The Online Citizen (TOC) editor, Terry Xu, and the founder of the now-defunct States Times Review (STR), Alex Tan, clashed on social media last week over their respective approaches on how to run a socio-political website in Singapore.
The argument arose after TOC advertised a job listing last Thursday (19 Sept), looking for a full-time content producer. The job listing, which stated that candidates cannot expect food and transport allowance, overtime wage or a notice period in the event of termination, states that the employee must be ready to be deployed 24/7.
Mr Xu, who is facing a lawsuit brought on by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after he refused to take down an article that allegedly defamed the head of government, warns that there are other disadvantages to the job:
“Before applying for the job, you have to got mental preparation for visits by the police to your home, the possibility of being sued by government officials for your work and trailed by the Internal Security Department.
“Your family must give the go-ahead to you for taking up the job. While the company will try to cover your expenses and damages but we have to warn you of our limited resources.”
Responding to feedback that the job requirements are ridiculous, Mr Xu commented that the position was created according to his current working conditions, job scope and pay. Despite this, he says the new position is still considered “quite lax” compared to his own job as editor since he has to manage other administrative tasks.
“Listed in this job vacancy is my current working conditions, job scope and pay (HDB can attest to that because I submitted my banking details of my past six months salary to them, which they then rejected my BTO loan application because they find my bank balance too low.)
“It is still considered quite lax as compared to what I have to do, as I haven’t include managing the advertising partners, IT backend, administrating the staff, PR with the different agencies and entities and financial management. And just recently, learning how to defend myself in a legal suit.”
Responding to the job listing, Mr Tan advised Mr Xu to “get a full-time professional job and write part-time.” He added: “I don’t require a single cent of donation from the 10 years I have been writing. I have a young family, a house, a decent stock portfolio and enough money for me to go holiday in Japan each year.
“Look, I even have higher readership than TOC. If I can do it, the average person like you can at least attain half of what I did.
“Why live so miserably? Enjoy your life, enjoy writing and enjoy taking down the PAP. How can you be a leader when you can’t produce benefits for your followers or even the simple act of feeding yourself?”
Mr Xu appeared to take offence. Referring to Mr Tan’s decision to migrate to Australia, Mr Xu responded sharply: “LOL, if TOC writes like you do, it would have been closed down and its editors jailed years ago. Come back to Singapore and do the same thing that you did, and see if you can walk the talk.”
Mr Tan replied: “Hahahah enjoy crawling then. Me not coming come back to Singapore is a choice. You going to jail is not a choice”
Last November, Mr Tan shut down his anti-ruling party website STR after the Singapore authorities geo-blocked the website due to his refusal to take down a disputed article. The contentious article made false statements and impugned the integrity of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) as a financial regulator.
MAS, Singapore’s central bank, filed a police report over the article and the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) sent Mr Tan a notice to remove the defamatory article from his website.
Although Mr Tan initially remained defiant and refused to back down, he chose to cease all website operations after the IMDA blocked the website in Singapore and said that he wishes to live his life peacefully in Australia.
Days after he made this decision, Mr Tan announced that STR would continue under a new name – the Singapore Herald.-/TISG