Who wants to watch live feeds of Parliamentary proceedings?

From ‘Videos of parliamentary proceedings belong to the Government: Chee Hong Tat’, 7 Nov 2017, article in CNA

Video recordings of parliamentary proceedings belong to the Government which in turn commissions national broadcaster Mediacorp to cover the sittings and show the footage on various platforms, including free-to-air television as well as on Channel NewsAsia’s Parliament micro-site and its Facebook page.

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat clarified this in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 7) in response to a question by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leon Perera from the Workers’ Party (WP). Mr Perera had asked which entity owns the copyright to the video recordings of parliamentary proceedings.

He also asked if the Ministry would consider removing the copyright if indeed they are protected by one, and make all video footage of parliamentary proceedings freely available for use.

To this, Mr Chee said the public can use the recordings for personal and non-commercial purposes with attribution to Mediacorp. He said the recordings are already used regularly by social media sites and political parties, including the Workers’ Party.

Mr Perera then questioned why Parliament is not given the funding and ability to makes its own live feed and video recordings available with a searchable archive as is the case with countries like Australia, Taiwan and the United States.

Mr Chee said demand for a live feed of proceedings is low.

To be fair, it’s probably true that there are less people willing to sit through a live Parliamentary feed than a Crime watch episode. Mediacorp being a business entity struggling with ratings overall however, has a vested interest in making Parliamentary sessions not so much informative than ‘entertaining’ in bite-size snippets to cater to the general public, yet at the same time refrain from making their political masters look bad, no matter how attention grabbing it would be. Like when they’re caught napping for example.

Beyond intellectually stimulating debates, TV is also the perfect politician toolkit for drama. You have MPs bawling like a baby.

Begging for mercy.

Pointing to the heavens like in Taiwan drama serials seeking divine justice

Could anyone forget the saga that is ‘Tang Liang Hong is Not my Brother’

Some make grand exits like a boss without saying a single word.

And you have the occasional stand-up comedy bringing the House down, like Chan Chun Sing’s ‘Madam President’ skit.

In fact, when Today in Parliament debuted on SBC in 1985, while it was welcomed with much fanfare, there were already calls by Parliament fans for full uncensored telecasts, an act that would symbolise ‘democracy in action’. Though it’s often assumed that PAP speakers would reap the most airtime from these sessions, there were also complaints of opposition MPs hogging the limelight, like JBJ’s ‘unending complaints’ ‘unending complaints’ and ‘belching hot air’.

One MP, Tay Eng Soon, opposed the format of TV broadcasting altogether, recommending that viewers ‘close their eyes’ and listen to the crux of debates rather than picking on visual distractions like a politician’s dress sense, body language, or shiny reflection off his bald plate. But what is politics without its histrionics and theatre anyway.

Despite Chee Hong Tat’s claims of low viewership, I do believe there is value in putting up videos wholesale (by topics at least) as a supplement to the standard edits since the government has always emphasised on digitalisation and transparency, so that hardcore Parliament fans should be given the chance to dissect discussions, warts and all. Isn’t the purpose of the party whip or Speaker to serve as a real-time moderator/editor of the proceedings anyway, so that debates don’t get out of hand?

Besides, in the age of Netflix, TV viewership has been anaemic for years anyway. Given a choice between Parliament and watching a run-of-the-mill drama with actors spouting foreign accents, I’d rather spend my time on the former. The acting may even be better.

 

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OK chope! making fun of Najib Razak

From ‘Mediacorp Channel 5 apologises for offensive segment on Ok Chope’, 5 April 2017, article in CNA

Mediacorp Channel 5 has apologised for a comedy segment that contained comments on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak that some viewers found offensive.

After the segment on comedy show OK Chope! was aired on Mar 29, the channel received feedback from viewers that it was offensive, it said in a statement on Wednesday (Apr 5)

In response to media queries, Mediacorp’s chief customer officer Debra Soon said: “Channel 5 and the production team behind OK Chope! wish to sincerely apologise to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for a segment on last week’s episode.

“OK Chope!, a weekly live show, features comedians providing humorous takes on news and current affairs. Last week’s episode included references to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak which were in poor taste and offensive. We have thus pulled it from repeat telecast with immediate effect. We apologise unreservedly for this mistake.”

When Malaysia banned the comedy classic Zoolander over a storyline that involved the assassination of the Malaysian Prime Minister, Singapore followed suit in order to be ‘sensitive’ to our neighbours. We would have no issue with the countless movies that depict villains trying to kill the POTUS, for example, probably because we don’t share the same brotherly love with the US as we do with our immediate neighbours. I doubt we would flinch if someone made a movie about killing the mayor of Batam.

The OK chope jibes against Najib were rather harmless, even juvenile. Unlike allusions to corruption that got another local comedian Fakkah Fuzz some heat from Malaysian authorities. Curiously, both Najip (with a p) and Fuzz apologised for roasting the Malaysian PM, though both would have no qualms slamming comedy fodder like Trump for the sake of a few laughs (and dollars).

Which puts the state of local satire in awkward jeopardy; that you’re more afraid of insulting another country’s politician than your own. Of all the discontent going in the country, it’s strange that Najib symphatisers should focus on a Singaporean rip-off of Who’s Line is It Anyway, rather than sending the Thought Police to scour their own forums and comedy clubs for anything that suggests foul disobedience against a man treated like a god-king.

Singaporeans and Malaysians tease and joke about each other all the time. We mock their accents, they slam our kiasu-ism. We’re like two buddies in the shower room slapping each other on the butt-cheeks with wet towels, but always in good humour without any malice. It’s unfortunate that one tiny slap from a little known show from the Little Red Dot could cause so much butthurt over the Causeway.

Perhaps Najib and his lackeys could learn a thing or two from our self-professed ‘flame-proof’ PM Lee. 

 

Son of Punggol and Darryl David as AMK GRC contenders

From ‘Potential candidates seen on the ground’, 26 July 15, article by Wong Siew Ying and Lim Yi Han, Sunday Times

…Over at Cheng San Community Club, two potential PAP candidates mingled with residents from Ang Mo Kio GRC at a Hari Raya celebration. They were Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Design deputy director Darryl David and colorectal surgeon Koh Poh Koon.

…Dr Koh lost in the 2013 Punggol East by-election to the Workers’ Party’s (WP) Ms Lee Li Lian. The experience has given him a “psychological prep” and has minimised the “shell-shocked factor”, he said, adding that the ability to understand issues that are of concern to residents is also an advantage.

Dr Koh seems to be taking a different tack from his rags to riches sob story when he was running for Punggol East SMC 2 years ago, where he called himself a ‘Son of Punggol’ and told everyone how he had only $12 in his bank account at one stage of his life. This time round, he’s selling his medical profession as a ‘touchpoint’ for different strata of society, under the umbrella of the PM’s GRC. Pity he didn’t have another go at Punggol though, where he can strike out on his own, as he once proclaimed (I’m my own man!). His sense of toilet humour would have provided us all with some…campaign entertainment.

The colorectal surgeon was once caught on video single-handedly unclogging drains of dead leaves during a flash flood, which would have been great PR if he hadn’t mentioned the word ‘ponding’. Getting shit out of holes with bare hands is all in a day’s work for him really. Come on, how many MPs do you actually see sticking their fingers into longkangs?

Truth is, our Prime Minister seems to fancy this guy, and by swaddling the Son of Punggol in a 6-member GRC, he’s much less likely to get the crap kicked out of him, not to mention ‘shell-shocked’. Defeat is impossible in the AMK stronghold. You don’t just send in any Opposition A-team into this GRC. You send goddamn Spartans. For those who followed his 2013 campaign trail, we probably already know all there is to know about his kampung days, and giggled enough at the endless shit puns that he had to suffer with. Now, tell us all a good fart joke Dr Koh!

Darryl David, first making a name of himself as the host of the long defunct Pyramid Game, is an interesting choice. As a former celebrity, his life and career in the entertainment scene is likely to come under the spotlight. If he gets on board with the PAP ticket, he’ll probably be the only candidate to have ever acted on a Mediacorp sitcom (Happy Belly). He also joins the list of mixed-race, articulate, good-looking politicians, including former NMP Eunice Olsen (who once worked on Wheel of Fortune) and ex-Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer. This guy looks set to go on a charm offensive, which is what the PAP thinks the ground needs. Be afraid. Be Belly Afraid.

You’ve got served

Incidentally, Dr Koh is the medical director for Capstone Colorectal Surgery. According to the website intro, a capstone is defined as the topmost stone of a structure such as a PYRAMID. Coincidence?

1 million kg challenge winner getting a Suzuki Swift

From ‘Engineer loses more than 5kg, wins Suzuki Swift car’, 26 Oct 2014, article by Samantha Boh, Sunday Times

Accountant Dawn Hoe had always been on the big side. But when she ballooned by almost 10kg after giving birth, the 37-year-old mother of two tried all sorts of ways to lose weight, including going to a slimming centre. But these did not work….Tired of her lethargy and having to field questions from relatives about her size, she joined the Health Promotion Board’s Lose to Win campaign in March, which got her going with exercise classes, before signing up for the One Million KG Challenge.

…Organised by the HPB, the challenge is the country’s first national incentive-based weight management programme. It launched its second season yesterday, but not before a grand draw for 10 finalists, including Ms Hoe, randomly chosen from participants who have lost at least 3kg over six months since March.

The winner of the top prize, a Suzuki Swift car, said she signed up for the challenge thinking that it was a compulsory part of another weight loss programme she was already enrolled in. But the mistake helped 44-year-old engineer Ting Yit Lai to lose more than 5kg along the way.

A car as top prize is a bewildering choice for a weight-loss campaign, one that I would expect to promote walking, jogging or cycling  as part of a healthy lifestyle.  Losing weight, like kindness to strangers, should be its own reward, and if you’re doing it for a new car or a trip to Australia, I would be surprised if you could maintain a healthy BMI after a week of celebrating and wine-and-dine, not to mention in the long run. How about a free lifetime gym membership? Or a year’s supply of fat-free yogurt? At least an electric kick-scooter which would require some lower limb power perhaps?

In the reality-TV series Biggest Loser Asia season 2, local boy Raj lost a staggering 67kg to clinch the top prize of USD $100,000. He may have lost his fat but gained some foes during the show because of his ‘manipulative game play’. But if acting like a bastard on public television isn’t bad enough, Raj soon ‘gained back 9kg’ in a matter of days post-season while celebrating his victory, according to his ambassadorial testimonial for Fitness First. I wonder how the former plus-sized heavyweight is doing now. Earlier this year, some NTU students launched the similarly named ‘FIT TO WIN’, where contestants stood to win cold hard cash from a pot if they lose 5% of their body weight. The top prize is a 1 year gym membership, though I believe most people, myself included, would refrain from trying too hard just to win consolation money. Which I would splurge on a buffet as reward for subjecting myself to 8 weeks of zumba.

Very rarely, such weight loss challenges may lead to death if you overdo it, and the weight reduction may not even be as drastic as 5kg. In 2011, a 54 year old man with a history of coronary bypass collapsed after a 2km brisk walk. It was his second Lose to Win attempt and he lost just 2kg, weighing around 70kg when he died. If you find yourself failing to attain any results, you may even be tempted to cheat your way to the Suzuki, like the ‘doping’ scandal that happened on the US version of the Biggest Loser 2013. Interestingly, Duke-NUS have even embarked on a study to see if people are motivated by money to lose weight, except unlike a contest dangling prize money as a carrot, the researchers make you PAY a sum first as a deposit (refundable if you meet targets) to keep you committed. It’s like signing up for gym membership, without the motivation of eye-candy.

HPB has good intentions, no doubt, but using material incentives, which have nothing to do with healthy living, to spur contestants on is questionable, especially for the long haul. The whole contest is also fixated on losing kgs, not ‘getting healthier’ or ‘lowering your risk of myocaridal infarction’, nor are they telling people that it’s OK if you’re overweight but continue to exercise and eat well, even if it means not losing (or gaining) any kilos at all. People should keep fit for themselves and because they enjoy it for its own sake, not for fame, the attention, defeating the ‘competition’, ‘visible results’ or a brand new Suzuki car which they’ll take on joy rides and give up public transportation forever.

Singtel charging $105 to watch World Cup

From ‘Breaking the bank to watch the World Cup on TV’, 14 March 2014, article by Chua Siang Yee and Terence Ong, ST

SINGAPORE will be one of the most expensive places in the world to watch football’s World Cup in June.

Pay-TV operator SingTel announced on Wednesday that it will cost $105, excluding goods and services tax, to catch all 64 matches of the month-long tournament.

This is more than double what fans in Malaysia have to pay and more than five times the price in Hong Kong.

The number of matches being offered on free-to-air TV here also pales in comparison to those in other countries. Only four matches – the Brazil World Cup’s opening game, its two semi-finals and final – are set to be screened on terrestrial channels. In contrast, Britain, China, Australia and Cambodia are just some of the countries showing all 64 matches free.

In the last World Cup 2010, Singtel’s chief of content and media services Edward Ying remarked that at $66 (before GST then), subscribers would be paying about $1 a game to watch in the comfort of their homes, equivalent to less than a CUP OF COFFEE. That’s provided that you actually get to watch EVERY live match, which makes you a soccer bum, or the kind of fanatic who accumulates years of leave just to splurge them all on the biggest sporting event of the year. Just 12 years ago, you could get your World Cup Fix at a lowly $25 (SCV), which works out to be about the price of ONE 3-D IMAX movie ticket on a weekend these days.

This year, the price per match is about $1.60, or roughly the adult train fare from Ang Mo Kio to Bedok ($1.69), which means the money you save from boycotting the World Cup entirely can give you 32 return trips from the North to the East. What more can you expect from a country recently rated as the most expensive city in the world? But I suppose only cheese-eating expats are rich, or foolish, enough to sign up for the package without complaining, while Singaporeans will probably never see their home country take the stage in their lifetime, make the most noise about extortion, yet still end up grudgingly paying more than anyone else in the world to support other nationalities’ teams.

If you’re resourceful enough, you could still try to find some places to watch the World Cup for FREE, secret spots where one could tap World Cup transmissions like one establishing contact with extraterrestrials through an inter-dimensional portal. Bishan HDB residents, for example, were able to mooch off Indonesian channel RCTI during the last Cup using nothing more than a $6.50 coaxial cable. So good news if you have friends staying there, though the fact that Bishan used to be a burial ground may explain the presence of offshore signals, a spooky, though fortuitous, breach in the ether. The World Cup is also probably the only time when Singaporeans all begin fiddling with antennas and the tuner function on their TVs, or remember there’s such a channel known as RTM1.

If you’re willing to pay the higher alcohol tax, you could pop by a kopitiam and chug a Tiger while supporting your favourite team.  In 2006, some Geylang coffeshops were able to tap into SCTV signals, while others who subscribed to pay TV providers had to fork out at least $600-1000 for alfresco viewing.  McDonald’s also cashed in on World Cup Fever previously, with their free broadcasts in 2010 ringing in customers dining at their 24 hour outlets.  Probably cheaper than beer, but if you’re hanging out at Macs everyday to watch all 64 matches over supper, you probably wouldn’t live long enough to catch the Grand Final.

Forget about going Hong Lim Park to protest about the ridiculous prices. The best way to stick it to profiteering cable providers is to share your tips on how, or where, to watch the World Cup without having to pay a single goddamn cent. Open up your house to friends or strangers, gather a group of fans at the nearest CC, shout profanities together with the uncles at the kopitiam, just like what the World Cup spirit is supposed to be, bringing people of all walks together, not mass pillaging our wallets.

 

Mediacorp New Year Countdown too cheena

From ‘Why Mandarin segment on Channel 5 show?’, 3 Jan 2014, ST Forum

(Maria Alice Anthony):WHILE watching Channel 5’s countdown show on New Year’s Eve, I was shocked to see a host speaking in Mandarin during the programme. I had to switch between channels to check if I was tuned in to Channel 5, an all-English channel, or Channel 8, the Mandarin channel.

If the hosts were present to translate the English-language segments into Mandarin, where were the hosts to do translations into Tamil and Malay?

Why was a national celebration turned into a bilingual event catering to only one ethnic group?

Maria’s party-pooper rant about the TV50 spectacular is mild compared to theatre actor Ivan Heng’s scathing Facebook complaint about how ‘cheena’ the programme was, where MCs send greetings in Mandarin and you have singers like Wang Lee Hom headlining the event instead of homegrown artistes. To be fair, the show kicked off with a multiracial mix of talents including legend Dick Lee and the original Singapore Idol Taufik Batisah. But you’d soon realise how barren the Channel 5 ‘English-speaking’ talent pool is when you have Gurmit Singh coercing people to ‘make some noize’ as host. FOR THE 7823th TIME. The last time I remember anyone doing MC duty for BIG parties in English was Moe Alkaff.

Gurmit’s partners Joanne Peh and Bryan Wong are themselves ‘cheena’ veterans, but if you look back at the history of our 50 years of television, cheena has clearly dominated the scene, and the fact that two-thirds of the MC lineup were Channel 8 artistes suggests that national television, not to mention NYE countdowns, is unsustainable without Channel 8 celebrity. In one PCK/City Beat/Under One Roof skit, Gurmit was trading jokes with 4 ‘cheena’ artists and 1 Pierre Png, technically now a Channel 8 regular after crossing over from 5. In the final minutes of 2013, the hosts interviewed in succession a who’s who of Channel 8’s star roster, from Zoe Tay to Jack Neo, all of whom didn’t even attempt to say three simple words of Happy New Year in English. Not a single Suria or Vasantham personality was in sight. It was probably the most-watched sequence on stage when everyone’s ready to ring in the new year, yet it almost felt like Cai Shen Ye on a golden steed could ride in at any moment. And where the hell was James Lye? Or the fabulous Muthu?

Critics didn’t just pick on the language bias in the past, but even racial quotas. In 1999, Mediacorp, then known as TCS was accused by a forum writer of being a ‘Totally Chinese Station‘, where English dramas have mostly Chinese as lead actors, or foreign talents with mixed heritage (but still look Chinese). Nothing much has changed since. Think of a current Channel 5 hunk in a leading role and he’s most likely to be Chinese. Or half-Chinese. That’s if you can even think of such a programme in the first place.

It’s really all business and eyeballs for Medicorp, a company that has to struggle to reflect the ‘inclusivity’ of the real world by selling ‘make-believe’. I wouldn’t want to pay money to watch a mash-up of PCK and Moses Lim doing Dick Lee’s rendition of Rasa Sayang on NYE, especially when there’s always catch-up TV. But diehard fans will flock just to watch Jeanette Aw pirouette in a shimmery dress.  If you want a REAL Singaporean year end party, you should have been at Boon Lay instead of sitting at home miserable and wasting time channel surfing. As for Joanne Peh and Bryan Wong, see you in a few weeks’ time at the Lunar New Year Countdown then. I doubt anyone could complain about that being too ‘kantang’.

Final 1 voting system is a big joke

From ‘The Final 1 a big joke’, 18 May 2013, Mailbag, ST Life!

(Daniel Dam): As one who handles contests and promotions regularly, I can say that voting for reality talent show contestants via SMS and social media is a big joke these days (Viewers Blast The Final 1 Voting System, Life!, May 10).

There are techies who are able to auto-pump votes in the thousands with some applications or devices. Thanks to this, the most popular contestant may not win, let alone the most talented. Surely MediaCorp should know this by now.

(Jimmy Wee): I think The Final 1 Contest is a big joke and it is not just the judging. As a television show, it is a disgrace, with very bad presentation and poor production value. The talents are weak and comments from the judges are stupid. One or two of them are trying to copy the American Idol judges. I do not understand why MediaCorp and the Media Development Authority would support such a show.

If Ken Lim wants to gain fame by putting his own money into such a show, it is doing more harm than good to his credibility. And someone should be honest with the participants. Tell them not to waste their time – there is no future for them in the music industry. I hope this TV show will be the final one.

Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 6

If you’re looking for actual talent, try Youtube. The Final 1 is reality programming, which means it was designed to sell a face more than a voice. You’re not going to get a Susan Boyle out of this; Final 1 is obviously targetted at the teenage set, with fresh faces gracing the screen exuding a larger-than-life personality polished and tweaked to the producers’ liking to suit the intended ‘vibe’ of the show i.e fake. If you’ve a great voice but camera-shy and don’t like to wear Jason Mraz hats nor have a goofball smile to charm an audience, skip the talent show, broadcast on Youtube instead. After all, who watches TV, not to mention Channel 5, these days?

The thing about reality singing contests, especially in the Singaporean context, is that you’re obliged to have as diverse a pool of singers as possible. One of the promos of the Top 40 contestants speaks for itself, the usual multiracial mix with cookie-cutter character favourites: The underdog, the nerd, the babe, the diva powerhouse and an Eurasian hipster with ambiguous sexuality. It’s like musical Cluedo, and I use the word ‘musical’ very loosely. I’m not even sure if these people get along though Mediacorp certainly WANTS you to believe so.

What’s sorely missing from the Final 1 is the unintentional humour of the ‘Idol’ series. By taking itself too seriously, the end product is a pale shadow of the contest that launched Taufik Batisah’s career. We used to watch the first few episodes of Idol to laugh at bad performers, who seemed more natural than the confectionery that gets voted into the finals. But at least we DID watch Idol, nevermind if it’s for all the wrong reasons.

The Final 1 isn’t the only competition banking on an ‘unfair’ online platform to garner votes. If you’ve nothing better to do with your life you can campaign for votes via a Facebook page or fan club to vote in contestants for Manhunt International and Star Awards. You may even throw in your life savings to BUY unlimited votes via the Facebook app ($8 = 100 votes), or earn votes by getting a friend to register. The ghost of Huang Wenyong is shaking his head as we speak.

With all this revenue generated through Facebook and SMSes, it’s strange that we still haven’t found that ONE breakthrough mega popstar till this day, the closest we’ve had being, sadly, Sun Ho of China Wine fame, who just needed a generous congregation and some shady investments without going through the hassle of being judged (though she and her ilk will be judged by someone far mightier than Ken Lim).

This would be illegal if votes that actually matter

This would be illegal for votes that actually matter

Incidentally, a public voting system was already implemented during Taufik’s stint in Singapore Idol, which itself generated a ‘shock result’ when the judge’s favourite Jeassea Thyidor dropped out based on viewer ratings, her being a ‘non-Singaporean’ cited as one of the reasons of her departure (Wait, isn’t this SINGAPORE Idol?). A 2004 article summarised the benefits of being popular: A true Singapore Idol only needs to CONNECT. For the Final 1 finalists, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the winner also being the one with the most ‘Likes’ and ‘Friends’ on Facebook, is hyperactive on Instagram, Twitter, Vine,  or a member of City Harvest Church. Hell, if public voting were so critical to success, you could have Yam Ah Mee as the Final 1.

Here’s an idea for Ken Lim, have a ‘reunion’ contest for all the good singers who ‘got away’ because voting viewers are idiots, screw social media, and see what kind of superstar you can groom out of it. Hopefully the winners don’t end up being resident judges of teenybopper reality talent shows because no one wants to buy their album from iTunes.