Fake news, but are the issues raised real?


I refer to the article “‘Fake news’ report: Author says that he did not make up controversial comments” (Straits Times, Aug 31).

It states that “The author of an article containing statements that Ministry of Education (MOE) has branded as “fake news” maintains that they had not been made up, while acknowledging that he might have attributed them to the wrong person.

In a statement on Wednesday (Aug 30) published on the website of EducationHQ Australia, Mr Walter Barbieri, a freelance contributor to the site, apologised but stood by the remarks reported in his article: “I wrote the article in good faith and did not intend to cause any offence. I maintain that the words quoted were delivered at the conference, and convey my genuine apologies if I have attributed them to the wrong speaker.”

Mr Barbieri’s widely-shared article, published in the August issue of Australian Teacher Magazine, which comes under EducationHQ, had quoted MOE director-general of education Wong Siew Hoong as telling an international conference here in May that Singapore is “building compliant students just as the jobs that value compliance are beginning to disappear”.”

Instead of just harping on the “wrong attribution to the speaker” as fake news  – perhaps we should take a hard look as to whether the issues that were raised are real and arguably, significant?

In this connection, are there any statistics to indicate that our graduates may be losimg out in the jobs market due to their “compliance”?

Well, if you look at the employment growth statistics – it may indicate that Singaporean workers may be losing out to foreign workers (less “compliant”?) – in the two years from 2015 to 2016 – it is estimated that almost none of the 11,400 jobs growth (37,300  foreigners’ jobs growth) to locals – actually went to Singapore born true-blue Singaporeans (61,005 new PRs and 42,917 new citizens granted in the same two-year period).

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.