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Bertha HarianBertha Harian


Question time

News media should alert readers when questions are NOT answered by newsmakers. ST did so with three stories I thought.
Page 1: Far fewer PRs admitted from 2010.
That 30 per cent of applications of Employment and Special passes were turned down in the first six months for this year, up from 26 per cent for the whole of last year. ST added that the minister did not give absolute numbers of applications for both years. Yup, I think people would be more interested in absolute numbers who get in, rather than a percentage of a total that is not made public. In any case, why six months compared to a year? Shouldn’t it be compared over a similar time frame?
Page 2: On what parents want to know about primary education and the ministry’s replies.
It noted that MOE did not “directly’’ answer the question of whether teachers teach curriculum that most of the children already know. I wish though that readers were given the MOE’s answer, to judge how “indirectly’’ this was answered.
Home Page B5: Bill to protect personal data tabled
Today had the fuller story on the penalties etc for someone passing on your personal information, but ST had one line which stuck out: The Bill will not cover government agencies. Eh? So is the Bill to prevent the private sector hounding you with promos and sales only? And the G can willy nilly pass on data? The G is too big a presence in this country. I hope when the Bill comes up for debate, some MPs will ask about how the G uses personal information of citizens.
I’m glad that the media is making references to such matters, even if it is done obliquely. Too often, we read stuff too quickly, absorbing just the facts given and without question. It’s what I call lazy reading. The media should make us pause and reflect as well. Can more be done about newsmakers’ replies to questions? What about the top questioners in the land, parliamentarians?
I was a bit disappointed to NOT read about anyone raising the point about values (not monetary) in the Brompton bike case. Good that everything is being tightended up and so forth, but one big question is whether $2,200 bikes is too much money, never mind the procurement process. And btw, what is this about the “females’’ being the people who requested the foldable bikes? ?? On this topic, I note that Today reported that an internal manual will be updated to “sensitise’’ civil servants on money matters. I wonder what this means. As for MND Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s reply on whether netizens helped in “breaking’’ or “shaping’’ the story…looks to me he was a bit half-hearted. Maybe they might not have broken the story, or given new information, but I should think the degree of public interest and the involvement on the part of the usually apathetic citizen should be applauded and welcomed.
I was, however, interested in NCMP Yee Jenn Jong’s take on whether grants should be given to private pre-school operators, the same way it is given to PCF and NTUC. Particularly, his “finding’’ that while the anchor operators enjoy a cost advantage of $200, the median fees are lower than private operators by just over $200. In other words, strip out the grant and the fees will be just about as much as what private operators judge? Despite their bigger number of skools which should reap some economies of scale?

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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