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SPH’s new extortion business “a stroke of genius”

Posted on 06 July 2012

Struck by lacklustre newspaper sales and a series of unfortunate incidents which has dealt a severe blow to its credibility, Singapore Press Holdings, the country’s most reliable source of news, has unveiled an extortion business unit in an attempt to recover lost profits.

The new department, called STEAL, adopts the best practices from loansharks — by asking small businesses to pay exorbitant hidden fees after they are featured in any of SPH’s publications.

This is in line with SPH’s mission to engage minds and enrich lives — their own.

STEAL’s most recent client is celebrity couple Daniel Ong and Jaime Teo, who run a successful business called Twelve Cupcakes. They were recently interviewed by The Straits Times, The New Paper, plus a couple of magazines, all owned by SPH. The couple shared the stories on their Facebook Page, as anyone would.

Unexpectedly, SPH sent an email to the wife, demanding what is claimed to be about $3,000 in payment for sharing the content. Daniel, playing nice, took the stories down.

But SPH replied by saying that they also need to pay a $214 “investigation” fee. The entire story is narrated in a Facebook note by Daniel Ong.

It turns out that Twelve Cupcakes wasn’t the first. Advertisements about SPH’s innovative loanshark services have been appearing in many lampposts. Glowing reviews are coming in. But none have gone public until Daniel and Jaime came along.

In an interview with SPH, the head of STEAL explains the rationale behind the new business unit.

“We’re the biggest show in town and truly the gold standard in journalism. And gold-standard journalism demands platinum-standard payment,” said Bronson Goh, managing director of STEAL, who was nominated by the government for his sterling track record as a successful entrepreneur operating twelve lending businesses.

According to media analyst BS Balaji, the new business unit is an astute move, especially in light of SPH’s recent mistakes.

“People will start forgetting about SPH’s past transgressions and zoom in on this new development,” he said.

SPH’s recent controversies included the fabricated report about open MRT train doors on STOMP, their self-serving charity event where they ‘donated’ newspaper subscriptions to poor families, and allegations by City Harvest Church members about  biased and shoddy reporting.

“It’s truly a stroke of genius. SPH chairman and PAP alumnus Dr Lee Boon Yang has a knack for keeping SPH in the limelight,” BS Balaji added.

While the cash registers are a-ringing, the extortion incident  has made at least one group very unhappy: Hurt City Harvesters who have gripes about how the media has handled the trial of the church’s five leaders over alleged criminal breach of trust.

“This shows that SPH is the root of all evil,” says 16-year-old Sunny Ho, who, together with a group of friends, are walking several rounds around the SPH building, hoping for the complex to collapse like the Walls of Jericho.

“The way SPH goes about extorting money from unsuspecting people is blasphemous,” she added.

Pissed with SPH? Donate to the Singapore Children’s Society.

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