertise of Singapore and Southeast Asia will be particularly valuable to the firm. Mr Joseph Bae, who heads the firm’s Asian operations, added the company will rely on Mrs Lim for her insights for KKR’s portfolio companies in the region.

But as for George Yeo, he said it was “an informal arrangement” and that he would join the private sector in 2012, but could not provide details. He is now a vicechairman of  a Kuok Group company.

Reading between the lines of what he said and snooping around, I suspect that the title “special adviser” and “vice chairman” doesn’t imply that he is getting paid serious money. They are titles that shows that he has access to the decision makers in the Kuok Group.

Raymond Lim is a director of a Swire Pacific Group company here and has some kind of arrangement with a local fund manager. Mah is chairman of Global Yellow Pages Ltd, a local listco. Again, no mega bucks here. And Raymond Lim was from the private sector, for a while.

Wong Kan Seng, Lim Boon Heng and Mah must be enjoying their pensions given their many years of government service. Wonder if as big as this guy?

Francisco Luzon, who runs the Americas division of a Spanish bank, Santander, was retiring after 15 years as an executive director, with a pension of about 56 million euros, or roughly $72 million, the FT reported late last week.

Related post

https://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/retired-ministers-no-megabucks-from-private-sector/

Who reflects reality better, netizens or MSM?

In Media, Political governance on 07/09/2011 at 7:20 am

Dr Derek da Cunha stated in ST recently that “online chatter” was irrelevant to 7 May GE and 27 Aug PE.

He should get several tight slaps, along with “Kee Chui” Chan (of “lunatic fringe” fame) and “Cowboy towns” Lee.

Reading thru the leaked Wikileak cables, one gets the impression that they reflect very accurately what we netizens are saying is the reality on the ground. Not what the local MSM is saying is the reality.

Hell’s bells, our coffee-shop chatter abt ST reflects accurately what  ST reporters told the US embassy staffers on how things work in ST. [Text of the leaked cable] Compare that with what the MSM says abt itself.

True one of them, Lynn Lee*, has recanted what she told the Americans (all misrepresentations she howls). But a reasonable person can be forgiven for not believing her version, but preferring to believe the American version. Jus look at ST’s coverage of the GE and PE.

And it seems that US staffers agree with us[Link], rather than the MSM, on the quality of new PAP candidates in 2006.

So PM, Kee Chui and Dr da Cunha, acknowledge that we netizens reflect reality with less distortions than the publications and stations of our nation-building, constructive SPH and MediaCorp. Give us that respect, since we don’t get the 30 pieces of silver that each SPH and MediaCorp journalist or editor gets, at least that’s what I’ve been told.

Even if the American staffers are wrong abt who is the better reflection of the reality on the ground, they are employees of the hegemon. Their views matter.

*I’m disappointed that my heloo Siew Kum Hong has yet to unfriend her. American informants stick together?

SPH: Worried investor grumbles

In Media on 26/07/2011 at 1:56 pm

A friend who is a long-term shareholder in SPH tells me that the lack of professionalism by SPH editors and reporters in covering the presidential elections is worrying him:

— a reporter who saw Tony Tan and Tan Cheng Bock at a football match (Tony Tan said he wasn’t there);

— yet the reporter didn’t see Tan Kin Lian who was there;

— a reporter who criticises Tan Lin Lian wrongly  for censoring comments addressed to “TKL for president FaceBook page” yet doesn’t do the same when TT’s team censors comments addressed to his FaceBook page;

— the coverage of TT’s speeches look like something from the Pyongyang Times;

— the TT helping boy photo and report made the incident sound contrived for the media; and

— the absence of stories on other examples of TT’s “independence” from the PAP. Surely he says SPH can find other examples.

He wonders if SPH reporters and editors want to make TT look bad.

My friend is worried that the government will be so disgusted by SPH’s unprofessional attempts in promoting TT that it find ways to curb SPH’s dominance in the print media here. And his investment suffers.

Suzhou IPO: Missing from media reports

In China, Infrastructure, Media on 14/01/2011 at 5:49 am

The local media reported that the company managing Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) could be slated for an initial public offering (IPO) of at least 4.5 billion yuan ($883.3 million), going by conservative estimates.

The project started off with Singapore taking a dominant 65 per cent stake and the Chinese taking the minority interest of 35 per cent. But its shareholding reform in 2001 saw this structure reversed with China taking the majority 65 per cent. Singapore’s interest has since been pared down to 28 per cent following capital injection by new investors.

MM in 2004 listed out four success indicators for the SIP. They are attracting businesses and investments; urban planning and development; ‘software’ transfer; and finally, a public listing. (Extracts from BT, but others too covered story)

Funny none of them reminds us that S’pore Inc invested US$147m in the park as of 2000, and that the losses then were US$90m. Sumething ST reported years ago.

Could it be because the 28% S’pore Inc owns could be worth US$153m (after dilution)? Financially S’pore Inc could have made some money (US$6m), not taking into account its share of the US$90m accumulated loss. If the loss is taken into account, it would have lost US$52m.

Either way a marginal gain or loss (I’m assuming S’pore Inc didn’t invest more), taking into account, if true, the goodwill that our teaching “tai kor” would have generated among the Chinese, something our ministers and our media constantly like to remind us of.

And S’porean self-haters (many on the internet) would be banging their balls in frustration that S’pore Inc didn’t lose big time. Though they would be consoled a lot of ministers and senior civil servants spent plenty of time on this project.

So it’s very strange that our “constructive, nation building” media did not report this triumph of S’pore Inc? Or am I missing sumething?

But then our media is not first world class, only fourth world class. Everything must be “betterest”. Another example

The economy did 14.7%, highest in Asia. This was trumpeted by our MSM last week.

If our stock market was tops (or near) in Asia, there would be the usually trumpets.

But our mkt as measured by STI only did 10.1%. Read the rest of this entry »

SPH: Civil war in the newsroom?

In Media on 07/10/2010 at 6:22 am

SPH is a blue chip investment so any mgt problem will affect investors esp those who bot it for its very decent dividend yield.

Are there mixed agendas in the newsroom?

The coverage of Mrs Kuan Yew death is a case in point. As is the case in matters deemed of “nation building” interest, ST went to town with pic after pic, and article after article of people mourning her death. I got the impression that tens of thousands of S’poreans paid their respects.

So I was surprised to be informed that the same ST reported that about 5000 people turned up. That in S’pore’s context is a good crowd. S’poreans are so lazy that they have problems turning out to protest their financial losses (example the minibond and HN5 fiasco). They even have problems signing online petitions (same example).

But what should worry investors is why after giving us the impression of a crowd of tens of thousands, ST went on to deflate the number.

Is this a sign of discord in ST (SPH’s flagship) or is it a balls-up? Either way I’m putting SPH on my “Could things go wrong here?” list.

Joint footie bid: Dog that didn’t bark?

In Media, Telecoms on 11/05/2010 at 10:01 am

Kinda strange that the authorities here have outsourced to FIFA and its commercial agent S’pore’s competition law when it comes to the media . How come the StarHub and SingTel joint bid was allowed by the competition authority? Or is it the anti-competition authority?

Although SingTel and StarHub were planning for a joint bid, Fifa eventually awarded them individual non-exclusive broadcast rights instead, the telcos revealed.

Joint bids are frowned upon as it could set a precedence for other broadcasters to follow suit and thin the coffers from media licensing.

(Part of BT report)

Update

Was told by two eminent persons, one lawyer and another an economist, that many sectors or industries are exempted from the competition laws. They have unprintable views on these exemptions.

Media is exempted from the act, and comes under the purview of Media Development Authority. A third person, not so eminent, in fact downright obscure and usually unreliable, tells me that MDA does not do anti-competition. Witness  its refusal to step in when StarHub had EPL exclusively. Only the row over the price SingTel paid, got it thinking how to have proper competition policies.


Always be sceptical of media hype

In Media on 10/12/2009 at 6:45 am

Especially where it has vested interests: a cautionary tale.

Makes you want to cheer MM Lee on when he criticises the media.

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