Saturday, January 13, 2007

Stop The Presses! EP 2

Welcome to another installment of STP. (EP 1 here.) Today we're looking at the 'foreign talents' issue. Two days ago, Channel News Asia reported on the Singapore Perspectives 2007 seminar organised by the Institute of Policy Studies. One article that was published was entitled 'Middle class wage stagnation could lead to social instability'. On 11 January, a snippet from the article read:
... However, economists are asking who this growth is for. The income of the bottom 30 percent of the population has fallen. What is more worrying is the fact that the majority of Singaporeans in the middle class has only seen about a 1 percent increase in nominal income in the last 5 years. It is not just Singapore - economists say stagnant wages is a global problem, and the chief reason for this is globalisation. India and China are introducing a large pool of skilled and unskilled labour to compete with the labour forces of industrialised countries. Singapore is susceptible to this because of its open economy. 123,000 jobs were created last year and economists estimate some 70 percent of these jobs went to foreigners. [1]
The very next day, the article was amended and it read:
...Singapore is susceptible to this because of its open economy. Manpower Ministry data shows that 124,000 jobs were created last year and 45 percent of these jobs went to foreigners.[2]
To say I was flabbergasted by this would be my understatement of the week. So I found a link to email the Editor.
Hi there, I would like to ask something about the article "Middle class wage stagnation could lead to social instability" by Pearl Forss, found here. In this article accessed today, I found that the article says that "Manpower Ministry data shows that 124,000 jobs were created last year and 45 percent of these jobs went to foreigners." However, in some internet circles, it seems that other people who have accessed the article yesterday saw the words "123,000 jobs were created last year and economists estimate some 70 percent of these jobs went to foreigners." Example here. This is an overestimation of almost 56%. I wonder if there was an error in the earlier, or later copy. Which should be the correct statistic? This is an important story and a lot of people would be interested in the figure. Kudos to your team and Ms Forss for reporting it; I haven't seen it at other newspapers yet. ;) Best regards, Jeffrey Yen
I just got a reply.
Dear Jeffrey Yen, Thank you for writing in. We were informed that our earlier web story had an error regarding data on employment of foreigners. We have amended the story to reflect the information as shown on TV news last night. You may view the video clip which is linked in the web story here: We apologise for the error. Thank you again for your support of channelnewsasia.com Best regards, xxx (Newseditor)
While it would be unfair to harp on a genuine error, (and there's really nothing wrong with a correction in that scenario), I wonder if there's a more interesting angle to this. If we look at the original article [1], we see the word 'economists'. If we look at [2], 'economists' is removed and 'Manpower Ministry data' added. Could it be that what we have are simply two sources saying different things? The 'economists' might refer to the folks presenting at the IPS seminar. They have some numbers they crunched on their own. But there might be other numbers available, from, say, the Ministry. Anyway, the IPS website still contains the 'incorrect' version of the CNA report. If anyone attended the IPS, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. ;) Update (!): I had originally missed the email address of Pearl Forss, the reporter (which was shown in the news video), which was why I emailed the editor. I should have emailed her first to get the real story. Here's her reply. :)
Hey Jeffrey, The economists at IPS estimated that 70 percent of jobs created went to foreign workers, if we include PRs. Ministry of Manpower statistics showed that 45 percent of jobs created went to foreign workers, not including PRs. But the economists did not have exact estimates, while the Ministry of Manpower did, so we went with the latter figure. =) thanks for watching.
45-70% of new jobs went to foreigners? Hard-hitting stuff...

7 comments:

voyager said...

err... okie...

so, what _exactly_ is an "exact estimate"?

:-P

jeffyen said...

I think (and this is my personal view) that an 'exact estimate' is euphemism for an approximation that is 'more official'. An inexact estimate might mean a figure that is not 'so official', probably some numbers compiled by a bunch of ragtag merry men plucking numbers from the air. Then again, I don't know lah, the economist speakers don't look like a ragtag bunch to me. ;p Maybe it's all about sensitivity. :)

Singapore Election said...

Hello Jeffery,

Pseudonymity gave us a head up to your post here. However our concern is the email you received from Pearl Forss. Whoever sent the email did not sign off his/her name.

Could you please verify that the email was actually from Pearl Forss? Until the verification we cannot be sure of the authenticity of the email.

Thanks,
S.E.W.

jeffyen said...

It's from Ms Forss because I sent her an email to ask her about her story, and she replied.

40+ Singaporean said...

Like I said in my comments in Molly's blog, it doesn't matter. The proportion is so grossly out of whack with the ratios of citizens, PRs and FTs, something fundamentally is wrong.

See my http://mollymeek.livejournal.com/136432.html?thread=1099760#t1099760

40+ Singaporean said...

Like I said in my comments in Molly's blog, it doesn't matter. The proportion is so grossly out of whack with the ratios of citizens, PRs and FTs, something fundamentally is wrong.

See my post

PS. Sorry for the double posting. Correcting a link error.

jeffyen said...

Yes, quite a lot of interesting stuff and comments from Molly the Meek. ;p