International Business & Economy While SPH recruits general, it sheds foot soldiers

While SPH recruits general, it sheds foot soldiers

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By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond

It was earlier reported that SPH had recruited LG (Ret) Ng Yat Chung as its independent director with effect from Aug 1(https://theindependent.sg.sg/lg-ns-ng-who-sold-nol-to-french-now-wants-to-turn-sph-around).

Former Cabinet Minister and SPH’s chairman Lee Boon Yang said that LG (Ret) Ng “will complement our diverse strengths and expertise. He will help us to steer SPH to greater heights of organisational and business excellence.”

LG (Ret) Ng was the CEO of NOL before being appointed as director of SPH. Under his watch, NOL lost more than $1.5 billion, and finally was forced to sell NOL away to a French conglomerate.

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In an interview, he told the media that he regretted the sale of NOL to the French. He said that he had a “tinge of this ‘sayang’ feeling.” From 2011 till his resignation as CEO of NOL, he had been earning at least S$16 million from NOL (https://theindependent.sg.sg/lg-ns-ng-earns-at-least-s16m-in-total-before-sale-of-nol).

It is unclear what experience LG (Ret) Ng has in the media industry, but in speaking about his appointment to SPH he said, “Though the media landscape is rapidly evolving with technological advances, I am sure we can turn all challenges into opportunities. I look forward to working with the board to maintain our leadership position in the media sector, and to seek new growth for the company.”

SPH laying off staff

Not long after LG (Ret) Ng was appointed as director of SPH, TISG broke the news last week that SPH will be laying off staff and MyPaper will be merged with The New Paper (https://theindependent.sg.sg/will-sph-announce-major-changes-soon-hundreds-of-staff-to-be-retrenched).

Two days later, Bloomberg confirmed the story saying that SPH plans to merge two of its tabloids to form a new free-distribution publication as part of a restructuring effort. It added that SPH would be cutting 5 to 10 percent of its workforce, mostly part-time workers.

Yahoo! Singapore reported that many of the staff are worried about their future. “The older folks are especially concerned about being laid off, given that the economy is not doing so well now. I am concerned too as I am already in my 50s and I still have a family to look after,” an unnamed SPH staff told Yahoo! Singapore.

Another employee with The New Paper said, “The mood in the office is very quiet. Yes, I’m concerned. I don’t know where I will go after that if I’m affected.”

An SPH journalist even wrote on a blog yesterday, sounding her concerns about the impending retrenchment (https://theindependent.sg.sg/journalists-in-trouble-as-sph-retirement-looms).

She said, “This is not a good way to start off the weekend.”

“First, you hear rumours of retrenchment. It’s not just any bank, electronics or oil and gas company. It’s a media company. Communications is its business. It’s your company. But there’s no firm news of what’s happening. Just tons of speculation,” she added.

“Then you read the (retrenchment) news. Not news from your own company, which has a paper specialising in news for over 170 years, but from (TISG) Yahoo! Singapore and Bloomberg. Two papers are merging. 5 to 10% of the staff may lose your jobs.”

“Is it right that you learn of such news from other media when your own company, with its own media channels, have been deafeningly silent?” she asked.

She said that she has been reading and even writing about others losing their jobs but she never expected it could be her turn next. She also admitted that for those staff who are over 40, it may be difficult for them to get a new job.

“You don’t know how long you’ll be unemployed for,” she lamented.

Come tomorrow (17 Oct), SPH will be having a townhall meeting to tell its staff about the changes in the company. Staff will be asked to leave and tears will follow.

It’s not known if LG (Ret) Ng will at the meeting too, sitting on management side.

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