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The costs and implications of the SPH Media scandal

When news broke that three senior executives at SPH Media have been inflating its circulation data, the whole saga very quickly escalated into becoming a national embarrassment as more Singaporeans started questioning the integrity of those media executives in the media group under SPH Media in whom the People’s Action Party (PAP) government has generously supported despite many objections from Singaporeans who see it as a desperate attempt by the PAP to perpetuate its own political propaganda.

Wong Wei Kong

To make matters worse, when Wong Wei Kong, the editor-in-chief of the publications under SPH Media Trust (SMT), foolishly tried to subsequently narrate that SPH Media has taken a “painful but necessary decision to make public that its past circulation figures were inaccurate”, it gave a false impression that as if it was the one who had disclosed this deception on its own accord when the truth is that this whole saga came to light after Wake Up Singapore (WUSG) reported it.

This goes to show just how insincere its editor-in-chief has been and how SPH Media has no qualms in trying to bend the narrative to play down the whole incident as if Singaporeans and their advertisers are all fools.

Come on Wong, time to come clean and admit that SPH Media was caught with its pants down and stop trying to spin more lies or falsehoods.

If not for WUSG, we would all still be kept in the dark, no?

If the Chairman, CEO, senior executives, editors and journalists at SPH Media can still behave so insincerely and lack the moral courage to come clean, then the whole talk of setting up SMT is looking more like another desperate attempt by the PAP politicians to use tax-payers monies to prolong the longevity of their party rather than for the good of our country.

It is very probable that inflating the circulation data may well be just a part of a wider scandal, and it is best for Singaporeans to brace themselves for more bad news to come.

The Scandal

Before this latest scandal, we have seen many of the 4G PAP politicians actively singing praises of SPH Media so that they can then justify the use of almost a billion dollars of public funds to keep it from sinking into obscurity in the next five years while allowing its previous shareholders and institutional investors like Temasek to discard all their liabilities and walk away from this sinking ship with a handsome profit while the new buyer of its assets gets a “good buy” out of this absurd arrangement.

As the scandal slowly unravels, it is looking like those who had earlier taken Singaporeans for a ride may now find themselves being compromised by this latest scandal as if some bad karma had returned to taunt them.

Up to now, it is totally incomprehensible as to why the leadership at SPH Media has been silent on naming those involved in criminally manipulating circulation data to cheat not only advertisers from the private sector but also our government.

And as almost a billion dollars of public funds has been allocated to support SMT, shouldn’t the new Chairman, CEO and senior management be coming forward to hold a press conference and stop this scandal from escalating needlessly out of control?

Criminalities & Wider Implications

Given the criminalities involved in the deliberate inflation of circulation data and the cheating of advertisers and our government, why has no one from SPH Media lodge any police report so that the Police can act swiftly to prevent those involved from tampering or destroying critical evidence?

But if SPH thinks that they can simply fire those three veterans to avoid making a police report or informing the government, probably thinking that the whole scandal can stay hidden by allowing those three executives have walked into the sunset, then its Chairman and CEO will have a lot of explanation to do.

Besides our government and advertisers who got cheated, how is the authority going to address the manipulation of SPH’s stock price as a result of this scandal?

By keeping quiet for so long, aren’t they all complicit in the crimes that were committed and shouldn’t they be held as liable as those three executives?

Just how deep is the rot?

Ng Yat Chung

For failing to take decisive action, SPH Media has led some Singaporeans to speculate that the stepping down of ex-Lieutenant-General Ng Yat Chung in May 2022 as the former CEO of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) may have been connected to this latest scandal.

Such an allegation is not entirely baseless when one looks at the tremendous amount of effort and resources needed to regularly print so many publications and then subsequently destroying them.

As such, it is hard to believe that the previous senior management did not know or suspect something was terribly wrong at SPH unless everyone was sleeping on their jobs.

It is equally hard to believe that such an elaborate scandal can be pulled off by just three executives without the help of more employees of SPH.

If so, why wasn’t this scandal raised in parliament when Mrs Josephine Teo, the Minister for Communications & Information, was championing for the government to keep SPH Media economically viable by providing it with an enormous annual grant of up to S$180 million and is renewable after the first five years?

Was Josephine aware of this malpractice, or have the former Chairman and CEO kept all these disturbing developments from her?

As such, shouldn’t the former Chairman, CEO and directors be investigated and held liable for this scandalous crime too?

And where did former MCI Iswaran get his data from when he was singing praises of SPH Media’s performance in parliament in May 2022 when stating that “SPH’s overall reach and readership has never been higher as its total circulation rose by 5% between 2017 and 2020”.

In light of this scandal, are those data still credible, and if not, isn’t the parliamentary record also corrupted by this scandal?

Now that the cat is out of the bag, both Josephine and Iswaran ought to consider addressing parliament to retract their earlier glowing statements for SPH Media for otherwise, the whole purpose and function of parliament is nothing but a joke, no?

Who is going to pay for this scandal?

For Mrs Teo, she will have to also address how SPH is going to compensate advertisers who have been cheated, including the government of Singapore, as it does not make sense for SPH Media to own up while the government dip into our reserves to help SPH pay for its financial damages, penalties and liabilities.

Josephine Teo

So it will be interesting to see who will ultimately end up paying for this scandal.

Think about it – if those executives at SPH Media, past and present, can possibly manipulate its data to give a false impression that all is well at SPH, enjoy their lucrative remunerations and benefits all these years but end up cheating both the government and advertisers, by what authority does SPH Media have to fire those involved and not make a public disclosure or make a police report?

Are they above the law to be doing so?

Are they going to pay for all the mess they have created?

As such, pending police investigation, the current senior management of SPH should be held responsible and complicit and not be allowed to destroy or tamper with evidence that may materially implicate them.

It will be interesting to see if Mr K Shanmugam, the Minister for Home Affairs, will have the moral courage and integrity to put the law above the interest of his party by bringing all those responsible for this crime and those who condoned or tried to conceal it to court.

As much of our public fund is at stake, will Mr Lawrence Wong, the Finance Minister, be able to show his political impartiality by convening a public inquiry into this whole scandal and conducting a thorough review as to whether the government should continue to support SMT when its integrity and credibility have been so badly tarnished.

In light of this scandal, isn’t it “cheaper, better & wiser” to fund WUSG instead of SMT?

Importance of check & balance

This latest scandal at SPH is symptomatic of a large problem facing Singapore — the growing lack of transparency and accountability at many of our public and government-linked organizations and the rise of mediocrity over meritocracy.

Think about it – the former CEO of SPH has already sold off our once highly-prized NOL and is now holding the dubious honour of stripping away the assets of SPH and handling them freely to its previous shareholders while getting the government to pump in hundredths of millions just to keep the non-viable part of SPH going annually.

Seriously, what does an ex-paper general like Ng know about the complexities of the media industry where everything is dynamic, unlike the army, where everything can be stripped down to “command & order”.

For shareholders like Temasek, isn’t Ng a very obedient and lucrative asset to cultivate, but at the national level, isn’t he a very costly liability?

Singapore should get rid of all the ex-paper generals and mayors if we truly want to restore meritocracy and get rid of mediocrity.

Without “check & balance”, there is no transparency or accountability to keep mediocrity in check, and when this happens, corruption will very quickly permeate and perverse every facet of the organization and our society.

Question is, are we there yet?

In this aspect, Singapore cannot afford to be caught in one scandal after another but must put in real effort to restore meritocracy, transparency and accountability in every of our public and government-linked entities.

The Hard Truth is that if no real effort is put in to restore transparency and accountability across our public and government-linked entities, then it is only a matter of time before most of these entities will start rotting from the top, no?

In this aspect, the senior executives, past and present, must be held responsible and be charged so that the message is clear – Singapore will not tolerate or allow anyone or any entity to make a mockery of our country, our parliament or our government.

The ball is now in the court of the PAP-led parliamentarians and if nothing is done decisively, then this whole scandal will cause the PAP-led government to lose its integrity and credibility.

So the challenge is, can the PAP politicians implicated by this scandal be able to show their impartialities and put the interest of Singapore and the laws above those of their party?

Patriotic Singaporeans must scrutinize the development of this scandal and hold all those who dare perpetuate or make light of these falsehoods, manipulations and lies to accountability so that we can get rid of useless parliamentarians at the next General Election.

Until the PAP politicians walk their talk and are able to do what is right by the people in a consistent manner, then Singaporeans ought to wise up to the Hard Truth that Singapore deserves better…

 

Joseph Nathan

 

 

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READER COMMENTS BELOW

28 Responses to “The costs and implications of the SPH Media scandal”

  • Asd:

    I think paper general also can’t count properly on paper how to fight war ar how many bullet used and left also don’t know but only know eat decade of free cook house food

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  • dodo:

    Whenever someone caught with pants down, people got things to see. Anyone disagrees ?

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  • Walao eh, say until so serious, even share prices also affected, then must be criminal case liao. Die die must CAD or CPIB investigate one, preferably CPIB cause can got good chance to kenna slap on the wrist.

    What do you think?

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  • Light The Way:

    Politically Outrageous For Ministerial Apology (POFMA)

    Don’t ask for anything more than what ‘corrective measures’ the beleaguered SPH Media had to make in this latest corporate scandal.

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  • only stupid people vote pap:


    If the Chairman, CEO, senior executives, editors and journalists at SPH Media can still behave so insincerely and lack the moral courage to come clean, then the whole talk of setting up SMT is looking more like another desperate attempt by the PAP politicians to use tax-payers monies to prolong the longevity of their party rather than for the good of our country.

    the chairman is pap khaw boon wan. pap khaw boon said this about AHPETC, In Japan, the CEO and board of directors will call a press conference and take a deep bow, and in the good old days, they may even commit hara-kiri. we expect to see pap khaw boon wan, the pap umbrage fatty, and the board of directors to call a press conference and take a deep bow and commit hara-kiri.

    in lky days, lky would ensure that the hara-kiri take place immediately. under pap clown, lky useless son, everyone says pap clown is waiting for wife facebook post before deciding to take action or not.

    btw S$900m is sinkies money which pap folks have lied about to dish out to pap khaw boon wan organization which includes pap umbrage ng beside others.

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  • xoxo:

    You are completely right.
    Cant but agrèe.
    They need to be slapped hard.
    Too much lameness around these days.
    Even raiding reserves to squander in the name of saving jobs?
    Cant they cut the big fat paycheck$ of those high-salaried execuTHIEVE$?
    Ordinary CITIZENS treated worse than FTs and worthy of $600 ONLY plus some vouchers.
    Why not give FTs vouchers n cut their salaries.

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  • Don't treat us as fools:

    PAP times write many news in favor of PAP politicians and they thought they can fool us. People now have internet and smartphone can read news in many places and they are reading for free. So their plan to make us pay for their PAP times, sure fail. Young people are not so naive like those old people to believe everything PAP times write. Soon or later, all these reporters who write PAP times for PAP will be expose that they write in favor of PAP. They will pay for manipulating Singaporeans with their biased PAP view. Already, they asked for money from government. They will have to close down in future because Singaporeans will not believe them anymore or buy their news. Every time news like FTX cannot be cover up, then they report it, think we don’t know. I understand eat government, hand soft. But they are reporters, they must have the reporter spirit. They should not write news in favor of PAP. They should write for the people.

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  • Light The Way:

    The take of an ex-Army General who sank 2 ships.

    Quite a feat eh? Must be from long range land-based artillery bombardment.

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  • I used to ...:

    I used to trust SPH. Many very high level persons say you can trust SPH. If it is reported by SPH, it must be true.

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  • Absurdity:

    Eight days have passed, why SPH still did not put THEIR OWN NEWS in the headlines? The leaders only have two ways out. Either come up with more news in other categories to distract the public attention from SPH very soon, or silence the whole episode in parliament run by the coward majority.

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  • pap nonperforming liars:


    For Mrs Teo, she will have to also address how SPH is going to compensate advertisers who have been cheated, ….

    Has anyone ever seen pap own up to its faults?

    Can sinkies say no to pap abusing S$180m per year for 5 years in pap SPH?

    Where is the pap selected INDIAN malay president?

    Why hasn’t a single pap MP made any comments on the SPH fraud?

    Do sinkies really believe SPH chairman khaw boon wan will call a press conference, take a bow and commit hara-kiri?

    When dealing with pap, the obvious answers are NO, because pap as a clan of multi millionaires does not really bother with anything any sinkie raises. Not before. Not now. Not ever after.

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  • liew mun leong is not jailed:


    …, it is hard to believe that the previous senior management did not know or suspect something was terribly wrong at SPH unless everyone was sleeping on their jobs.

    The PAP member liew mun leong lied to public prosecutors. In kDramas, for sure a few goodmen and goodwomen in South Korea public prosecutor office shall have done all the good work to put such a liar in jail. In real life in South Korea, even ex presidents are put into jail. Alas. PAP Singapore is not at the same level of integrity as South Korea.

    Liew Mun Leong is not jailed although he lied to public prosecutors in PAP Singapore in order to fix his maid.

    Back to SPH fraud. There is zero chance to see any PAP MP or SPH journalist or PAP minister or PAP President to do the right thing here because SPH chairman at time of fraud is PAP member khaw boon wan and SPH ceo at time of fraud is PAP paper general fatty ng.

    Sinkies live in a society run by a group of thieves who in broad daylight daringly show sinkies how to commit rot and continue to be very rich.

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  • Billy ma:

    Don’t expect any apology or ‘we’re sorry’.

    Instead expect lhl to make another of his very familiar grand statement to close the case.
    ‘It had happened. We did not want it to happen, but it did. So lets talk about it a little then let’s move on. Nothing to see here’

    It sounds shameless but that’s the way it is. That’s what you get when ones holds absolute power.

    Let’s not cry over this too much.
    More of the same will happen again & again.
    And there’re very likely even more terrible things happening & had happened that are kept in hidden vaulted cemetery somewhere.

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  • Trash:

    It goes to show that govt sponsored media should no longer be swallowed wholesale. Fortunately, TREmeritus which they tried so hard to suppress is indeed the beacon of truth.

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  • righteous lecture:

    //Do sinkies really believe SPH chairman khaw boon wan will call a press conference, take a bow and commit hara-kiri?//

    aiyoh, the high-horse self-serving righteous lecture is meant to apply for others BUT NOT themselves lar ??? when it comes to themselves KAKI LANG GANG, they will most likely come up with some ‘clever’ statement (sometimes with confusing big ‘twisted’ words OR jargons or fallacies in between ???) to siam (excuse ??) themselves hoping to fool / awe those big-eyed uninitiated daft sinkies ????

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  • SINGAROAR:

    Mr. Nathan, an excellent article which would have brought in a response and action from law enforcement agencies in First World states. Singapore’s First World states is only reflected in its GDP and it’s glimmering buildings and it’s roads and MRTs. The Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches are not separated in our State. They are most likely held in the hands of the husband and wife. KBW has caused Singaporeans pain and loss in his handling of the HDB and SPH. He spoke about harakiri, sometime back. Perhaps he can save his honour by practising what he preached.We will otherwise have to have hope in the dengue mosquitos. JT should give immediate notice to SPH that all funding is terminated and work towards selling assets of SPH to recover monies given to them .

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  • Ah Ha:

    For me it will be interesting what the “opposition,” has to say about this. Clearly it has more potential to garner public support than the quality time spent on insect eating. Any real political party in opposition could turn this into a real vote generator, we’ll see.

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  • numbers guy:

    Funny how the article mentions 5 times that our government was cheated (and the advertisers of course). I find it hard to see the government as a victim in Sinkieland.

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  • John Richards:

    How to be tough on these criminals when the man at the top has a limp wrist?

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  • khaw has lied about hara-kiri:

    SINGAROAR:
    … KBW has caused Singaporeans pain and loss in his handling of the HDB and SPH. He spoke about harakiri, sometime back. Perhaps he can save his honour by practising what he preached….

    PAP folks all talk only. None has any honour. Don’t expect khaw boon wan to honour what he said. khaw ain’t going to do what he himself said.

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  • pap a clan of liars w/o honour:

    SINGAROAR:
    JT should give immediate notice to SPH that all funding is terminated and work towards selling assets of SPH to recover monies given to them .

    just like khaw, the woman ain’t honourable enough to do the right things. she said, why should I when I am paid so much more than the stupid sinkies who voted me into my ministar position.

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  • Con u wakes up from grave:

    LKY one said that if he was in being lowered into his grave he will get up if things go wrong for Singapore. He MUST BE TURNING IN HIS ASHES NOW.

    He also said whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him.Or give it up.This is not a game of cards.

    It sickens me to see that the calibre of our leaders are SOOOO LOW. They push all responsiblity to someone in the lower rugs of the ladder. People close to the PAP are let off easily when a crim is commited,the ordinary guy commiting a crime gets the full force of the law. The three executives from Keppel only got a warning. The TOP MANAGEMENT DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE BRIBING. Who are they trying to fool,the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. SPH lying to the public about Straits Times readership. PAP MP Christopher de Souza FOUND GUILTY OF PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCTOVER CLIENT’S SUPPRESSION OF EVIDENCE.

    All those SHOWS THAT PAP and the people they appoint to top positions LACK INTEGRITY AND ARE MORALY CORRUPT.

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  • Con u wakes up from grave:

    Khaw if you have the BALLS and not talking COCK have the three senior executives yourself and FATTY UMBRAG NG commit HARA KERI.

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  • Con u wakes up from grave:

    Khaw looking at you or the mention of your name make me sick. You are just a FUCKING HYPOCRATE.YOU NEVER PRACTISE WHAT YOU PREACH.

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  • SINGAROAR:

    @khaw has lied about hara-kiri:

    We will have to wait for the dengue mosquito to do a harakiri for us. Yio Chu Kang usually has dengue infestation.

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  • only stupid people vote pap:

    Con u wakes up from grave:
    Khaw if you have the BALLS and not talking COCK have the three senior executives yourself and FATTY UMBRAG NG commit HARA KERI.

    khaw is from penang. he didn’t even have the balls to do NS. he is just the typical msian small ball liar. BTW before khaw and sph gang can commit hara-kiri, they must first call a press conference to apologize and bow their heads to sinkies repenting their fraud. because khaw is msian, there is zero chance any msian will have the integrity to do what is right.

    this, we are very sure because pap island is filled to the brim with msians whom we see daily all lying and cheating sinkies. YES. everyday the millions of msians in pap island, admitted into pap island by pap, are lying to sinkies and cheating sinkies. Every ffffing day.

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  • SINGAROAR:

    @pap a clan of liars w/o honour:

    A govt. must act in the interest of the State and People. However since the PAP want to keep holding onto power, it compromises citizens’ interests with its own. If JT is working for the State and Citizens the notice would have been given but then the PAP would be losing a political tool if they shut down SPH. So she is unable to act. Jalan Besar constituents should help themselves and the State by voting JT out of office.

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  • Trust only myself:

    What’s wrong with lying when they can get away with it…………..the people deserves it.

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