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Veteran Mediacorp actor’s pay cut raises questions on age discrimination by employers in Singapore

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By: Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the reports of Mediacorp investigating the hurtful contract negotiations 70-year-old actress Jin Yinji had to experience. Mediacorp said that they were gravely concerned about the reports of how they conducted the contract negotiations. Mediacorp further confirmed they have reached out to Jin to understand and address the issue, although they cannot go into details as contract negotiations are confidential.

Jin was asked to take a pay cut of two-thirds or more, and she also recalled a conversation in which she was told the company would rather hire a $50-an-hour bit player. Jin has also been given parts in two new upcoming Channel 8 drama.

I think that it’s funny that Mediacorp are investigating themselves over this contract negotiations saga, and the supposed remarks made to her. Wonder if this would even happen if the issue had not been widely publicised. I can only hope that this will end with a positive outcome to all involved.

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According to the Straits Times, the hurtful comments to Jin Yinji were made more than 10 years ago, and  not during their contract negotiations last year.

Mediacorp’s head of studios, Ms Doreen Neo, said: “The media reports about our contract negotiations with actress Jin Yinji are a matter of grave concern for us and we have investigated the specific remarks reported.” Mediacorp further suggested that the hurtful remark made to Jin was a passing comment made by someone who had no authority to discuss hiring and over a casual conversation.

The veteran actress thanked the Chinese Daily which first reported her story for throwing light on her plight of disrespectful behaviour by Mediacorp staff during her contract negotiations, but also said that she has since let it go. But this may not the first time that something similar to this has happened.

Just look at another examples from 2008, which said that actress Huang Biren quits MediaCorp over salary issues. She was the most acclaimed actress in Mediacorp and had won three Best Actress awards before she quit. She said, MediaCorp did not offer her a salary package that she felt she deserved.

These cases make me wonder about the extent age discrimination by employers in Singapore?

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