Singaporean vultures are out for SPH's carcass

Starved for the tiniest shred of bad news to feed on, representatives of the local species reappeared hopeful of a few drops of blood, and an opportunity to parade their moral superiority. Hypocrites

Most things in Singapore run like clockwork and this extends even to people who hopelessly try to convince everybody else that the city-state is some dystopian dictatorship where everything is terrible (or, at least, could be much better if only awesome people like them had power).

They typically keep quiet for long periods of time, to resurface like vultures (and a Hen ;) ) at the faintest smell of blood.

Cherian George suddenly reappeared in SCMP after 3 years, to pen a column warning about PAP's dominance over the media, which he alleges the party has used to keep its firm grip on power for 50+ years.

Somehow the irony that he was getting published in a HK press title owned by Jack Ma - now squashed under the boot of Xi Jinping - was totally lost on him. Not to mention that the Hong Kong based professor, so outspoken about freedom of expression, has not made a single public peep about the protests in the city he inhabits, nor the sweeping national security law that brought it firmly into Beijing's fold.

🔴 It takes a special kind of a hypocrite to build his career on talking about free speech, railing about Singapore and never mention the protests happening for months on end under his own windows.

Of course he's not doing that because he knows the likely price for speaking critically of China in HK these days, particularly as his wife is employed by SCMP. But attacking SG comes at no price - a hitman squad isn't going to come knocking on his door and the worst thing that ever happened to him was that, after years of work in the local academia, he wasn't granted a tenure (I'm sure Alexei Navalny is sending his commiserations about this terrible mistreatment from his Siberian prison).

But the good professor didn't end there - he followed up with some social media posts providing advice on how SPH should be restructured and financed from now on.

Curiously this has not made its way into the SCMP piece - I wonder why? Was it because it's something that a paper privately owned by a Chinese billionaire currently strong-armed by Xi Jinping into submission would rather avoid discussing or even suggesting?

Mind you - we're talking here about a "freedom fighter" who, just last year, penned a 10 page letter of complaint to KPMG about the company's employee who disagreed with him in a Facebook post.

How is this guy still treated seriously by anyone is beyond my comprehension.

🟢 Though, perhaps it shouldn't be so shocking if people treat seriously another bloke on my list - Sudhir Vadaketh.

Ah, the habitual race-baiter has now weighed in on how poorly SPH has, supposedly, been managed and how terribly overpaid its executives are - clearly framing his entire hit piece as a smear of elites who, by his own words "have run the Straits Times into the ground".

Somehow the great "researcher" that he is missed a simple fact that ST posted record-breaking daily circulation figures in 2020 - the best in recorded history, with 458,200 copies, jumping up from 386,000 in 2019. Of course this was driven in part by the pandemic - but it goes to show that during the times of crisis, Singaporeans turned to local press for reliable information.

And it's not surprising since, as I mentioned in Part I of my series, 62% of Singaporeans trust the media, according to Edelman Trust Barometer 2021.

🟢 Even before the pandemic ST readership stayed at broadly similar levels for the past 20 years.

Back in 2000 it was ca. 390,000 copies per day, it gradually dropped to around 365,000 by 2010 and then bounced back with digital circulation to, again, around 380-390,000. And then, last year shot up to over 450,000.

All of this information is freely and publicly available online, in annual reports published by SPH - but it seems it's too much of an effort. Or perhaps it simply doesn't align with Sudhir's fantasies, so he conveniently ignored the numbers and published a hatchet job accusing Singaporean authorities of destroying the company.

Mind you, this critique about lacking management comes from a 44 year old guy who shared the same house with his parents, wife and two cats that he (I'm serious) refers to as his "kids" - just until 3 years ago.

His chief achievement is writing for The Economist some years ago. And in his ignorance (probably coupled with blind pride of his former workplace), he brought the magazine up in his article, as an example of a better and more cheaply managed media outlet - ignoring not only the fact that it's not a general news daily but a business weekly typically subscribed to by corporations (and sold globally) but that the company has been in trouble, seeing its profits after taxes drop by nearly half since 2017

The company's indicative share value (i.e. the estimated value of the business) dropped by nearly 30% in the same time, just a tad less than SPH performance between October 2017, when Ng Yat Chung took over and April 2021, when SPH's stock was back to nearly S$2.00, following a rally since the August of 2020, during which its price has nearly doubled.

🟢 Is this how companies are ran into the ground? I would have expected that he'd have been taught in The Economist how to read basic tables and find information. So there are only two options - either he's too lazy or fearful to do it, or he, quite consciously, lies.

Much like Terry Xu, actually, whose meltdowns over the situation at SPH are rather excellent entertainment.

🟠 Here's a guy who employed Malaysian writers masquerading as Singaporeans to cut costs and stay afloat, whining about alleged mismanagement and lack of accountability at SPH.

You just can't make this up.

He's out accusing the local government of bankrolling its propaganda while his own site runs pieces like "Singapore ranks 4th out world with most Indian variant Covid cases", employing fearmongering to drive clicks, while ignoring the simple fact that the cases were intercepted at the airport and not transmitted locally.

In his typical fashion he turns a Singaporean success story into a political attack, ignoring the consequences it may have on lives and livelihoods during the pandemic. All to mislead people and drive more clicks to his flailing website.

And this person has now the temerity to protest the media standards in the country? Seriously? Do these people have a mirror at home?

🔵 Finally, we arrive at Kirsten, whom I renamed Hen a few months ago, as she's really a cowardly chicken, afraid to even take responsibility for her own actions.

Now she's raising a ruckus over SPH's editorial integrity and independence in the light incoming direct funding by the government. Seriously?

This is a person who took tens of thousands of dollars from FOREIGN donors to found New Naratif with PJ Thum and she's now complaining about domestic financing of domestic news outlets? What?

Like her colleagues, she only crawls out into the light whenever there's an opportunity to frame something as a disaster caused by the PAP.

Remember the Covid coverage last year, when the country was grappling with the outbreak in foreign worker dorms, and Hennie was given space in foreign outlets to whine about their terrible mistreatment, governmental incompetence and xenophobia, while promoting the idea of allowing foreign workers to settle down with families in Singapore?

After it turned out that dorms actually helped, as they contained the outbreak within their walls, preventing a spillover into the society, and Singapore has become one of the most open and safe countries in the world, Hen went back to her coop to hibernate. She woke up when the TraceTogether controversy erupted in January of this year, giving her an opportunity to cluck again about how bad and Orwellian the government is for rolling out the world's broadest and most effective contact-tracing effort.

🔵 This is how vile these people are - they will deliberately undermine trust in public programs meant to save lives, just to promote their sociopolitical ideologies and attack the authorities fighting the pandemic.

How low is too low for you, seriously? How dare you even talk about responsibility?


You see, I understand that many people may disagree with me - such is life. I also understand that no group of people, least of all an entire society, is going to think alike - so it's only natural that there are disagreements and even resentment towards each other.

But how vile must you be to habitually lie, manipulate, ignore publicly available information, facts and figures, and go as far as to undermine trust in nationwide efforts to reduce the spread of once-in-a-century deadly virus just to push your narrative and attack the people doing their best to keep everyone safe?

As I'm writing about this, it really makes me sick.

I can't fathom how they are not yet outcast by the society.

It's fine to have different views on things, to disagree, discuss, debate - even fiercely or cunningly - but also factually, reasonably and, most of all, responsibly.

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