ambiguity

February 26, 2010

Disgraceful

Filed under: Uncategorized — theinkhorn @ 1:03 pm

I remember how i used to love reading The New Paper. Years and years ago, when I was still the intellectual equivalent of a Homo habilis, confined to a pathetic excuse for an education system and caged by an equally incompetent institution. But I was always wise enough never to take anything on it seriously. Except the sports section. Oh how I loved reading the sports section. Every time the bell rang for recess, my first stop would be the bookshop. I’d pick up a copy of the paper and flip to the back instantly. The witty styles of Ernest Luis and Iain Macintosh never ceased to amuse me. Their knowledge of football impressed me, and inspired me to expand my writing to include sports.

Today, I hardly touch local newspapers anymore. The mainstream media’s inability to provide fair and just reporting has sufficiently disillusioned me. But even more than the media, the attitude of journalists baffle me. It is one thing to be unaware of the media’s bias. It is another to understand it and continue writing for them anyway. If their aim is to establish credibility and move on to other outlets, it is a huge waste of time. The notoriety of Singapore’s media is widespread, and anyone associated with local papers is unlikely to garner much credibility at all.

July last year, I wrote a commentary here addressing what i consider an insipid, sensationalised piece of writing published on TNP. It contained all the elements of what i like to call “a blow-up doll” article: All gas, no real substance. Inevitably, I offended the journalist and her friend and together they voiced their grievances. Regrettably, our exchange only lasted a couple of messages. It had occurred to me though that she would attempt to dissolve my credibility by referring to my anonymous status. I didn’t see the need to mention the success of Wayang Party’s anonymity since I’m really not that anonymous. They just didn’t put in enough effort.

Of course, TNP being a tabloid, articles like these should be expected. They probably gave her huge pats on her back for it. Which is why it came as no surprise to me when i saw her name at the top of this article.

Over the course of the last few months, Temasek Review has been carrying out an extensive “campaign” to reveal the extent of foreign integration in our society. From publishing excerpts of the MM’s infamous Nat Geo interview to displaying ads of local companies looking to hire only foreigners, Temasek Review ran the “foreign talent” scheme ragged and has, it seems, successfully transformed Singaporeans from “apathetic” to “pissed off”.

Miss Bharwani’s article appears to have only one motive: Appease the angry mob. I understand the strategy, of course. Calm down the angry people by telling them that their competitors suck. Classic stuff. What bothers me is how unscrupulously shameless it is.

The title, in bold, sets the tone of the article. “She failed her English 3 times.” Nothing subtle about that. The article begins with a Vietnamese girl’s sob story. Coming to a foreign land, far away from home, unable to speak a word of English, all in the name of making a better life for her and her family. It focuses on her academic capabilities, despite her linguistic shortcomings. In layman’s terms, “She can’t communicate but she is smart.” The statement that really irks me, however, is this one:

“If you thought that foreign students here usually do well in exams here, you’ll be surprised to know that there are many others like her.”

What’s so surprising about foreign students not doing well? When did the notion of foreign students being smarter get installed into our minds? This statement preys on the assumption that Singaporeans have conceded defeat to foreigners, which I assure you is not the least bit true. It is remarkably dense, though I can’t claim to be that surprised.

The rest of the article is insignificant babble since Miss Bharwani seems to have driven home the point relatively early. “Don’t worry, Singaporeans. Foreigners still suck to a certain extent, so you’re safe”. The only reason I can conceive for writing such a mindless, insensitive and presumptuous piece of propaganda is the intention to incite sympathy from Singaporeans for those whom they consider competitors. It reads like a mother attempting to convince her jealous son that his baby brother isn’t that cute.

Fawn over the baby all you like, then tell that green-faced little monster behind you that he’s not really that adorable. What a childish, dim-witted tactic. The nerve of them. Another severe underestimation of Singaporeans. Just how stupid do they think we are? This is why I have no respect for journalists in this country. When you are part of a machine that serves up bullshit like this, if you are willing to abandon your journalistic ethics, if you are willing to bow down to a media that stifles and undermines, do not expect me to pull my punches. I do not, now, or ever, wish to be part of the disgracing of the profession I so admire. But if it’s alright with you, then be my guest.

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5 Comments »

  1. Hello there, I just chanced upon your blog while looking for one of my old articles. I wanted to say thank you for the very kind words and tell you that I’m very glad that you’ve enjoyed my articles.

    Obviously I can’t possibly comment on the rest of the blog, mainly because I know nothing about anything except football, but it was lovely to see my name next to some nice words instead of the usual anger and rage!

    All the best,

    Iain

    Comment by Iain Macintosh — March 1, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

  2. Anytime Iain. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by theinkhorn — March 1, 2010 @ 10:29 pm

  3. haha , this made me laugh. love it

    Comment by alishia — March 2, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

  4. Hi there, good article. We all know our papers run their own own ceremony to pat their own backs and claim credit for being outstanding in this and that. Perhaps the bloggers (maybe temasek review ) should start a alternate awards ceremony. Giving out awards like, Bootlicking journalist of the year, Lost journalist of the year or even, Best Supporting(Balls) Journalist of the year etc. Of course we should be transparent and indicate the article the person won for and what was the winning point.

    Comment by Oscars for Journalist — March 8, 2010 @ 9:01 am

  5. Fantastic idea. Lost journalist of the year. I like that one.

    Comment by theinkhorn — March 8, 2010 @ 10:33 am


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