Jul 3, 2008

When The Media Starts To Smell Fishy

ST July 3, 2008
Vivian's visions from the Internet
Political messages in new media are susceptible to populist pitfalls, he says at RI dialogue
By Jeremy Au Yong

WHEN Dr Vivian Balakrishnan gazed into a crystal ball yesterday on how the Internet would change local politics, three visions popped up.

They were: more diverse views, louder political discourse and politicians delivering their messages in stylish, short multimedia packages, a phenomenon he labelled 'YouTube politics'.

But this future is fraught with pitfalls, the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports told students of Raffles Institution, which had invited him to give a talk on new media and its impact on politics.

As he spelt them out to the 2,000 students, he urged them to use their heads when reading online: 'In the midst of such an exponential growth in information, determining what is true or false is going to be extremely difficult... I have no easy answer except to ask you to be sceptical and to think and be careful.'

To illustrate one pitfall, he pointed to those who still believe that the sun revolves around the earth: 'Because you have an interconnected world, people with far-out ideas, or even wrong ideas, will be able to find someone who also believes the sun revolves around the earth and reinforces those beliefs.'

A diversity of views did not always end up in a 'fundamental truth'. New media allows wrong ideas to be reinforced, he said.
After all this time, our dear leaders are still tossing out all these same old boring red herrings.

"In the midst of such an exponential growth in information, determining what is true or false is going to be extremely difficult ..." Vivian says. But suppose you lived in a highly controlled society where information was very limited. Would it then become easier to determine what's true or false?

Heheh, go think about it. Also, go think about who would be in the position to selectively feed you the information that you do get. The controllers of your society, of course.

"New media allows wrong ideas to be reinforced," Vivian says. And what about old media - would it reinforce only the "right" ideas?

Well, perhaps you would say so. Especially if you belong to the ruling party and the state controls all the old media organisations. Including the ideas that the media organisations write about.

In another ST article today, Vivian offers the following remarks:
He also noted that if the traditional press loses credibility, people would go to the new media.

'There are very few national newspapers with as broad a coverage and obsessive attention to detail and accuracy as our mainstream media,' he said.
Oh certainly, Vivian. In fact, last year, I was even told that the overwhelming majority of readers consider the Straits Times "important" to their lives, and a definite "must-read".

Who told me this? The Straits Times itself.

And did the Straits Times have the statistics, the figures to prove it? Ah yes, certainly.

And how did the Straits Times come up with those statistics and figures? LOL, click here.


Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Did you find this post insightful in any way? If so, please vote for Mr Wang here.

veii said...

The honourable minister used the Copernican / Heliocenticity controversy to illustrate his point. It's kind of archaic, isn't it? Surely there are newer ones, which should have more currency with the young audience at R.I. This is a trend I find among PAP leaders' discourse - the tendency to use old-fashioned examples for illustrating a point. Another example - when talking about high culture, they tend to mention examples like Mozart or other 18th Century musicians, and not something more contemporary, stylish or, god-forbid, controversial. I mean, try to imagine a minister praising Damien Hirst. Difficult, if not quite impossible, no?

Anonymous said...

> He also noted that if the traditional press loses credibility, people would go to the new media

To me, the traditional press and media has already lost its credibility. I'm a rare ST reader (less than 10 times a year) and hardly watch the Mediacorp TV (less than once a month).

In contrast, I spend 1-3hr daily on the new media. I find the new media (i.e. internet) more informative, timely and accurate because there are multiple sources to check from and a diversity of views expressed.

I believe I'm not alone.

Anonymous said...

It is called slow panic by the establishment. Today say only 30% are depending on the new media for political views, in a few years time 50% then 60% ... so on. In other words the trend is irreversible and the authorities have so far found no good way to track and stop viewers and commentators.

Imagine the threat to the establishment that has traditionally controlled people's thinking through the old media.

Anonymous said...

I have not subcribe to the Straits Times for about seven years already. No point throwing good money over bad rubbish. The media has got it all. Written uncensored, without fear and without any propaganda element to it.

I mean I really hate to read about PAP govt policies which have too many times brought depressing news to the general public. Who can be happy about increasing charges for ERP, GST, public transport, etc while CPF withdraws have to be deferred and limiting the amount when able to do so, etc, etc, etc.

The PAP govt also make a big deal about accolades it recieves from foreign institutions. It makes me wonder whether these policies were implemented to be judged by the foreigner than what Singaporeans actually think of it.

Anonymous said...

These yes-men have their brains stuck up their arse. They are happily enjoying their multi$million salary, huge bonus and lifetime pension to even bother about the harsdships Singaporeans face.

Anonymous said...

"'There are very few national newspapers with as broad a coverage and obsessive attention to detail and accuracy as our mainstream media,' he said."

153 countries out of around 200 countries is not "very few"..


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I wish print media will be more skeptical and critical in their take on Singapore political issues, personalities etc. It only shows when it comes to reporting of the Other - like Malaysian politics.

George Chen said...

a bit off the topic sorry, the red fish on this blog is CUTEEE!!!!

btw, what is straits times and Mediacorp? Anyone knows? is it a brainwashing media?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang, as usual my kudo to you for your sharp and witty article, as always expected from your high quality Blog which I refer to everyday without fail.

As a foreigner, I have nothing to do with local politics and wish nothing to do with it either.

But as an educated foreigner always having a curious mind of everything around me, capable of critical and independent thinking, I can only agree with all that you've written about the local mainstream (old) media.

I stopped reading the Straits Times and watching Mediacorps (all old media) only after about 1 month living in this republic.

In my country, such propaganda journalism would've been trashed long time ago by the wide public. Simply because the wide public will never allow themselves to be fed rubbish by the mainstream media.

I don't know. Maybe it has all to do with the country's culture or people's education level / style? I find the culture in this country to be fearful and submissive of a "Big Brother" out there who controls every aspect of the citizen's life. And I also suspect the education style in this island does not really promote critical and independent thinking. It's just my suspicion though, no offence.

Have a nice day and keep up the good work with the great Blog and great source of information, opinions and views.

Anonymous said...

straits times and mediacorpse are filled with the ranks of the cronies....

Anonymous said...

Like i've written time and time, how low can the ST go?

Sad to say, Vivian is very 'thick-skinned'. In the past, we don't have the internet to be another voice. However these days, it is hard to quelch such writings.

I wouldn't have known LKY 'lied' about the International Bar Association letter in his defamation suit against CSJ if it hadn't been for the 'new media'.

Would the ST even publish the transcripts, revealed how MM 'lied' and also use slanderous accusations against CSJ saying CSJ called govt leaders 'murderers, child rapists, molesters, etc'?

Sigh... the govt is so slow at catching because they have such a BIG disconnect that it will take years before they know what hit them... during elections.


Anonymous said...

I have no easy answer except to ask you to be sceptical and to think and be careful.
That's exactly why I stopped reading the Straits Times and turned to new media.

Anonymous said...

If by next GE electoral results significantly mirror the widespread anti-PAP sentiments in the blogsphere, then instead of downplaying it, PAP will have to start respecting this new media and take cues from it. Do you know what this really means, when all along PAP had been talking and doing all it wants!?

You see, there is a revolution going on through the blogsphere if only for the reason what are being said in the blogs & their messageboards on political matters would NEVER, NEVER see the light in the old media. Imagine the distress this has been giving to the control-freakish PAP.

Sure PAP can block access to the blogs but it knows that there is potentially no end to new blog hosting services coming into the scene. Given this, PAP refrains from such censoring as it knows it is going to be an exercise in futility.

I ask Mr Wang and other politically-inclined bloggers to increase the frequency of their political articles, so that this revolution will intensify.

But even as I say this, I would like to sound a caveat that PAP will continue to try other ways to control it.

For example it had attempted to entice popular bloggers to work closely with the establishment by giving them official recognition (by NLB), or by encouraging them to start a blogger association to raise up the status of bloggers much like trade associations, where status, recognition by the establishment, social and business networking and perhaps even monetary incentives will come along the way.

So far happy to say all these have failed.

Anonymous said...

The students should instead use their heads when reading the ST, because in the midst of so much propaganda, determining what is true or false is extremely difficult.

To illustrate one propaganda: 'GST is to help the poor', I think everyone online knows it is a falsehood, clear as daylight.

I think they know that selling their propaganda using the ST is no longer an acceptable channel and that they are losing out in the battle of the minds in cyberspace.

Anonymous said...

"In my country, such propaganda journalism would've been trashed long time ago by the wide public. Simply because the wide public will never allow themselves to be fed rubbish by the mainstream media.

I don't know. Maybe it has all to do with the country's culture or people's education level / style?

Hope the writer of this statement above does not come from the US, supposedly the champion of democracy. Regardless, the following holds true:

Over there in the US despite their so-called liberal press, people also get sold on the big story of WMD in Iraq and connecting it to 911, when in fact the Bush Administration had been party to it.

Please don't tell us only Singaporeans are frightened and brainwashed people. If you know how precarious it is to live in this small country surrounded by hostile large nations, you will understand why our people stood by their leaders all this while.

You should also know that during the early 60's PAP finished off all political opposition, critical press editors, and union leaders by sending over a hundred of them into detention without trial for an indefinite period. Some were jailed as long as 20 to 32 years.

In big countries with vast resources people don't have the same challenges as we have. Singaporeans are probably the strongest and most capable of people on earth. Do you know that an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 of our Chinese forbears were slaughtered in cold blood by the bastard Japanese during WWII. And there was no country to help them.

This is how the main group of Singaporeans who built up this country suffered. Now their children are under the tyranny of their own elected govt. But the US is working hand-in-hand with it, so much that even American media that dares to defame PAP politicians even obliquely would have to cough up hundred of thousands of dollars in damages without even going to court.

Talk about democracy of the West. Their national interest even if highly perverted such as blatantly shown in the invasion of Iraq overrides roughshod over all their big talk of democracy.

Today if Iran is not invaded, that's because the US govt and its people feel it is too great a risk to do so, given the Iraq quagmire and NOT because they believe in being fair to other nations!

What democracy?

Anonymous said...

Seriously, if you stop reading ST, you will miss out all the jokes spewed by our ministers! This one is as good as Lim Swee Say saying ERP = lost money proposition.

Anonymous said...

I hv decided to be true to myself, accept myself for who and what I am, stick to my core principles. This so in order that I am authentic and can preserve my character and integrity.

Most of all, I hv also decided to independently work a means of earning $$$$$, since $$$$ is a vital part of life. As long as I don't cheat or steal or rob from people. As long as I have (always) use my mind and resourcefulness to learn on my own without depending on others to mislead or misguide me or to make me part my $$$ or time/life for nothing.


Anonymous said...

This is the good olde one, two and you are out.

How to make community moderation more palatable and acceptable to the masses?

Very simple give them choice of two evils. If you do not learn to rule yourself, then I will do it for you.

This is just another cheop hard sell pressure technique. Will not work, both a bad.

No one is bitting here

Anonymous said...

If you know how precarious it is to live in this small country surrounded by hostile large nations,

yeah ... thats why Singaporeans NEVER shop at JB, Bintan, Batam!

and damn those bl**dy Indons who are buying up all the condos in SG! And Mt E hospital! its like a bl**dy invasion!

you will understand why our people stood by their leaders all this while.

I am sure I would have if I ever got to vote

Do you know that an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 of our Chinese forbears were slaughtered in cold blood by the bastard Japanese during WWII. And there was no country to help them.

and it was our dear MM and Prez who inflitrated the bl**dy Japs and wiped them out ala Rambo!

Talk about democracy of the West. Their national interest even if highly perverted such as blatantly shown in the invasion of Iraq overrides roughshod over all their big talk of democracy.

Our leeders will never send any troops or supply ships to the persian gulf!

Only SG have true demoCRAPcy!


Alex Tan said...

we need good articles like this to counter their rubbish.


Anonymous said...

Mr Wang asked: Did you find this post insightful in any way?

Actually, the greatest insight to be gained from reading your blog is: should not have babies in Sg! This will solve the problem at its root - sever ties right from the start. Note: that's not my blog. So, don't hantam me.

Anonymous said...

"obsessive attention to detail and accuracy as our mainstream media"

That has to be the funniest punchline I've heard from a minister this year! Wong Kan Seng is no match for Vivian

Anonymous said...

NoName 3:23 PM, I can see that you can't neither read nor think.

No one is saying that just because the US has pseudo democracy, therefore Singapore has, stupid.

Just because people from neighbouring countries buy up properties in Singapore, does not mean that certain factions within those countries are friendly to Singapore.

Besides those foreigners who buy up the properties are not necessarily those hostile ones nor are they necessarily doing it for Singapore's good; they are just investing for their own good, can't you understand this simple fact.

Just because Singaporeans shop in Johor and Batam does mean that certain factions in those countries are friendly to Singaporeans. Do you know that politicians in M'sia like to use Singapore s a whipping boy to rise to power. Anwar is one example during the 70's.

You were probably not even born then.

Noname, you seem to think in black and white fashion : If one thing is black therefore the other must be white.

Just because PAP is dictatorial does not mean there are there are no external threats to Singapore.

That is not reality you are dealing with. That's just a dream you are creating for yourself.

Stop jumping at any view that you cannot comprehend.

You should not pick at others' writings by selectively taking out passage out of context to make fun of.

Learn to read well before even you try to write at all. You sounds too much like a simpleton.

Anon 11:45

Anonymous said...

Vivi (the forgotten) doing DMG control. LOL
And here I thought he is the brainy scholar type. Hawker, Foodcourt or Restraunt.Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Dear anon 11:45

This post is about "New Media".
In the 70s ... there was no internet. Life was simple. Newspaper printed ... news... I remember eagerly waiting for the newspaper man. That was the fastest source of soccer news about my beloved Red Devils.

Sorry, my time no national education. I think my 13th ICT got something but aircon very shiok so I fell asleep.

Btw, the world is a reflection of urself. the world is as wide as ur heart is deep. Mr Wang say one. not happy comprain him hor.

So when u visit KL\Jakarta have open mind lah. Those people very fren one.

speaking of selectively taking out passage ... check out ur Mdm Yeong's reply. Power siah!

PS: I blame my lousy reading and writing skills on NUS. Can get money back or not?


JY said...

In response to some of the comments:

Vivian's statements are indeed the same old boring red herrings. It would be however, a pity to write off the mainstream media because of their lack of credibility. In my opinion it's better to read them with a critical eye, for they, being mainstream, occupy a central position in public discussion. They anchor even the most well-written opinion pieces on blogs and such.

Anonymous said...

Quote:In big countries with vast resources people don't have the same challenges as we have. Unquote
- anon July 4, 2008 11:45 AM

Small Singapore has its' advantages too. For one the job of governing is so much easier. If London with a much larger population needs only a mayor, why do we need so many multi$million ministers and bureaucrates ?
Singapore may not have the natural resouces of big countries like Australia but there are US$500 billion of Singaporean wealth invested all over the world. Moreover as you have written, Singaporeans are very capable people.

Anonymous said...

In the US, freedom of speech is a fundamental right. The three separate branches of government perform the basic function of check and balance. None of these is true in the Singapore context.

Anonymous said...

"Just because PAP is dictatorial does not mean there are there are no external threats to Singapore."

Ehhh, Uncle, can stop talking irrelevant crap or not.

North Korea also got external threat, what. Their external threat is called "the USA".

The fact that you got an external threat doesn't mean that it's better to censor all the newspapers in the country.

Goondu lah, you. Full of irrelevant crap.

Anonymous said...

If I am not wrong, when USA had their independence, the founding fathers had in mind that when all men are equal, they (the founding fathers) meant that all men are basically the same in their hearts - basically crooked as in not perfect, not white as snow. Thus the checks and balances. Take for instance, the human instinct of pain avoidance mechanism. We would tend to do anything to lie to avoid being caught. But of course, the USA of today may have overstretched this meaning of equality. Whereas here, we must remember that our National Pledge was penned by S Rajaratnam.

Anonymous said...

Just thinking; will Singapore collapse because of Singaporeans?

And NOT because of hostile neighbours, lack of resources and natural disasters.


Anonymous said...

Quote: If you know how precarious it is to live in this small country surrounded by hostile large nations, you will understand why our people stood by their leaders all this while.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Hostile large neighbours, is it? I'm an expat and my spouse is Indonesian. We're both professionals working for MNC in this small country of yours surrounded by its "hostile" large neighbours. Or are they?

Do you realize sir/madam, without all those tens of thousands Indonesians who live in the Republic of Singapore and who :

-Work here, hence supporting your country's economy. They can be found in all walks of life, from your maid all the way up to Executives, Directors, Managers and CEOs.

-Invest here, do you realize that Indonesians are the biggest group foreigners who buy properties in this small country of yours? And you say they're hostile? Why don't you kick them out of your small precarious country, and see what will happen with the local property market.

-Go to local hospitals, sir or madam, if you have one Saturday morning to spare, I'd suggest you go to Mt. Elizabeth Hospital or SGH or Tan Tock Seng Hospital or Raffles Hospital or NUS Hospital or Gleneagles Hospital (did I mention them all?) and if you don't hear people speaking in Bahasa Indonesia all around you, I'll dare to give you a million dollar (not Rupiah). And how much $$$ do you think these Indonesian patients bring to S'pore annually? My 1 million $ to you is peanuts indeed.

-Study here, I happen to know some of the brightest Indonesian students who study at NUS / NTU. And yes, many of them stay here to work, hence not only contributing to the vibrancy of S'pore academic world but also its economy. And I haven't even talked about Indonesian kids who attend S'pore primary and secondary schools. There are thousands of them! Hostile you say, huh? Why not kick them all out, since they're the "hostile neighbours", right? And see what will happen with your local schools, with your already plummeting low local birth rate. Less kids to attend local schools. Tutup lah! And don't underestimate this group of Indonesians. They stay here, they pay school fees, oftentimes their (rich) Indonesian parents buy a condo for their kids, send a guardian to stay with them (if not their own mother), spend money on local economy, for years that those kids are at local school. And needless to say, when those "hostile" Indonesian kids graduate and may or may not stay in S'pore (I know many Indonesian kids choose to go overseas for their university), they will surely have positive feelings about the S'pore who has educated them through primary and secondary school. Not as hostile as you, huh?

-Invest here (part 2), next to buying up property, it is public secret that many rich Indonesians park their money in banks here. My Indonesian friend is a bank executive at a famous MNC bank in CBD and is in charge of Indonesian investments. Her Indonesian department is by leaps and bounds the biggest in $ term invested in S'pore. No other SEA countries (even Malaysia, Thailand, etc) exceed the $ value of Indonesian investment in S'pore. Hostile, right? Why don't you write to your MP to ban all these Indonesian investors and see what will happen with your country's coffers.
And I haven't even started yet with allegedly ill-gotten capital from Indonesian (allegedly) corrupt businessmen v.a.v. politicians parked in S'pore banks. But I shall not comment on that.

-Indonesian tourists who come and spend their hard-earned Rupiah in S'pore. Do you realize that Indonesians are the number 1 visitors in term of number to this republic? (Go to S'pore Tourism Board and they can give you the statistics). Hostile huh? Why not bar them from entry altogether? And see how your Orchard Road will look like? (Damn, everytime I go to Takashimaya, can't escape hearing Bahasa Indonesia spoken all around me).

And Sir or Madam, I can go on and on and on.

And oh, one last thing to ponder about your "hostile" large neighbours. Do you ever realize just for 1 minute that the vegetables, chicken, beef, pork, rice, oil, gas, even the water that you drink, all of these are imported from your "hostile" large neighbours, Indonesia and Malaysia. Hostile huh? Sir or Madam, I suggest you get rid of the imaginary ghost in your head, it's really unhealthy for you, you know.

And you know, as I also know, in whose interest is it to keep perpetuating that imaginary "enemy" in the people's heads? In order to keep whose power in the Republic of Singapore forever and ever in eternity, amen...?

Anonymous said...

This is not for publication:

Mr Wang all this is getting very sensitive with Indonesian coming in to put us down. I suggest closing this messageboard.

Now you see why depending too much on foreign investors carry national risks. They are the trojan horse of the future.

Perhaps both the Plen (the ex-communist rep in Singapore) & MM were right : Singapore is freak nation, a precarious one.

Anonymous said...

>>WHEN Dr Vivian Balakrishnan gazed into a crystal ball yesterday on how the Internet would change local politics, three visions popped up.

3 visions???...4 possible outcomes (Pedra Branca), 3 basic economic scenarios (GIC) etc...

Wow lau our million $ ministers giving us multiple choices

Anonymous said...

Our neighbours are not hostile. Yet are they friends? They simply find it convenient to berate rhe "little red dot" when it is convenient and make it a point to remind you how little you are. Now if they were to do the same to Australia, the USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China or India that would be something.

Anonymous said...

anon 8:07 is a moron who cannot understand what he/she reads let alone debate properly.

Go back to your milk bottle, infantile mind.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:26, why are you saying all these to us? Did anyone specifically say that Indon tourists and investors are hostile?

Or are you saying that you are coming here for Singapore's good and not for yourself because Singapore is an attractive tourist destination, has good medical facilities and investment in properties can prove profitable?


Anonymous said...

Singapore not precarious lah, we got very friendly neighbours, except Singapore only get whacked here and there by bigger countries : Shin Corp in Thailand and lately Indosat in Indonesia.

Shin Corp is old story (2006) but the trouble is not over yet.

Temasek just sold Indosat stake to a M.E company after being sued for by the competition regulator there.

At that rate, Temasek is going belly up when other countries see that it is easy prey.

Even a few rocks in the sea can become big matter if they want to find trouble.

Blame it on PAP but still that does change the story one bit.

Friendly, who say not friendly ... only big bully small mah.

Of course foreign moles crawling around in the blogs will tell you another story as though there is not news report to inform.

The said...

/// I love Indonesia said...
Hostile large neighbours, is it? I'm an expat and my spouse is Indonesian. We're both professionals working for MNC in this small country of yours surrounded by its "hostile" large neighbours. Or are they? ///

"I love Indonesia" - just like the guy whose "patriotic" quote got you all worked up, I suggest you dropped your sense of "patriotism" as well. You will do well to distinguish between a country and its people. What you have quoted are all about the Indonesian people and they are all valid. Can you be sure that the Indonesian government think and behave likewise in times of trouble?

Anonymous said...

Oh, Mr. Wang! I love you, baby!

Anonymous said...

Actually I think patriotism (love of one's country) is not wrong. What is wrong is incorrect perception NOT based on facts.

The facts stand that peaceful as people in every country normally are, under the provocation of wrong ideologies they can turn hostile even to its own sub-group citizens within the same country such they have to run to other countries like Singapore for cover.

The trouble is that the "i love indonesia" fella does not want to admit this fact. Short is his memory.

The said...

Anon at July 7, 2008 10:37 AM

Agree with you. That's why I used the words "patriotic" and "patriotism" in quotation marks.

Anonymous said...

Definitions of "hostile"

"1. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of an enemy: a hostile nation.
2. opposed in feeling, action, or character; antagonistic: hostile criticism.
3. characterized by antagonism.
4. not friendly, warm, or generous; not hospitable."

1. Are Indonesia/Malaysia "enemies"? I think not, and I hope not.
2. Are they opposed to Singapore? From what I see, not in general.
3. Are they antagonistic towards Singapore? Well, I'm sure there are people there who feels that way. But most people from the 2 countries do not particularly feel anything about Singapore.
4. Are they not friendly, warm, nor generous? From what I experience during travels, they are in general friendlier and warmer of heart compared to those in SG.

True, there are truly bad elements in both countries. But I don't believe that's enough to call them "Hostile Nations".

That's just scare mongering.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the government is trying to brush past the new Web, Web 2.0. Look at Redditt, Digg, and countless other websites that rank articles according to users. Many of the top featured stories, articles and thoughts are from individual blogs or websites, instead of newspapers or magazines.

Web 2.0's ability to allow users to share their thoughts easily with others have shown that some of the best and well thought out views are from individuals, not newspapers that are edited by editors to be politically correct.

Afterall, you can have fifty reporters for a newspaper, but there are hundreds and hundreds of individuals out there who can think and write as well. Surely the chances of finding some brilliant individuals who can think more logically and write better than the reporters from a larger pool of people is higher, isn't it?

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Ah, Potassium, you remind me of one of my old posts, about the potential expertise that you may find in blogs and bloggers. An excerpt from my old post:

"If for example you are a human resource officer, you could well be an expert commentator on employment issues and the Singapore job market. If you are a self-employed businessman, you could well be an expert commentator on commercial issues in Singapore and the region. If you are a local university undergrad, you could well be an expert commentator on tertiary education in Singapore. If you are a property agent, you could well be an expert commentator on the Singapore property market.

In each of my above examples, you could well be a far more expert commentator than any SPH journalist. This is because the journalist, by virtue of being a full-time journalist, is therefore not a full-time human resource officer, businessman, undergrad or property agent. Therefore he cannot possibly have as much expertise as the full-time human resource officer, businessman, undergrad or property agent, in the respective fields ...."

Those interested in that old post can read it here.

Anonymous said...

On hostile neighbours, anon above wrote: "That's just scare mongering."

Assuming you are correct, the Singapore govt must be nuts to spend S$10 billion on defence last year and make our young men serve more than 2 years of NS.

Do you not know that Indonesia banned sand export from Batam to Singapore last year? Rising cost of housing and inflation in general can be partly attributed to this, given that sand has now to be imported from as far away as Vietnam.

Just two months back Batam attempted to block gas supply to Singapore. This blog which talks about this issue hosted by an admirable young man is far more informed on this serious danger posed to our country.

Buy you will say all this is just business.

Ah, Malaysia. You know what the ridiculous crooked bridge proposed by Mahathir was all about? No? Then ask even any taxi driver and he can give you a version of his - to fix up Singapore.

Now lest you think it ends there, have you also not read what the business leaders in Singapore replied to PM Abdullah Badawi when invited to invest in Johor's Iskandar Development Region?

They said : "Why would we want to invest when we are not welcome there?"

In fact I was told by a friend who together with partners invested $millions in a piece of land in Johor for development only to be told later that they could not do so because the Sultan's land was next to theirs. Now that land is good as nothing.

Want more? Last year, the Sultan of Johor said that his forefathers were duped by the British in selling Singapore to them and urged the M'sia govt to remove the Johor causeways altogether.

The water issue with M'sia has a long history. Years back Johor's community (whoever they are) clamoured to stop all water supply to Singapore until their politicians told them Johor was getting processed water back from Singapore. Newater by the water was forced into production because of this serious threat. And they laugh at us that we are drinking sewarage water. That's expected from them.

Have you also not heard over the grapevine of a near-military confrontation at sea over the Horsburgh Lighthouse when a faction in M'sia sent a vessel to stake its claim on that lighthouse? But for a show of force with a half a dozen naval vessels from Singapore, you think the issue is so easily dealt with?

These stories are recent history but if you go back further, there are more. Let's not mention them; it is better you read up a bit on Singapore's history.

It is factions like community, trade unions, royalties, religious groups that influence and sometimes dictate govt policies, quite unlike Singapore where the govt has all the say.

So it is not about individual citizens BUT factions within countries.These factions influence and even dictate policies to their govts. Temasek's Indosat troubles was started by the labour unions in Indonesia, resulting in Temasek divesting its stake lately.

Or perhaps the Singapore govt is just too paranoid to spend so much on defence. But then ask why all the other nations many of which are more geopolitically advantaged than Singapore are similarly spending so heavily and some even much more on defence.

They must be fear-mongering then?

Of course lah, you don't hear our politicians (except may be LKY who like to provoke others) talking about all these. As diplomats, they will always say the good things like "Oh, we have excellent relationship with our neighbours".

But it is up to the citizens to read the news and read between the lines. I have only mentioned a few cases here. If critics of the govt are skeptical about the official media why are some not independent enough to form their own conclusions about this matter and need to be expressly told by the govt about such sensitive issues by the state before they understand?

The fact is that hostility nowadays need not be conducted militarily. It can be conducted with economic means such as those mentioned above.

But again all the evidences would mean nothing to one who is convinced he/she is always right.

Anonymous said...

Apparently some people "up there" are VERY CONCERNED that Singapore gets less visitors (hence, income!) from its direct and "hostile" neighbour, the biggest economy in SE Asia, and also Singapore's biggest visitor-generating nation = Indonesia.

Anon, Jul 11, 9:54 AM and other like-minded readers = You said Singapore got "hostile" neighbours, huh? Thanks to you and your PARANOIA, Singapore will go down faster . Clap clap... Keep up the good work, guys!


Singapore Tourism Chief "Very Concerned" about visitor arrivals
Andrea Tan
Bloomberg, 11 Jul 08

Singapore is "very concerned'' that the growth in visitor arrivals is slowing and is keeping a close watch on how it may affect the government's target for travelers to the island-state this year, tourism chief Lim Neo Chian said.

Growth in visitor arrivals eased to 0.8 percent in April and May, the slowest expansion in a year, according to data from the Singapore Tourism Board. Visitors from Indonesia, Singapore's biggest visitor-generating nation, fell 12 percent in May, the steepest decline among the city's largest markets.

"The growth rate has eased a little bit,'' Lim, the tourism board's deputy chairman, said in an interview in Singapore today. "The overall general environment is obviously very challenging in many of our key markets. We're very concerned and monitoring very carefully.''

Singapore may have fewer visitors than expected as inflation and a weaker global economic outlook curb travel plans. This may put at risk the city-state's target for tourist arrivals to increase 5 percent to 10.8 million this year. The city also expects the number of visitors to rise to 17 million by 2015 with new attractions including two casino-resorts.

"It's a little bit too rushed and too quick to change our target,'' Lim said. "It depends how big a drop'' the Singapore tourism industry will face.

Asian policy makers are predicting expansion this year will be at the lower end of their targets or are cutting growth forecasts as they increase estimates for inflation. Singapore's economy expanded at the slowest pace in five years in the second quarter as a 26-year high inflation constrained spending.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, may have expanded 6.1 percent in the second quarter, the slowest pace in more than a year, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said July 9.



Singapore economy hit by worst contraction in 5 years
Koh Gui Qing
Reuters, 10 Jul 08

Singapore's economy suffered its steepest decline in five years in the in the second quarter, down an annualised, seasonally adjusted rate of 6.6 percent -- much stronger than economists had expected.

Economists had forecast the economy to shrink about 1 percent in the quarter, hurt by a slump in pharmaceutical production and electronics manufacturing.

Singapore is the first Asian country to report quarterly GDP data and its heavy dependence on trade make the $160-billion economy a good gauge of the impact of a slowdown in the United States and Europe on Asia.

"The drag was almost entirely due to drugs, but we are most likely to see a rebound in drugs in the third quarter and that should pull the GDP number up," said Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB. "We have cut out full-year growth forecast to 4.6 percent from 5.7 percent."

The Singapore dollar weakened on the news and was trading at 1.3616 to the U.S. dollar after the data, compared with 1.3588 before.

Song said he expected no change in Singapore's monetary policy at the next review in October because the contraction was caused by undershooting of the biomedical sector and a change in policy would not help.

The advance estimate is largely based on the first two months of the quarter.

"The electronics cluster also registered some decline, mainly because of weakening foreign demand. However, other industries such as transport engineering and chemicals continued to grow," the trade ministry said in a statement.

That shrinking feeling?

Despite the bleak reading, the worst since the second quarter of 2003 when the economy shrank 7.8 percent, economists expect Singapore to avoid a recession -- usually defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.

They said activity generated by a Formula One Grand Prix motor race, which the island hosts in September, will help.

Economies across the world, already strained by the credit crunch, have been further hit by high energy and food prices, which are hurting corporate profits and consumer demand and driving inflation to multi-year highs.

Asian economies, many of which rely on exports, are bracing for slower growth this year, with healthy growth in the region's powerhouses such as China offering less of a cushion than originally anticipated.

South Korea cut its 2008 growth forecast earlier this month to 4.6 percent, the slowest pace since 2005, citing soaring commodity prices and weaker exports.

Singapore saw exports drop in May at its sharpest rate in 2 years. Shipments to Europe and the United States -- which make up a third of all exports sold -- were the hardest hit, but exports to other major markets, including China also fell.

In an annual comparison the economy grew 1.9 percent in the second quarter, slower than a 3.1 percent forecast in a Reuters poll and slowing from 6.9 percent in the first quarter.

The economy expanded at a seasonally adjusted and annualised rate of 15.6 percent in the first quarter, bouncing from a 4.8 percent dip in the final three months of 2007.


Anonymous said...

It's been a while,
since the fish started to smell.

What ST tells you,
what you need to know,
is sometimes confused,
with what ST wants to show.

Is the cup empty?
Is the cup full?
Is the cup there?
Is the cup in your head?

It is as I say,
It is as I said,
It matters not what you see,
What matters what I said.

Fundamental truth,
Truth be told,
Lies on the fundamentals,
Of which truth is sold.