Business writer Michael Backman "crossed the line" and was told off by an MP for "interfering in domestic politics" when he wrote a commentary titled "Is Singapore being paranoid?" two months ago in the free-sheet Today, calling for press laws in Singapore to be abolished. (The Straits Times, Nov 13, 2003). What a nut! See, I've been telling you people time and again - watch those OB-markers, they are all there STILL, though invisibly so, as invisible as Remaking Nanny herself. That goes for all you twits who wish to stand up and be counted to make a difference! As we Chinese say - look after yourself first! Choy, don't we know?

That's what happens when they trumpet that hip-&-swinging nation-making glory all over the "people-serving" media. Many, especially those born or just arrived here yesterday, really think we've been REVOLUTIONISED! Hello? Wake up! If only those peeps bother to read my X'Ho-Files, they'll be able to think "straight" enough to write or even gripe properly.

Therefore, sorry lah, Mr Backman, so much for sticking your nose out for the good of society. Learn to be a yes-man first, if you wanna write in an official tabloid. Nothing like some good old thumped-down obedience to get started. You really should watch that "hip-&-swinging speak-up" message they're bandying around these days. Learn to write in that helm-it-you-so-ON way for the quick ascend to the all-important news-desk. Speak FOR the bosses first. Such basic etiquette to career-building also don't know, how to have a head start?

"Don't mix news and comment" - the MP's advice to industry players in what The Straits Times (ST) called "Minister cautions local media" (reported on that same day as above). Yah, learn to do things the ST way - state the news, then bulk up for a worth-your-money read by making your daily paper a lifestyle fodder loaded with lifestyle, environmental, career, social and cultural features (I say features, not issues). Not forgetting the all-important Insight and invaluable Commentaries/Analysis. That way, you don't mix news and comments. Remember, always take your cue from the top (most read publication, hor).

Big headline of ST's Insight page on Nov 15, 2003: "Media 'golden age' looking tarnished." Grave mistake there with the inverted comma. The correct punctuation should read - 'media' golden age looking tarnished.

"Is the market really too small for two players in both print and television?" - the ST editors asked, prompted no less by a Senior Minister's comment. But of course it's too small for two designated play-play players. It's like this y'all - the market's never too small when you get a Cold Storage vs. an NTUC Fairprice. But if John Little's wanna open 10 new Marks & Spencer and call it competition, of course, the premise is too small. To think they lavished two full-pages on that "media slugfest" report in the papers. Slugfest? Pur-lese.

Did you notice that one particular commercial on Channel i TV announcing that The Straits Times and The New Paper are the top-selling newspapers in the land and that Streats' readership has risen while that of Today has dropped? As Singaporeans know, the first three papers are all published by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), while Today is by Mediacorp Publishing. That's why the ad is on Channel i, which is run by SPH's broadcasting arm.

Question is - would, say, Asia Pacific Breweries be allowed to state in an ad that its products Heineken, Anchor, Tiger and Guinness Stout are all selling better than Carlsberg if it were true? And people still look at me and ask - what "double standard" are you talking about? Tsk, tsk tsk.

Besides, the way that Channel i ad is apparently hurting no one ought to tell you EVERYTHING about the "two players" in the field. Singaporeans, I can only deduce, are dumb. That or they're... well, like they say in the papers - "sullen." What a nice word for mute or rude or indifferent or powerless. Sullen. Sull on it, if you will.

An English language teacher from Britain helps out a Thai food vendor in the streets in Bangkok by taking over the cooking at the stall. But she won't accept any pay and has been doing it for two years now (ST, Nov 9, 2003). Alien concept there to Singaporeans, dear. Even though her reason for doing so is - "I love the Thai lifestyle and people are friendly," she said. Ai-ya, that's not the point, right? Imagine if some Bangladeshi visitor decides to do the same here, how then can we monitor illegal employment when folks can claim left, right and centre that they are merely helping out without getting paid?

Alas, my siow friend says my worries are unfounded. First of all, it's unlikely that a Bangladeshi would claim that we are a friendly people and, secondly, if you say that someone is helping out in Singapore for free, no one will believe you.

Oh well, I was just trying to make sure everyone is aware of OB-markers and, as usual, all I get is a no-thanks. Sullen, I see, is the way. Sullen night, holy night... Have a sluggy X'mas, y'all.

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