This is a conversation with old buddy Unsu Lee and newer one Douglas Evans about media, censorship, diversity, propaganda and democracy. Thanks for having me on your show guys! Was lots of fun.And of course, thanks a lot to Min-Wei Ting, the man behind the camera. Copy from Breaking the Spell: “Why Care About Media and Democracy in Singapore? A Conversation with Sudhir Vadaketh When … Continue reading Media and democracy: A video podcast with Breaking the Spell
For the first time since 2004, Team Singapore failed to win a single medal at the Olympics. Much attention understandably focussed on swimmer Joseph Schooling, who had won our first ever gold at Rio 2016, for the 100m butterfly, setting an Olympic record in the process. Following Schooling’s failure to qualify for the 100m semi-final at Tokyo 2020, finishing last in his heat, internet commentaries … Continue reading Did we support, criticise or abuse Schooling? Let’s look at the data
(Disclosure: both my parents are medical specialists; my wife has a graduate diploma in family medicine though she no longer practices.)
Over the past week an interesting informational contest has emerged in Singapore over the publication of an open letter by twelve doctors to parents in which they cast doubt on the value of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine—and broadly any vaccine that relies on messenger RNA technology—to children.
Their letter has been meet with ridicule by the establishment, including calls by Calvin Cheng, a former nominated member of parliament and conservative commentator, for their medical licenses to be revoked (as part of his broader critique of the knowledge and expertise of family physicians).Continue reading “Is the doctors’ letter fair opinion? Or a dangerous view that should be kept out of the public square?”
Today we heard the news that Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is spinning off its media unit, including The Straits Times and many other publications, into a non-profit entity. This follows years of consistently poor performance amid digital disruption and other changes to the media industry.
Wiser minds will engage in more thorough post-mortems—has anybody seen Ho Ching’s feed today?—but I wanted to spark a small conversation on the culture of elite governance in Singapore.
“If not for the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), the loss would have been a deeper S$39.5 million,” Lee Boon Yang, SPH’s chairman, said in reference to the media business’s first-ever lost of S$11.4m, for the financial year which ended Aug 31 2020.
(Which includes management salaries. In case you missed it, since the JSS began in February 2020, the Singaporean taxpayer has helped pay even more for the upkeep of numerous millionaire elites.)
All this got me thinking. Why exactly is Lee Boon Yang the chairman of SPH?Continue reading “The elites have run The Straits Times into the ground. What’s next?”
“…in today’s world it’s getting easier with the gig economy and freelance or contract worker or independent worker isn’t such a bad word anymore for some people but it was certainly difficult… but I was also so energized. So I think it wasn’t just nerves, I think this is the interesting thing about any journey, at the same time there’s this sense of excitement about … Continue reading My appearance on the Brave Dynamics podcast
Note: Amid this flight from the Facebook/WhatsApp empire, a quick note that I also have a Telegram channel: SudhirTV.
It has been a fun, fulfilling, rewarding year being a writer and commentator in Singapore. Thanks so much for following my work. I’m feeling more enthusiastic about Singapore’s social, political and literary climate than I ever have. It’s a terribly exciting time to be living and working here.
Nevertheless, I thought it might be good to spend some time going over some of the hurdles independent writers here face, something that I’m regularly asked about.
So, treat this for what it is, a reflective, end-of-year piece for the benefit of readers and young writers in Singapore interested not only in the product but the process.Continue reading “Ups and Downs of writing in the pandemic year”
This past week I ventured into uncharted territory: asking for, and accepting, contributions from companies.
Read on if you want to understand the editorial safeguards I have tried to put in place to maintain my independence and integrity, crucial for my relationship with you, dear reader.
Dear friends, supporters, viewers,
Following the modest success of my GE2020 videos, many of you have asked me to keep producing written and video content on Singapore. And the assorted social media gurus in my life have told me I need to keep up “engagement” and what not. Thanks so much for the support.
Well, unfortunately, I am soon going to retreat into my writing shell. I must finish my China-India book, which is almost done. But I’ll probably need another four to five months at least, perhaps more. Aside from the odd post about food or my unwashed hoodie, you won’t hear from me regularly during this time.
CORRECTION: In the video I say that K Shanmugam was in parliament in 1987. This is wrong. He entered parliament in 1988. So Shanmugam was only part of parliamentary proceedings related to the alleged “Marxist conspiracy” in those subsequent two years. The last prisoner was released in mid 1990. Apologies.
Additional reading and video notes
At a high level, I want to note that there are many critiques of POFMA out there. Some critics have always believed that no new law is needed, since Singapore’s government already has a panoply of instruments to control speech, like libel and sedition laws, and licensing laws for media outlets and online sites.
While I sympathise with their views, my sense has always been that some new law may be needed to tame a new beast. For sure, as a writer, I consider the proliferation of falsehoods online to be one of the biggest threats to my profession, to democracy, and to our common humanity.
This is why I began the video with The Financial Times and Sarah Palin. Online falsehoods are everywhere. Read critically. There is no better answer to our crisis than those two words.
In response to a recent NYT piece, “A Sudden Coronavirus Surge Brought Out Singapore’s Dark Side”. I am glad to see others taking the time to write about us, there is always something to learn. Nevertheless, if you allow me to put on my editor’s hat for a moment, I have two thematic critiques of the piece: A) Feeding the impression that Singapore is an … Continue reading Response to NYT piece on Singapore