The stupid thing about IMDA ordering The Opinion Collaborative to return $5,000

Here’s the short background: The Opinion Collaborative used to publish the online news site TOC, before they split up. During that time, the organisation received $5,000 from Monsoons Book Club in the UK to run a competition – the amount was recorded as advertising revenue.

Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) asked that the money be returned to Monsoons Book Club because it considered it to be funding from foreign sources (except for bona fide commercial purposes) that would be prejudicial to the site’s presentation of local issues. Monsoon Book Club names Mr Tan Wah Piow, a former ISA detainee, as one of its directors.

I’m not arguing about the legitimacy of the transaction – this point has already been contested by The Opinion Collaborative in its press statement. The thing that really gets to me is how easy it is for ACTUAL nefarious agendas, terrorists, and foreign influencers to get funds to publications in the Singapore socio-political space.

To prove the point, The Opinion Collaborative has returned the $5,000 to Monsoons Book Club, which then gave $6,000 to The Opinion Collaborative, which is now all legit because The Opinion Collaborative has been de-linked from the website TOC. It’s a big “F U” to IMDA.

And, had this organisation been one with intentions to influence local politics, it would have been just as easy to hand that $6,000 on to any other news site, run an ad or promo, and fund some other agenda. IMDA’s regulations are powerless to actually stop the flow of money by determined actors. I’ve asked before: what’s the point of the local/foreign definition anyway?

In the end, this leaky IMDA rule only serves to burden upright publications with paperwork, while those who want to disguise payments can easily do so (and they are encouraged to hide their money trails). This is a worse situation all around.

Meanwhile, the G’s war on fake news doesn’t seem interested in addressing this regulatory weakness at all.

 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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Misaligned walkway: ST pulled its punches so hard, it hurt its own face

Oh, I’d like to think that ST’s poor coverage (that pun landed right on my lap) of a badly-aligned walkway in Jurong was just shoddy journalism. Sadly, it looks like it’s their best attempt at a cover-up. It took nearly a year for the project to get done, several residents of the area have told me, but ST dodges that fact and more.

Rulang Primary Jurong West Misaligned Walkway, screenshot from FB.

Check out that headline for a start. Instead of something factual, like “LTA leaves project half-done for nearly a year”, or something gentle like “LTA explanation for covered walkway: it was according to plan”, ST chooses to go instead for “LTA clears up mystery of misaligned sheltered walkway in Jurong West”, which is already watered down from their initial headline “LTA solves mystery…” (see the URL). Wow, way to turn a bad project into a heroic act.

Then, the paper doesn’t even ask the very basic question of how long the walkway has been misaligned. Clearly LTA has the exact date, but noooo, don’t ask them. And don’t ask any long-time residents either. Instead, get a date from a teacher who just joined the school next door in July 2017, and who says that the joke of a walkway was already there when she joined.

And of course, no questions posed to LTA about why social media outcry resulted in the crossing getting fixed in just one day, when it took nearly a year of, what, nobody on the project noticed that something was amiss? Residents not saying anything? Grassroots didn’t raise it to the MP? MP doesn’t walk the ground? (Check the GRC map if you want to know who).

Any other reasons for the year-long delay? How much feedback has LTA received about the walkway since it was built? ST doesn’t even ask these basic questions. For shame.

Meanwhile, PAP propaganda channels are going into overdrive to criticise those that criticised the project. Shoddy journalism opens the door to fake news, but I don’t even know if you could call this shoddy journalism – perhaps more like ass-covering (for which you get the stink of faeces on you), or punches pulled so hard that the paper might as well hit itself in the face.