Straits Times looking more and more like China Daily

The lead story of today’s ST tells us the local economy has “soared 17.3 percent” over the last quarter, exactly as our wise and magnanimous leaders told us it would:

SINGAPORE’S third-quarter economic figures more than lived up to the hints given earlier by Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In fact, they showed the fastest growth in eight years.

The July-to-September quarter posted a blistering 17.3 per cent expansion compared to the quarter before – definitely ‘not bad’ – the tantalising description used by Mr Lee before yesterday’s figures were announced.

The rah-rah feel-good wording that permeates the article brought back my memories of China Daily, where the good shepherds always knew what would happen, and their predictions always came true. And the news was always suffocatingly cheerful.

This is a very, very bad time in Singapore. It is the topic of just about every conversation. It was just announced, for example, that new teachers’ salaries are being cut, and retrenchment is still the word of the day.

I speak not just as an observer, but as an active participant in the Singapore business world. This is about as tough as anyone here can remember, and no one seems to believe it is going away anytime soon. Unlike Hong Kong, Singapore has no China to pull it up from the quicksand.

On the surface, the city is functioning just fine. But it will take more than rosy headlines and cheerful chirping about how great things are before Singapore snaps out of its deep funk. Maybe things really did “soar” last quarter. But if so, it made little difference to the man on the street. The best we can say right now is that retrenchment levels have stabilized, and fewer workers are being laid off than before. In other words, things are less bad, but they are no where near being good yet.

The Discussion: 2 Comments

On the subject of the Chinese press, the Guardian’s World Dispatch section (online only) has a piece on the new Beijing News.

The Beijing News, which must rely on news stand sales, is an example of the new policy. If it cannot attract readers with new and exciting content, it will not be able to survive in a crowded market. This will put pressure on editors, who must now reconcile the conflicting requirements of a communist political system that tells them to conform with a capitalist economic system that forces them to scoop their rivals with bolder content.

November 19, 2003 @ 2:54 am | Comment

It’s definitely changing, and with this new competition the papers are becoming dramaitcally more risque, especially with sex. Government criticism and political reform are still taboo, of course.

November 22, 2003 @ 10:46 am | Comment

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