Sometimes you have to read every newspaper to get the full works on some things. Even then, it might not be enough.
For example, TNP reported that the expat who went berserk at the construction job near his home has left his Barclays job. BT quoted a bank source saying that he was sacked. So yet another Amy Cheong episode? Actually, that’s not what people would be interested in. Is he STILL living there at Wimborne Road and making noises?
For example, ST reported that Stephen Forshaw who is Temasek’s spokesman will be taking the top communications job at SMRT. Yesterday’s Today said this wasn’t a confirmed thing. Perils of relying on sources when something isn’t yet black and white….
Anyway, that’s smallish stuff. What I found interesting was the way ex-top civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow was reported in both ST and Today. ST tucked him away in the bowels of its Home pages while Today had him on Page 1.
I read ST first as is my usual habit and was intrigued by what was reported of his speech at a dialogue on Higher Education. He said that academics should be playing a bigger part in national life as civil servants tend to focus on the “output’’ of policies rather than “outcomes’’. They should be critiquing (not criticising) policies and, as they are not part of the executive, they have the capacity to think long-term. He was also reported saying in ST that he thinks too many grads are being churned out. But not why.
So I turned to Today to find out more – and I got more. Including academics reacting to his suggestion that they play a bigger role in asking the right questions of the State rather than sticking to theorising in an ivory tower. This is wonderful. I so agree that academics should be part of the conversation, asking more fundamental questions that will help Singapore in the long-term. But, predictably, we read that the academics wonder if they could or should. Some are foreigners (which I suppose would lay them open to accusations of interfering in domestic politics). Some say they might not have all the information needed (which I suppose is a reference to a couple of economists who “misspoke’’ on the issue of pay and foreign workers a few years ago and got hammered). Some wonder if this is what the university authorities really want or how their peers would regard them venturing out of the purely academic realm.
Funny. Mr Ngiam is the NUS pro-chancellor – and academics are having mixed feelings? Then again, I don’t blame them. Mr Ngiam told reporters (this is in Today) that he thought law student Alvin Tan should be expelled – “bloody joker’’, Mr Ngiam called him. Maybe, he should get the NUS to say what punishment it meted out to the student….I mean, what’s the point of being pro-Chancellor if you can’t get your people to talk as straight as you do….