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Kena Pluck! Cluck! Cluck!

Sheesh! Looks like everybody’s got to be careful about what they say. Online, in print and on air. Even a programme titled Kena Pluck can find itself plucked clean. So the Singapore Press Holdings group has decided to divorce the Married Men. Apparently because of one written complaint. The power of the pen! The Media Development Authority didn’t even have to intervene for SPH to nullify the marriage, citing contract terms.

I thought Kena Pluck has been around for some time, and it’s probably in the same vein as several television items like Gotcha! I guess SPH didn’t find the spoof funny – someone posing as an embassy official telling someone else how children should be treated. I didn’t hear the programme but I chuckled on reading the newspaper report: Only beat poor children whose parents can’t engage a lawyer; and do favours for officials to get a visa quickly.

The prank, according to SPH, was “indefensible’’. For good measure, it cited an incident of a suicide in Australia which was a result of a radio station’s telephone prank. Ooh. That sounds real serious – I wish I was told more about that Australian case. Is it worried that the woman who took the call will do likewise? Surely not. Or is it because it seemed distasteful, casting rich parents in bad light and officials amenable to being offered “favours’’?

Methinks the action taken was too drastic. Hasn’t the Married Men been around for a long time? Has the programme faced similar “incidents’’ in the past? Have the presenters ever been warned? Do they have a poor record of distasteful pranks? A sacking, which is what it is, seems too big punishment.

The Manpower ministry is also clucking away.

It wants Alex Au to take down his post because he was disparaging about the way the ministry treated the case of a Bangladeshi worker who got injured two and half years ago. Cluck! Cluck! I don’t want to go into the details like whether the worker was harassed or not, but the main issue seems to be why the poor fellow had to hang around for so long in his bid for a resolution. (MOM says his case was an exception). Also, what recourse the worker has besides taking his employer to court on his own dime (although I gather he will have financial help if he does so) and in his own name?

I think that would take guts. The worker, after all, is a foreigner dependent on official sanction to continue his stay here. The other point that Mr Au raised deserves attention: insurance for foreign workers. So the employer has or doesn’t have valid insurance? And what about the big picture: Do all employers of foreign workers have such insurance for them?
In light of the SMRT strike or sit-in or whatever you want to call it involving Chinese bus drivers, we might want to take a hard look at the protection of foreign workers, even while we want to scale down their numbers.

Mr Au, no chicken, has issued a riposte. He ain’t taking down the post and is sticking to his position. So we’re looking at a staring contest? Or can we expect another love letter to fly into the blogosphere?

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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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