“No news” is “good news” and better than “fake news”?

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Court rules Govt is not a person under anti-harassment law provision

The Straits Times article on 17 January, “Is Government a person? Court rules on anti-harassment law provision” states that “fake news” has become a major problem for many societies.

It writes, “As recent events elsewhere show, the spreading of false and misleading information can be highly destructive of the institutions of democracy.”

No news is good news?

Arguably, perhaps what may be even more important or significant, may not be so much the “fake news” or “real news” because they happen everyday, but rather the arguably obvious, significant and important perspectives of the news and issues that may never get reported in the news.

Allow me to try to use an example to illustrate this point.

NTUC Budget recommendations

I refer to the article “NTUC’s Budget recommendations out today” (Straits Times, Jan 17).

It states that “It will table suggestions to enhance job placement, boost productivity and protect workers in areas such as the gig economy.

Improve productivity? 

More also has to be done at the sector and company level to boost productivity and move towards becoming a manpower-lean economy … “Only by improving productivity can we hope that workers get a fair share of the productivity gains”.

Last year – also improve productivity?

In this connection, the NTUC’s Budget recommendations for last year  were “in the four areas of:

  • Strengthening the Singaporean Core
  • Improving Productivity
  • Enhancing Training and Skills Upgrading
  • Improving Retirement Adequacy”

So, its recommendations last year also included improving and how to improve productivity.

Previous year – also improve productivity?

NTUC’s 2015 Budget recommendations also talked about improving and how to productivity – “However, there are two areas that require tripartite partners to keep pressing, with one of them being labour productivity.

Labour Productivity Negative

For the period 2007~2014, labour productivity was negative for 5 of the 8 years”.

Prior to the previous year – also improve productivity?

NTUC’s 2014 Budget recommendations also talked about improving and how to improve productivity – “NTUC has been calling for a constant, inclusive push for productivity through approaches such as Cheaper Better Faster (CBF) and more recently, Progressive Wage Model (PWM). More support for innovation and creativity for employers will provide a boost for them to explore productive measures. Once this is achieved, it will provide a platform for unions to urge for productivity gains to be shared with workers”.

Singing the same song year after year – also improve productivity?

Actually, I understand that NTUC (as well as the government) has been talking about improving productivity and how to do it, for about a decade now – such as “Productivity And Wages Go Hand-In-Hand – With $30 million committed to impacting 33,000 workers across over 30 sectors as of March this year, the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP) spearheaded by NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) is thriving in helping companies increase productivity since August 2010. Some 543 projects have been funded the last 18 months through the IGP and half of the 33,000 workers will enjoy a wage increase of at least 10 per cent”. (Labour Snapshots 2012)

So, despite talking about how to improve productivity, and how important it is to improve productivity practically every year – I understand that productivity has remained in the doldrums for about a decade.

If you work in the private sector, or for that matter in the public or private sector in any other country in the world – if you keep making the same recommendation and how to achieve it, but keep failing to make much progress – what do you think will happen to you?

When I told a group of friends about this – one of my friends said “annual wayang lah – not fake news hor” – and everybody burst out in laughter – hahahaha!