Nearly 10,000 people have signed the petition to call for the dismissal of Singapore Press Holdings’ (SPH) chief executive officer Ng Yat Chung from the company, in the wake of his “umbrage” controversy recently.
During the press briefing to announce the transfer of SPH’s media business to a not-for-profit entity, Mr Ng was asked by a reporter from CNA if the plans would mean the media business would pivot to emphasize editorial integrity ahead of advertiser interests.
Stressing that he took umbrage at such questions, Mr Ng said — while pointing at the reporters — that their media outlets do not describe themselves as “bowing to the needs of advertisers in doing your job” despite where they receive their funding from.
“(At) SPH, we always have advertising, but never pander to the needs of advertisers… The fact that you dare to question (the editorial independence) of SPH titles… I don’t believe even where you come from, you concede in doing your job,” he said.
“I must call this out… Chairman (Lee Boon Yang) is a gentleman. I’m not.”
Mr Ng has since issued an apology for his apparent outburst at the SPH press conference.
He told The Straits Times on Saturday (8 May): “I had stood up for SPH Media’s long-cherished editorial integrity and will continue to do so. Being a direct and blunt-speaking person, I apologise for any offence I might have caused and regret any distraction from the merits of the proposed restructuring.”
Despite his public apology, a netizen has launched a petition to call for SPH to dismiss Mr Ng from his position, saying that “Singaporeans take umbrage at SPH CEO’s boorish behaviour, demand his sacking”.
“Ugly in word, manner and appearance, we do not concede that a man who has less talent than our collective pinky should continue to helm SPH.
“One having gone bust under his watch (NOL), Ng should not be let anywhere near another of the Little Red Dot’s prize jewels (SPH).
“We therefore urge the board of SPH to take due umbrage at Ng’s bullying, dishonesty and incompetence by sacking him without delay, lest he sink the ship of SPH as well and disgrace our country,” the petition reads.
The petition has garnered about 9,643 signatures at the time of writing.
A handful of people have also expressed their reasons for signing the petition in the comment section, saying that they “take umbrage” at Mr Ng’s outburst at the press conference.
One person wrote: “I take umbrage at his behavior as a highly paid person who’s not taking responsibility for the failure of the companies he has helmed in the past!”
Others wrote that they feel unsure of Mr Ng’s leadership, calling him an “incompetent” leader and blamed him for SPH’s downfall.
Another person noted that Singapore requires leaders that can “uplift and lead without making us feel unsure”.
One person questioned: “How can this type of gangster behavior be permitted in Singapore?”
SPH to transfer media business to not-for-profit entity following plummeting advertising revenue
In a statement on 6 May, SPH said it will be transferring its media business to a not-for-profit entity in the wake of declining revenue from advertising.
The company said that the decision was made as part of its strategic review, which was announced on 30 Mar.
This restructuring exercise will entail transferring the entire media-related businesses of SPH including relevant subsidiaries, relevant employees, News Centre and Print Centre, their respective leaseholds, and all related intellectual property and information technology assets to a newly incorporated wholly-owned subsidiary, SPH Media Holdings Pte Ltd.
SPH will provide the initial resources and funding by capitalising SPH Media with a cash injection of S$80 million, S$30 million worth of SPH shares and SPH REIT units, as well as SPH’s stakes in four of its digital media investments.
The transfer will take place at a nominal sum. The not-for-profit entity will be a newly formed public company limited by guarantee CLG.
SPH said that it will release more information about the CLG in due course.