Straits Times Fail 03: Heavily Modifying Your Opinions

UPDATE: The Straits Times responded! Here it is: ST’s justification of its liberal editing of Forum opinions.

I’ve always had a soft spot for The Straits Times. They have a wonderful habit of manipulating statistics and distorting people’s opinions. But I thought they were still pretty alright. They’ve outdone themselves this time, though. Behold:

Letter sent by by my good friend Samuel C. Wee to ST on the 8th of March, quoting statistics from their Page One infographic: (Read this closely!)

I read with keen interest the news that social mobility in Singapore’s education system is still alive and well (“School system still ‘best way to move up'”; Monday).

It is indeed heartwarming to learn that only 90% of children from one-to-three-room flats do not make it to university.

I firmly agree with our Education Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen, who declared that “education remains the great social leveller in Singaporean society”. His statement is backed up with the statistic that 50% of children from the bottom third of the socio-economic ladder score in the bottom third of the Primary School Leaving Examination.

In recent years, there has been much debate about elitism and the impact that a family’s financial background has on a child’s educational prospects. Therefore, it was greatly reassuring to read about Dr Ng’s great faith in our “unique, meritocratic Singapore system”, which ensures that good, able students from the middle-and-high income groups are not circumscribed or restricted in any way in the name of helping financially disadvantaged students.

I would like to commend Ms Rachel Chang on her outstanding article. On behalf of the financially disadvantaged students of Singapore, I thank the fine journalists of the Straits Times for their tireless work in bringing to Singaporeans accurate and objective reporting.

What was actually published last Friday, March 18th 2011

A reassuring experience of meritocratic system

I READ with keen interest the news that social mobility in Singapore’s education system is still alive and well (‘School system still ‘best way to move up”; March 8).

It is indeed heartwarming to learn that almost 50 per cent of children from one- to three-room flats make it to university and polytechnics.

I firmly agree with Education Minister Ng Eng Hen, who said that education remains the great social leveller in Singapore society.

His statement is backed by the statistic that about 50 per cent of children from the bottom third of the socio-economic bracket score within the top two-thirds of their Primary School Leaving Examination cohort.

There has been much debate about elitism and the impact that a family’s financial background has on a child’s educational prospects. Therefore, it was reassuring to read about Dr Ng’s own experience of the ‘unique, meritocratic Singapore system': he grew up in a three-room flat with five other siblings, and his medical studies at the National University of Singapore were heavily subsidised; later, he trained as a cancer surgeon in the United States using a government scholarship.

The system also ensures that good, able students from the middle- and high-income groups are not circumscribed or restricted in any way in the name of helping financially disadvantaged students.

“Does this count has having been published in the Straits Times? I’m not quite sure what to think. After all, I can’t really take credit for this! To give me the byline would be an outrageous flattery and a gross injustice to the forum editors of ST, who took the liberty of taking my observations about the statistics and subtly replacing them with more politically correct (but significantly and essentially different) statistics.

Of course, ST reserves the right to edit my letter for clarity and length. When said statistics in question were directly taken from their original article, though, one has to wonder if there hasn’t been a breakdown in communication over there. I’m dreadfully sorry, forum editors, I should have double-checked my original source (your journalist Ms Rachel Chang) before sending my letter.

Then there are instances of editing work that just makes you want to give a standing ovation: take a look at how my pride in our meritocratic system in my originally letter has been transfigured into awe at Dr Ng’s background, for example! Dear friends, when an editor takes the time and effort to not just paraphrase but completely and utterly transform your piece in both intent and meaning, then what can we say but bravo.

There are surely no lazy slackers over at the Straits Times; instead we have evidently men and women who dedicate time and effort to correct their misguided readers, and protect them from the shame of having their real opinions published.

It makes me angry to think of how these fine journalists, servants of the public good, are routinely abused by ignorant Netizens for coming in 136th in the worldwide press freedom rankings! Yet they take the criticism, the vitriol and venom constantly directed towards them without once complaining. Oh, the nobility.

That straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back for me? Notice how in my original letter I dedicated a whole paragraph to saluting these gentlemen and ladies… And yet, not a trace of praise and commendation found in the published letter! The modesty, the humility to censor from the public eye praise for your own work, knowing that the true journalist works not for recognition but for the inherent reward of serving the public… My friends, it brings a tear to my eye.”

EDIT: Here’s evidence of Sam’s statistics, straight from the horse’s mouth:

http://www.straitstimes.com/STI/STIMEDIA/pdf/20110308/a10.pdf

The Saga Continues:

Straits Times Fail 01: Statistical Manipulation

Straits Times Fail 02: Watering Down Your Opinions

Straits Times Fail 03: Heavily Modifying Your Letters

Straits Times Fail 04: Weak Justification For Modifying Letters

Straits Times Fail 05: Same Old Shit Again

 

About Visakan Veerasamy

I work at ReferralCandy, write at PoachedMag and blog at... here. This is my blog. You can find me on Twitter at @visakanv. I deactivated my Facebook account a while ago because the noise was too much for me to handle. How does this authorship nonsense work?
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74 Responses to Straits Times Fail 03: Heavily Modifying Your Opinions

  1. Xavier says:

    What the fuck. This is just fucked up, myeng. Those people at ST are really intelligent assholes. They know how to throw the finger right back at you under your own name. Brilliant. Love it.

    Initially as I read this post I was thinking of how the editors were a bunch of sniveling rats afraid to publish truth saturated in a bowl of sarcasm. Then I put myself in their shoes, and thought it incredibly unlikely. Afterall, they can’t be that stupid. ‘If I was in charge of a published forum and had authority to alter any such submissions with impunity, without recourse of protest by the sender, what would I do? What would be the most awesome thing I could do if some prick (subjective to them, obviously) wrote in sarcastically, under HIS OWN NAME to besmirch the corporation I’m working for? Am I going to let this glory hound get away? Am I going to just *not* post it and let him tell his friends how we’re a bunch of pansies and let him get brownie points?

    This is simply – admirably – a troll on your friend of great subtlety. You just can’t see it unless you look past your sense of outrage of free speech being stifled. It has – but that isn’t the point. The editors fully understand how such a gesture would be interpreted by the ‘smartass’ who wrote in. They’re not dumb. You can’t be dumb and distort statistics to such a degree. Then you see the other side of the moon. And it is funny. Boy, is it funny.

    Good troll, ST people. They’re not distorting your friend’s opinion, Visa. If they wanted to present false statistics they could just write something else and bullshit their way through, like they (seem to you) to have always done. Instead, they fucked your friend with his own dildo. I’d say they chose the best option available to them.

    I mean, what could they have done – refuted their own claims? Go against the political and social agenda of the greater interests at stake?

    Haha, nah. Fuck you. Eat shit. Get trolled.

  2. Xavier says:

    Long story short: Your outrage is funny to them. And it would be, if I were them. I mean, this is just awesome.

    *high five*

  3. Xavier says:

    what is your msn address lol most redundant comment ever

  4. Pingback: Straits Times does hack job on forum letter? | The Online Citizen

  5. Jeffrey Yen says:

    Hmm… there is a simple explanation for this? The original stat given in the ST was incorrect/a typo, as implied from here.
    http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC110308-0000208/Education-system-should-lift-the-tide-for-all-Sporeans

    So the correct number is 50% which should have been published all along. Quite reasonable I think. (Whether the stat given is actually correct or valid is another story, however.)

    • visaisahero says:

      5o% to Universities and Polytechnics.
      10% to Universities.

      The simplest explanation I can think of is as follows- ST staff try to publish what people say, but they also feel obliged to avoid “rocking the boat unnecessarily”, and somewhere along the line, things get garbled up.

  6. sgcynic says:

    I certainly would like to hear the simple explanation on why the Straits Times inserted a whole chunk of text that changed the orginal content communication of the letter. Perhaps the inserted text which were not the forum contributor’s should have been published all along?

    A suggestion: the Straits Times can get forum letter writers to register their names under a new service where the paper will take care of everything by simply writing and publishing the writers’ letters on their behalf. Cheaper, better, faster…

  7. defennder says:

    visaisahero

    I don’t get it where the stat for 10% of those living in 1-3 room flats making it to University came from. Is there some source which says that?

  8. wl says:

    The chart shown on the MOE website showed that both parties are correct. While the letter writer focussed on the group going to the university, the ST decided that the statistics pointing to a larger proportion going to the polytechnics and the universities made more positive reading. By restating a fact in the letter, the ST changed the tone entirely. Also putting in new statements and attributing that to the letter writer was downright dishonest. Overall this is morally reprehensible.

  9. Nic says:

    Do you have any proof that your friend Samuel Wee indeed sent in that letter? Because, if not, then all we are doing is speculation. After seeing all the uproar about this, I looked around but all I could find at the end of it is just a claim that “I sent THIS in, but Straits Times published THAT”.

    I do understand that he probably didn’t expect this to happen, and consequently didn’t bother doing any documentation. But without that, then this is just an accusation. I’m ready to gun down ST or politics anytime. But more than that, I want to see it being done fairly and systematically. All that I see being done here (so far) is empty claims without any concrete evidence.

    Could you prove me wrong?

    • sgcynic says:

      Agree with your request, but I’m ready to be kind and accept the accusation at face value since I already hear Mah Bow Tan’s empty claims about HDB market subsidy, LKY’s empty claims about having to replace half of our roads with drains, GIC and Temasek Holdings’ empty claims about recouping our losses… Then again, we wouldn’t be so eager to believe in accusations if not for the organizations’ track record.

      • Nic says:

        You’re basing your distrust of the Straits Times on the empty claims of the representatives of the political party? I can accept that you link the two organizations (ST and PAP) together, but even so I see this as quite a far association.

        Politician makes an empty claim (actually this is a good point for discussion but I’ll leave it out since it’s not the focus here) -> Therefore the political party cannot be trusted -> Therefore the news agency that supports that political party cannot be trusted

        I liken this to

        Chairman of NTUC has a scandal, perhaps has a high profile adultery case or something -> Therefore NTUC cannot be trusted -> Therefore the cashier cannot be trusted

        Perhaps an exeggerated example, but I’m using this as an analogy to demonstrate what I mean. I, too, feel that the current government could use more transparency. However, what the government does is a different issue. I would like to see a clear, concise and supported track history of Straits Times’ distortion of letters, failing which, Straits Times’ distortion and misrepresentation of quotes and speeches; failing which, Straits Times’ track history of skewed presentation of facts, and how this (1) demonstrates that they will edit passages for their benifit and (2) how this differs from other major news publications around the world, which largely have to put a spin on articles to hit a target audience.

        I’m well aware how that last bit will play out, but it’s just that I have this feeling that I won’t really be seeing the evidence or even circumstantial evidence that I’m looking for so that will be the next best alternative.

      • sgcynic says:

        Thank you for agreeing that the PAP makes empty claims, actually, to be precise, it’s called misleading (an polite euphemism).

        Of course I am not daft to make baseless associations. These organizations did earn their reputation over time you know.

        Here’s some examples of how our “nation building press” went out of their way to find the right “balance” in “accurate” news reporting.

        http://mrwangsaysso.blogspot.com/2009/04/arent-they-quick-to-change-their.html

        http://www.mrbrown.com/blog/2008/02/make-up-your-mi.html

      • sgcynic says:

        Thank you for agreeing that the PAP makes empty claims, actually, to be precise, it’s called misleading (an polite euphemism).

        Of course I am not daft to make baseless associations. These organizations did earn their reputation over time you know.

        Here’s some examples of how our “nation building press” went out of their way to find the right “balance” in “accurate” news reporting.

        mrwangsaysso.blogspot.com/2009/04/arent-they-quick-to-change-their.html

        http://www.mrbrown.com/blog/2008/02/make-up-your-mi.html

      • Nic says:

        You’re welcome. I think I should be candid with you and let you also know that I feel that all governments give what you call “misleading”. They have to. It’s just to what degree, and how the good work that they actually do balances it out. I’m not gonna debate this here, though. Just that I feel that we should be clear on this.

        It is strange but I seem to recall posting something about those links but I don’t seem to be able to find it. It appears that wordpress comments are not suitable for the purpose of discussion.

    • visaisahero says:

      Well you could always chat him up on Facebook and meet him (he’s a friendly, outgoing chap) and ask to see his Sent messages! Mine’s still in my Gmail (the one about misleading statistics regarding the performance of students from private housing)

      • Nic says:

        Visaisahero, thanks! I’ll ask him about that then. Yeah, that’s what I was looking for. Incidentally, you might want to post screenshots of the sent message up if you can. I can’t be the only one questioning the authenticity of this. Of course, anyone can always claim it’s photoshopped or faked but yeah, it does help to dispel claims.

        Incidentally, has this situation happened before? I seem to vaguely remember something like this happening in the past but it’s quite fuzzy to me now.

        sgcynic, thanks for the links. I’ve seen the first one before, but not the second one. They’re both pretty interesting. I guess I should rephrase my request though, I realize it wasn’t all that clear- what I was looking for is past evidence of ST actually putting words into people’s mouths. We’ve long since known that ST is skewed, and ST writes things in a pro-establishment manner. I use it as a barometer of how the government wants things to be seen. But if ST is actually changing facts, then that would bother me quite a bit.

      • sgcynic says:

        You are welcome.

        We all know the way the main stream media skewed perspectives in their news reports. So we are not beyond believing their capability to do this sort of thing (distort and misrepresent). Yet to finally come across it is still incredulous and an affront to ethics and morality and I use it as another barometer or indicator of the extent things are become worse in our “system”.

        There is no dispute that Singapore has come a long way since its indepence, credit going to the first and second generation of leaders and the people. Yet I hold the belief that we have plateaued and in fact have long since started the glacial decline, perhaps accelerating our slide. The numerous “slip ups” and corresponding lack of responsibility and accountability inconsistent with the high renumerations are mounting. Have we reached a threshold?

        There is no lack of empirical and annecdotal evidence of the wrongs in our society. We do not expect perfection but we do hope to learn and improve, and this definitely will not come about without a willingness of leaders to own responsibility and worse whitewash and skew information and facts.

  10. Xavier says:

    ‘I certainly would like to hear the simple explanation on why the Straits Times inserted a whole chunk of text that changed the orginal content communication of the letter. Perhaps the inserted text which were not the forum contributor’s should have been published all along?’ – sgcynic

    You’re asking the wrong person at the wrong place. Try writing in to the Straits Times for clarification. Hurp Hurp Durp.

    ‘Also putting in new statements and attributing that to the letter writer was downright dishonest. Overall this is morally reprehensible.’ – wl

    No, it is funny. It’s kind of mean for them to do so, but dear Samuel wasn’t exactly nice in his sarcasm saturated tone either. Ok, no. He was clearly, unambiguously insulting them.

    The honest thing to do, I suppose, would be to admit that they had made an error, or had deliberately fucked around with stats to support an inaccurate stand on education among low income little people. If that was ‘indeed’ the case (given statistics and their much vaulted ability to be fucked-around-with, it is entirely possible that neither Samuel nor ST people have the correct view of the picture. Whatever)

    However, Samuel was being mean. And ST DOES have the right to alter the letters to suit their purposes. It says so, clearly, in their terms and policies or whatever it is that passes for them. When you write in, you forfeit your claim to the contents of your letter. Or some shit like that.

    So if some dickhead wrote in a sarcastic letter which would have no benefit but would DISCREDIT me if I published it, and if I had the power to alter it however I wanted, the obvious, most funny thing to do would be to alter it and leave it under HIS name. Which is what they have done. Which is awesome.

    They could have ignored it. They could have simply ignored it, and then published something else reflecting the more ‘accurate’ stats and implications. Those would have been rational courses of action. They could have done so, and Samuel could have gone on to tell his friends how ST doesn’t publish the truth, how they are information manipulating fucks who are screwing with people’s perception of reality….but ST didn’t ignore him. They went ahead and exaggerated it. They fucked with Samuel. And it is glorious. I am proud of them for doing so. Very proud. It shows the ST editors have intelligence. And a sense of humor.

    But mostly, they have a sense of humor. God bless their souls. Thank you for playing, Samuel. Remember that The House always wins.

    ‘Do you have any proof that your friend Samuel Wee indeed sent in that letter? Because, if not, then all we are doing is speculation. After seeing all the uproar about this, I looked around but all I could find at the end of it is just a claim that “I sent THIS in, but Straits Times published THAT”.

    I do understand that he probably didn’t expect this to happen, and consequently didn’t bother doing any documentation. But without that, then this is just an accusation. I’m ready to gun down ST or politics anytime. But more than that, I want to see it being done fairly and systematically. All that I see being done here (so far) is empty claims without any concrete evidence.

    Could you prove me wrong?’

    Lol. Sure you are. Sure you are ready to gun down ST or politics. You go, gunslinger. Bang bang bang.

    Because we know that as soon as someone gives you the HARD CONCRETE evidence that ST manipulated information…it’s Jihad time for you, baby. MOTHERFUCKING CRUSADES, SON. CRUSADE FOR TRUTH. Yeah, we totally have to prove you wrong, bro. Otherwise who’d call in the cavalry?

    But in all seriousness though (and I was joking earlier, by the way), it really doesn’t matter. Even if its true. Or not. You could find evidence of information manipulation or suppression done by Singapore’s press online…shit, there’s a reason why in the list of countries sorted by Reporters Without Borders that we suck pretty hard balls. You won’t have any trouble finding evidence in contrarian political sites.

    JIHAD TIME kekekekeke

    • Nic says:

      Could you point me to some of them? The evidence showing that the Straits Times changed what a person said or wrote. In other words, delibrate misrepresentation. Most of what I’ve seen so far (and I’ll admit that I haven’t been digging hard) has either been skewed in itself. Actually, just curious, is there any documentation along the lines of “What percentage of the Straits Times is manipulated”? It’s something hard to quantify, but it would be interesting.

      I can forgive newspapers putting a spin or skew on statistics or facts, and/or omitting them. I feel that most publications do that to a certain extent. They’re not scientific journals. They’re articles written by people, and so inevitably they will have some faults (although some newspapers have more faults than others). I don’t read Straits Times to get absolute facts. I read it to get an understanding of how they want to portray it so I can compare to what else is around. It’s like a barometer for our political or social climate I suppose.

      Of course it doesn’t really matter if it’s true or not, because once someone puts out the accusation, whether or not it’s true, it calls to attention everything else the Straits Times does, and the very accusation itself is an attack on the reputation, and even if it has been “proven to be false”, the very fact that it has been brought up will stick in peoples’ minds.

      • sgcynic says:

        “You’re asking the wrong person at the wrong place. Try writing in to the Straits Times for clarification.”

        Are you are dense enough not to recognize a rhetoric?

        “…And ST DOES have the right to alter the letters to suit their purposes. It says so, clearly, in their terms and policies or whatever it is that passes for them… They fucked with Samuel. And it is glorious. I am proud of them for doing so. Very proud. It shows the ST editors have intelligence. And a sense of humor.”

        I can see where you are coming from. And indeed I can draw parallel with how the ruling party have the intelligence and is able to exercise their “right” to screw Singaporeans. They must indeed think themselves smart and humorless in their mission to fix anything and anyone that gets in their way. Jihad… Awesome… Yup, as the saying goes, if the upper beam is not straight, the lower beam will be crooked. We can guess from where inspiration and motivations are drawn.

        Of course it doesn’t really matter if it’s true or not, course someone would be able to appreciate the deviousness, the lack of integrity and professional ethics. It takes one to know and appreciate their own kind.

      • visaisahero says:

        Actually, I can think of a really easy way for you to get the evidence you’re looking for- Write in yourself! Look for any controversial article in the Straits Times, and write in a civilized but critical letter, and see for yourself the difference between what you submit and what is published.

      • visaisahero says:

        “Of course it doesn’t really matter if it’s true or not, because once someone puts out the accusation, whether or not it’s true, it calls to attention everything else the Straits Times does, and the very accusation itself is an attack on the reputation, and even if it has been “proven to be false”, the very fact that it has been brought up will stick in peoples’ minds.”

        You’re a wise, wise man (or woman, “Nic” is gender-neutral). We should hang out. =P

      • Jeffrey Yen says:

        Nic, actually this sort of thing is pretty much something that some people expect to see happen. Personally I think this particular issue we’re discussing is a bit of a non-story because there’s really nothing unusual about the newspaper adding/subtracting stuff from sources. It’s all very fluid. Anyone who contributes a story/forum letter should be mentally prepared that lots of things can happen to their contribution, including sometimes a complete turnaround compared to the contributor’s original intentions. In this case, I don’t feel that the ‘manipulation’ is ‘bad’. It is still aligned to the ‘spirit’ of the letter (even if it’s meant to be satire.) And then the satire became non-satire. Pretty brilliant!

        The only thing I’m puzzled is the use of the 10% stat which is supposed to be in the original source but had since been changed. That may well be true, or maybe it was something that the letter writing mistakenly recalled. We don’t know for sure till someone can get a scanned copy of the newspaper.

        Anyhow, the correction of the number is ‘fact checking’ so that’s ‘reasonable’ if they decided to change the data from the original source (IF indeed this is what actually happened.)

        http://jeffyen.blogspot.com/2005/05/straits-times-ethics-committee-issues.html
        http://jeffyen.blogspot.com/2009/04/straits-times-changes-headline-4-times.html

      • Nic says:

        Hanging out would be nice. From some of your other blog posts I would see we have stuff in common and we can spend time talking. I’m sure we’ll disagree on stuff but that makes it all the more fun to talk.

        As for writing in a letter… hmm. That’s something worth considering, although I doubt I would actually get off my ass and write it. I make an amazing procrastinator. Maybe if I’m bored enough I will. Of course, what if I do write it and subsequently it is published as is? Should I take that, and parade it around here saying “See, ST doesn’t alter even critical letters”? Of course, that’s fairly pointless heh. This is a kind of proof that only works one way. So I’ll rather just go to the original source of the problem and ask him.

      • sgcynic says:

        Here’s an example, not too unpalatable, stripped to the bones, at least there’s no plastic surgery.

        http://ge2011.theonlinecitizen.com/2011/03/letter-comparison-plugging-for-tv-debate-before-ge/

      • Nic says:

        That is an interesting example. Yes, like you said, I don’t seem to see any plastic surgery in that the content is similar…. but it loses a lot of content. That’s more of butchery than plastic surgery.

        Even so, yet again, there is no evidence. That is what I have been looking for.

        A spread of claims regarding “the content of my letters to the ST has been changed” is one thing. A documentation of evidence that “the content of my letters to the ST has been changed” is completely another thing. It would be good if someone with the drive to take down ST (or PAP) could compile a list of doctored letters, and then individually contact each of these affected persons to acquire the evidence, and then publish it online in one concise article. Until then, I feel that this point is nothing but speculation… just to hurl mud at ST and see what sticks.

      • sgcynic says:

        http://theonlinecitizen.com/2011/03/straits-times-does-hack-job-on-forum-letter/

        Read the post by georgia tong. Another accusation, not what you are looking for. Perhaps visaisahero’s example will lead to more being surfaced.

        I vaguely recall there was a website but I I can’t find it can’t recall the content. :(

      • Nic says:

        sgcynic, thank you for continuing to surface more examples! That would be good if things surface… although evidence surfacing would be best.

        Honestly, even if this becomes a big issue, without evidence, it’s not going to go anywhere. Even if it prompts investigation, nothing much is going to happen. The most you can hope for is for ST to behave itself for a while and don’t edit anything.

      • sgcynic says:

        Sadly, that’s true

  11. Xavier says:

    @sgcynic. –

    ‘Are you are dense enough not to recognize a rhetoric?’

    The last time I took an IQ test, I received a score of about 80 points, which I was kindly informed to be the level of that of a semi-retard. Upset, I asked my care-taker (who stood by with a pack of sedatives in case I went into sudden tard-rage) what that meant, since the IQ test givers were pointing and laughing at me as my drool fell onto the front of my shirt.

    Understandably, she was reluctant to give me a straight answer, knowing that I lack the intelligence (i.e. am incredibly dense) to regulate my emotions, having the cognitive awareness akin to a 5 year old child who has been cobbled on the head and reduced to functioning on nothing more than his limbic system. However, she did give me a workbook on rhetorical questions, which I have been working on for the past decade, in an attempt to improve myself, so that I do not appear dense to penetrating cynics from Singapore like yourself. It is said that rhetoric is one of the fruits of High Greek Culture, a fruit that you have clearly reaped in abundance. It is ironic that this is so that given your writing patterns you are, quite obviously, Chinese, overweight and a victim of compulsive masturbation that overwhelms the dopamine/serotonin balance in your neural pathways.

    But at least you are a maestro of rhetoric. I suppose in today’s culture, that’s all that matters.

    Once, I got so paranoid about rhetorical questions that when an old lady asked me how my day was, I thought she was trying to tool me using rhetoric, so i threw her in front of an oncoming bus. I still visit her in the hospital these days, in between bouts of guilt in which I try to cut myself, but fail repeatedly because the density (metaphor) of my clumsy intellect fail to grasp the separate functions of the different ends of the knife, and my lack of motor functions as a result of semi-retardation prevent me from wielding it properly even if i did.

    Every time a mean person like you calls me dense, i cry and I ask my mother for assistance in a dignified suicide. She then smothers me with chloroform and I wake up and forget everything that has happened. Nonetheless, I thank you for pointing out that I lack rhetorical abilities, even though the question I responded to wasn’t rhetorical in the first place.

    ‘I can see where you are coming from. And indeed I can draw parallel with how the ruling party have the intelligence and is able to exercise their “right” to screw Singaporeans. They must indeed think themselves smart and humorless in their mission to fix anything and anyone that gets in their way. Jihad… Awesome… Yup, as the saying goes, if the upper beam is not straight, the lower beam will be crooked. We can guess from where inspiration and motivations are drawn.

    Of course it doesn’t really matter if it’s true or not, course someone would be able to appreciate the deviousness, the lack of integrity and professional ethics. It takes one to know and appreciate their own kind.’

    Yes, indeed they are smart and ‘humorless’. I believe you meant humorous (as in, they think they are funny), but I understand that it is a common trick-of-the-trade for a master of rhetoric to replace a word with the exact opposite of its intended meaning. Such is the power of one who has transcended the norm of rhetorical insight. I am in awe of your prowess, good sir.

    ‘Yup, as the saying goes, if the upper beam is not straight, the lower beam will be crooked. We can guess from where inspiration and motivations are drawn.’

    Sir, that is pretty deep, I must say. But the foreign workers I talk to (who pity my semi-retard-state by giving me free food and teach me simple math and geometry) who construct actual beams and structures say otherwise: ‘When the upper beam is not straight, it means someone fucked up’. Or a dialect equivalent, yes. But since you draw your store of pithy aphorisms from a much vaster resources than I am, I must concede to your expertise in cliches and bromides.

    ‘Of course it doesn’t really matter if it’s true or not, course someone would be able to appreciate the deviousness, the lack of integrity and professional ethics. It takes one to know and appreciate their own kind.’

    I’m afraid I am not clever enough to be devious, or to have integrity, let alone betray it. Still, I must submit to your moral superiority. My grandmother too has a self-righteous streak in her, but she always hits me when I say she is wrong, so I must assume she is right.

    I have let my brother, who has a PHD in rhetoric (incidentally), read your post. He is writing it for me now as I blabber incoherently by his side. He says that you are truly a moral exemplar to internet people all over the world, particularly in Singapore, and wishes that you would continue the good fight against the malign forces of misrepresentation-of-information, corruption, and the ‘exercising of rights to screw singaporeans’.

    Sir, you are indeed a rebel of the highest order, and I have no doubt that in your free time you are writing academic theses that would undermine the state of order in our society should anyone be as rhetorically trained as you to understand it. For after all, you are a cynic, which means in common parlance that you can see past all the rainbows-light-magic propaganda of our government to the sordid truth they attempt to hide.

    When you are not scratching your scrotum and watching V-for- Vendetta repeatedly and jerking off to pictures of opposition leaders while listening to Public Enemy’s esteemed album ‘It takes a Nation of Millions to hold us back’, I am told that you are organizing mass rebellions among disenfranchised lower class people, and failing students.

    Sir, I am sold. I would join your rebellion. Please mail me your home address and leave your handphone number.

    FIGHT THE POWER.

    ok now I’m off to watch a movie.

    • Nic says:

      Xavier, you are so awesome. I would join YOUR rebellion if you promise to continue to brighten my day like this.

    • sgcynic says:

      My sympathies, not just for your low IQ, but for the wasted effort, as I simply switched off after reading one-and-a-half paras. It was a challenge for my towering intellect, just a statement of fact (relatively speaking), no intention to brag and not in comparison to all other fellow netizens. Your sentence structure are fine though. Awesome

      • Nic says:

        Actually, you ought to read it with a detached ego and appreciate it without taking it personally; if you look at it as an outsider rather than as a target it is quite a decent piece of humourous prose written in a casual manner… and consider what you can get out of it. At least, that’s what I do with criticism or personal attacks, whether justified or not.

      • Xavier says:

        lol. nah. you read it all. and you laughed. and your penis shriveled a little. but you laughed.

      • sgcynic says:

        Yes, it’s funny. Didn’t read through it the first time though. I’m easily intimidated by lengthy posts.

      • Xavier says:

        previous post was addressed to sgcynic. i wouldn’t want to insinuate that my posts cause penis-shriveling to anyone else.

      • Nic says:

        Mmm while we’re at it I should clarify that when I say I’ll gun down ST and PAP I mean it metaphorically, using logical debate, just in case someone fails to understand the metaphor and I get arrested for plotting unrest.

      • sgcynic says:

        I wouldn’t try to imagine yours. Not a pretty sight.

  12. The short lesson to learn here is, of course, that nobody actually gives a fuck what any of us have to say. But we say it anyway. Because it makes us feel good, because rhetorics are fun malleable toys to play with, because it makes us feel like we’re little freedom fighters jamming up the cogs of the evil, manipulative bourgeois machine, hurrah. It also makes us feel insanely witty with our long-winded rebuttals.

    However, the way I see it is there are only two options left for us hopelessly disenchanted plebeians:

    1) Back to work, fuckers
    2) Go back to finding movies to watch online for free, illegally. Fuckers.

    I am fucked. Goodnight!

    • sgcynic says:

      Was it good?

      • Xavier says:

        for someone who says nobody gives a fuck what anyone here says he seems to be very twitchy, though.

        ‘However, the way I see it is there are only two options left for us hopelessly disenchanted plebeians:

        1) Back to work, fuckers
        2) Go back to finding movies to watch online for free, illegally. Fuckers.’

        but he is very cool. very commanding. authoritative. he likes the word fuckers very much. it shows he is like, down with the boys, man. he ain’t afraid to get crude and down-dirty, yo. big man is giving instructions better get to work slave

  13. Funky says:

    Xavier you made me laugh!

  14. Xavier says:

    @ Visa + Nic

    I love you (guys) too. This is in spite of the fact that I haven’t seen Visa’s physical (really tall – I should know for I am short) form for more than a year, and have not met Nic. May you excel in your chosen endeavors, grow consciously, live long lives, and have happy relationships. And stuff. Having enough money helps too.

    @ Nic; It’d be nice if there WAS an actual rebellion, though. Or..scratch that..any kind of supportive community for people who give a shit (I use ‘give a shit’ because saying ‘intelligent’ or ‘more-aware’ sounds too gay – even if its true – and also because I’m obsessed with crude language). It gets lonely (not to mention boring – and you feel kind of redundant) giving a shit by yourself. But mostly I’m a passive conformist sheep.

    cheerios. and thanks for saying i’m awesome. for that i am sending happy thoughts your way.

    • So remember to vote for the PAP this coming Elections! ;)

      • Xavier says:

        still in ns only hitting 20 this year so guessing younger than you

      • Nic says:

        Unless a decent opposition pops up. I’m really waiting for one. As much as that sounds like a sarcastic response, I really am waiting for decent opposition that is actually convincing.

      • Nic, type in Singapore General Elections 2011 on Facebook. It’s a pretty fair, unbiased repository of information about both the PAP and the opposition parties (I love how they are called Opposition Parties in the first place – you are either WITH us, or AGAINST us). Check out the Worker’s Party’s Manifesto on their website for starters. Some of them do have good, albeit untested, policy plans, but unfortunately, The Straits Times edits most of the juicy bits out too so most people never get to read them. :S

        Also, to rephrase the last two comments in a more succinct manner (I do so in jest, not to offend).

        “Nic: Xavier, I like a sexy mind. I want to impress you too, although I feel mildly inadequate in comparison. Nevertheless, email me (i.e. what’s your msn addy ah?).

        Xavier: Um, cool. I know I’m pretty damn smart. But I lack practice with the ladies in most social contexts. Let me try to use my smartness a tad bit more since it seems to be the ace up my sleeve.

        Nic: Works fine by me. Drop me an email.. please?

        Xavier: *Dang, that was easy!*

        FIN

      • Xavier says:

        cunt.

        projection is a wonderful thing. but you would know that.

        nic might be very well a guy (in fact I suspect he is, as are you), and I never thought about his/her gender when i wrote. but you did, didn’t you. hahah. and the whole weird subtext of flirting…more a reflection of your own inadequacies than anything else.

        you’re cool man. a real authority. props.

        thank you for playing.

      • Nic says:

        WWIT- well considering that votes that don’t go to PAP go to some other party, it is opposition in a competition for prey, sorry I mean voters, sense.

        I’ll take a look, thanks! When I’m not this sleepy though. What worries me is whether they can carry it out or not. After all, I’m an excellent theorist as well- so by the premise that I have possibly good policies, I should be elected. Well, enough armchair-ing for the night, in fact I’m only posting this from insomnia.

        Nice summary. I approve.

        Also, hope you don’t mind me abbreviating your handle to an acronym.

        The idea of impressionist tits is intriguing, though. As an art student I’m taking impressionist to mean the art style… and such subject matter would be an interesting take on the genre rather than the usual landscapes and lilies in the pond.

        Xavier (and WWIT too i suppose), I find it amusing (and mildly annoyed) to have debates over my gender. Would it actually make a difference if I was a guy? I hear my style of speaking (or rather, typing) is more masculine. But I’m sure masculine speech isn’t limited to males, ne?

        Well. On the Internet no one knows you’re a dog. (google that if you’re not familiar with the meme)

    • Nic says:

      Xavier, do drop me an email. We should chat sometime or something. I left my email somewhere above there.

      Yeah I used to want to chase fame and fortune but I’ve decided that it’s better to just be happy and have a satisfying life, satisfying for myself and those around me. So I just need enough money to make that possible.

      I think “give a shit” is a much better term than “intelligent” or “more aware”- intelligence doesn’t necessarily corelate to giving a shit, and neither does being aware- after all, I’m well aware of the orbital velocity of the moon but I don’t give a shit about it. Furthermore, peppering a sweet speech with a light dash of profanity has more effect. Alternatively, punctuating every sentence with profanity gives off a certain impression (actually, in fact, I’m doing a social experiment in uni regarding this. Not a very scientific one, but just for personal interest… or maybe I’m just using that as an excuse.)

      Let’s give a shit together! (great, that sounds like a mass outbreak of diarrhoea)

  15. Yes, yes, Xavier. I am exceedingly inadequate. Woe is me. Anyway, I’ll buy you a keyboard for Christmas, so that you may continue to contribute to the great body of knowledge in your sky castles and be the efficient 20-year-old that you most certainly are. Off to the cafe now, seeya!

  16. P.S. Don’t forget that the Ayn Rand movie is coming out soon. I know you’re a fan, the great philosophical buff you are :)

  17. Pingback: Samuel Wee’s response « visaisahero.

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  20. Wally Tham says:

    Hi Sam Wee,

    You know, I find the points weak on two counts. Firstly, the sarcasm is wanting. Brilliant sarcasm would have hit home with clarity instead of eliciting that vague double take. A silent metaphorical fart is best served in proximity to a subject. Putting an opinion next to a statistic is hardly sarcasm, it’s just an opinion.

    A formula of contrasting some comment on best education system in the world with asia’s most educated economy to the end of the statistic would have worked, maybe, but when it’s light, it’s just vague.

    Secondly, the 10% success rate of lower income kids making Uni is in fact laudable.
    Honestly, if you were talking about an annual primary school population of 290,261 vying for less than 20,000 spots in local universities, the statistic is rather surprising if you ask me. If we consider lower income groups facing more challenges financially and socially, the number is impressive.

    The rise and development of tertiary alternatives like Polytechnics and the present ITEs really help address this shortfall of local Uni options.

    I think SPH should have just left you letter alone, they erred on the side of thinking you were positive but writing poorly, which was in some ways true.

  21. Sh says:

    Hilarious exchange there guys/gals/people-in-between.
    Could we chat offline? email me at newnationsg@gmail.com or gtalk at iactuallylive@gmail.com

    I’ve noticed that threads on socio-political issues eventually turn into potshots on authors or other commentators. Fun to read definitely, but doesn’t produce extra value to online discourse. Or maybe it’s impossible for any response thread to be a value add at all if it merely serves as an angst drawer for frustrations felt offline.

    Let me know what you think. :)

  22. Pingback: Straits Times Forum explains why it heavily edited letter | The Online Citizen

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