By: B Goode
If you do not know what factwire is, it is a little known media outlet from Hong Kong. But lately, much to their editors’ glee, it has gotten a little bit more eyeballs due to its so called expose about the defective SMRT trains that were sent back to the Chinese manufacturer.
Had this been just a case of me or you sending back defective fake branded watches back to its Hong Kong manufacturer, it would not be news because Hong Kong is famous for such malpractices.
But it became a perfect storm of scandalous proportion because the conditions for such a phenomenon were precisely lined up:
- It involved the LTA, arguably the most despised government department second only to the NEA
- It involved the SMRT, the most reviled corporation in Singapore
- It involved the most gaffe-prone Minister, Khaw `Harakiri’ Boon Wan
- It involved the PAP government, duh!
- It involved the lamest, most inconsistent and downright cringe-worthy damage control exercise
And most importantly,
- It involved China
And so all these conditions add together to produce a volatile mixture of accusations, controversies and made-up conspiracies that almost broke the internet, here in Singapore at least.
But first thing first. Let’s talk about the so called defects.
In Engineering jargon, a `defect’ is not the same as the definition listed in the dictionaries. A defect is anything that is not according to specification.
For example, if you ordered a red table, but was given a blue one, that would be considered as a defect although the table would be totally functional. And you’d have the right to return the table.
Similarly, the defects found on the bodice of the trains, the hairline cracks, as correctly pointed out by Minister Khaw and the LTA would not in any way affect the safety and functionality of the trains. But because it was not according to specifications, the specifications being a whole smooth bodice, it was considered as a defect and returned back to the manufacturer.
*The government PR department should really take me as the head honcho.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the real motivation for the issue to be blown out of proportion by factwire and other Hong Kong media, which unsurprisingly was swallowed hook, line and sinker by the Singapore anti-establishment.
It has got something to do with China. Specifically, an exercise at embarrassing their big brother, political master and patron all rolled into one.
The Hong Kong media suffer from an inferiority complex. Who could blame them? Previously under the British rule, the Hong Kong media enjoyed an unfettered freedom to publish practically whatever they wanted. And people, especially the administration cowered before them. But now under the rule of China, although they still enjoyed the freedom accorded to them under the terms of the handover, their target of criticism and sensationalised news (China) simply didn’t care.
And the media have lost the support from the Hong Kong elites; the business tycoons, the actors, singers, performers because these people are afraid to antagonise the big brother, their biggest market for their business.
And now, with the so called revelation about defective made-in-China trains, the Hong Kong media went to town to embarrass the Chinese using Singapore as a proxy. And some of us are gullible enough to provide them with the ammunitions with our over-the-top remarks and comments.
The SMRT trains are found to be defective. They are returned to the manufacturer for rectification. This is a normal procedure made abnormal under the glare of anti-China campaign by some elements in the Hong Kong media.
And sadly, some of us have become pawns without realising it.