Hasnor vs Maria: You are the Judge

The taxi driver claimed he accepted the interview thinking it was a feature on young taxi drivers. Instead his words were taken out of context and the news angle suggested taxi drivers can earn big bucks. The journalist claimed she reported the information as given by her interviewee because he showed no signs of exaggeration. Which side of the story do you believe? I have my own views and I'll leave it to you to decide your own.

Taxi Driver's story
ST reporter's story
Let's read more into the latest Straits Times article by the journalist who wrote the story.
The said objective

The journalist clearly stated the purpose of the interview. To find how why younger Singaporeans were choosing to be taxi drivers. The first thing that comes to mind would be interviewing a sample size of this group of young Singaporeans to find out what are the factors that got them started as taxi drivers, such as a change of environment, flexible working hours, the money, a bad employment market or no direct boss to report to, etc.

Strangely, however, the journalist later ended up admitting her selection bias:

and straying away from the objective she set to focus on just one thing: the monetary aspects of the job:

So what is the objective of her report? To find out the reasons why younger Singaporeans chose to turn to cab driving or to tell Strait Times readers that taxi driving is lucrative by presenting the unusual accounts that cannot represent the average? This is confusing.

Passing the buck

Neither the Straits Times nor the journalist who wrote the story is taking responsibility of the misleading untruths they had splashed all over town last week. The journalist hinted that the taxi driver may have lied.

Confirmation bias

Despite the public outcry over her inaccurate reports, the journalist took extra care to mention not once but twice in her rebuttal column that to suggest that there is validity in her report because the other interviewee, Mr Leow, was not disputed.

Reinforced Claims

"Earning $7,000 is not an impossibility, but earning $5,000 or more a month may not be unusual." Despite her step down in figures, her stand remains steadfast: Cabbies make big bucks.

And she roped in a bigwig to reinforce her point. According to this journalist, Mr Lim Biow Chuan apparently thought because he met cabbies who earn $5,000, he believes earning $7,000 is not impossible. This should further mystify citizens who has been asking all week about the purpose of presenting a near-impossible, unsustainable career feat in mainstream media. The question remains unanswered.

Help for low earners

Miss Maria, the journalist then stated the investigative findings had spawned a new meaningful purpose.

To find out how other cabbies could earn more than the current $2,000 average. Wait! Let's recap. As far as I'm concerned, "may not be that unusual" suggests "average". So which is the truth Miss Maria? How much does a cabbie usually earns in Singapore? $2,000 or $5,000 or more. Make up your mind, madam.

The positive outcomes of her findings

Back to helping low earners to do better, so these are the secrets that low earning drivers can take from her investigation:

1) Don't waste time
2) Drive to areas where passengers would be
3) Take call bookings
4) Make most of surcharges
5) Drive a lot, drive rain or shine, day and night

I applaud Miss Maria for her rather useful contributions.

You can't say it cannot be done, because you are not doing it

So please drive when it rains. Always. Please drive when you cannot see that well.

Her investigations did a world of good

Well. Alright, here is her conclusion of her rebuttal. Now we have the secrets of earning $7k:

1) Don't waste time
2) Drive to areas where passengers would be
3) Take call bookings
4) Make most of surcharges
5) Drive a lot, drive rain or shine, day and night

Singapore will be a better place. Passengers might find more cabs available when they want them.

and we'll be a better First World Country

My conclusion: If the journalist Maria was right that Hasnor the taxi driver lied about his earnings, it reflects how shoddy the journalistic standards of Straits Times was by publishing unverified untruths to the public. If Hasnor was telling the truth, it reflects very poorly on the credibility of the the Straits Times and how unscrupulous our mainstream media has become.

Having seen how the controversial original report was scrutinised and debunked, the rebuttal was no better, laced with inconsistencies. The motivation of the report is also in suspect. I give my vote to Hasnor, the taxi driver. Apparently Maria does not have a good track record of reporting the truths.

"I literally spoonfed her with the actual FACTS and she didn't use it but replied on all the rumors to construct her story" 
- blogger, on Maria Almenoar [link

The Straits Times and Maria Almenoar should take a good look at themselves and ask themselves what is their true calling as journalists.


  1. Her editor should never have allowed the original piece be published at all - her news angle was all over the place as you'd pointed out.

    Wee Kim Wee would have turned in his grave.

  2. Loved what you did with the piece of irresponsible journalism.

  3. In the US and Europe, journalism is a calling. It's a prestigious and respected career. Only the best brains go to this line. They are the voices of the people and seek to tell the truth. A check on the powerful and elites of society. Remember the two journalists who brought down Nixon in Watergate? All the Presidents' Men? Here in SinCity, you have exposed and re-affirmed Shitty Times as a national disgrace which stoop so low to gutter journalistic standards! Reporting half-truths and lies to propagate their hidden agenda. That is the ultimate course of a monopoly where only one major press dominates here! Wonder no more why our Shitty Times is even ranked lower than those African countries! Well done!

  4. Hi Asingaporeanson,

    IMHO, SPH was already a propaganda machine wrt Singapore news back in the late 1990's or early 2000's.

    E.g. An acquaintance's family migrated to Australia back then because her son could not cope with learning Chinese in primary school, despite his high-IQ. However, due to the rural environment that they settled in (i.e. regional visa sponsorship), the family did not adjust to Australian life and decided to return to Singapore. Then someone from SPH contacted my acquaintance X and asked for her views wrt the primary schoolers' challenges in learning Chinese. Of course, you can guess what X told the reporter about the issue of learning Chinese and meeting the MOE's requirements (since she was even willing to relocate her family to avoid the language challenge). Next thing X knows, she was bombarded with calls and messages from her friends calling her 2-faced, sell-out, hypocrite, etc. It turns out that the reporter took what X said out of context and used it to support the propaganda message of the article. X told me that she said to the reporter that given that her family could not adapt to Australia, her son HAS NO CHOICE NOW but try his best to overcome the language hurdles. Reporter wrote something to the effect of X said that students should try their best to over their language hurdles --> big difference!

    From then, I already learned not to trust reporters from SPH. That's why I had turned down their request for interviews in the past. (See ending notes on the blog entry below). That said, apparently I did appear on TV once in mid-2000's as a favour to a friend whose firm was the target of the program. [Note: I did not watch the program, as I was busy at work and I had already given up watching Singapore TV programs by then.]

    As for the case related to the XLX blogger's evaluation of Maria Almenoar, irresponsible journalism had caused harm and/or inconvenience to many parties. My friend was an instructor at the school handling the matter and counselling the students. To quote her, "Big headache!"

    Cheers, WD.

    1. Hi Winkingdoll,

      I could remotely recall a ST article about a Singaporean couple who had to return to Singapore. The story was about how this couple has to sell off their 1 million dollar restaurant because they could not cope with the operation due to them facing difficulties of hiring staff all the time. It also highlighted how the couple has to do everything by themselves, like washing, cleaning, cooking etc.

      What the article did not explain is that the restaurant was a lifestyle-holiday kind of thing set up more to the regional area instead of the metropolitan region.

      So the papers took the chance to spin it that way that life was hard in Australia (you got to do everything yourselves) totally downplaying the fact the restaurant was flourishing, that was why the couple couldn't cope without extra hands. They ignored the fact that it is understandably hard to find staff in more remote areas, given how sparsely populated Australia is and gave it another spin to strongly suggest that doing business is difficult for Singaporeans there and also the reason why we need more people in our labour force.

      Lastly, they did a small mention in some corner that the couple was returning because the guy's mum was down with cancer and they wanted to spend time, which was the main reason why they wanted to return.

    2. Aha, so the papers have misquoted at least 2 Singaporean couples who decided to return to Singapore.

  5. p.s. Another friend, who involved in the AWARE saga, concluded, ""mainstream media's reporting can sometimes be questionable".

  6. Hi there!
    Winking Doll - what is IMHO?

    Simply appalling. Comes down to trusting evidence only from good, trustable sources ie Journal articles, especially peer reviewed ones only. ha ha

    I would not consider any form of media, newspapers, television or radio to be completely objective or error-free.


    1. Hi Deb,

      IMHO = In my humble opinion.

      > I would not consider any form of media, newspapers, television or radio to be completely objective or error-free.

      Yeah, I doubt there are completely objective mass media -- boring facts don't sell. Thus, IMHO, it makes sense to read/review various perspectives (from various angles) of an issue and think through critically to form our own opinions on the matter.

      Cheers, WD.

    2. I think it is fair for Singaporeans to have slightly higher expectations for a national newspaper. This is no longer the Syonan Shimbun. This isn't a tabloid as well.

    3. Winking Doll - Thanks!! been reading your blog and wondering what IMHO meant ha ha

      Nix - Thanks for your reply! ha may be abit of exam talking but in physiotherapy our lecturer tells us that newspapers and media are not a reliable source of information - eg if i were to write a paper i would get very low marks if i were to reference something from there. He keeps telling us to look for more quality reference sources. ha ha i reckon even the Australian, or sydney morning herald or the Advertiser in adelaide would not make the cut. but i agree with you that we hold a higher expectation for a national published document.

    4. Hi Debby,

      Even peer reviewed journals are not error free. You'll learn about them if you ever take up some sort of research methods module.

  7. So the next time the Taxi Companies ask for a fare increase because of the reason that taxi drivers are not earning enough for themselves, Taxi commuters will say they better fucked off. And cabbies will have the Shit Times to thank for for making their lives much harder because of the unprofessional reporting of journalists like Maria.

  8. This cuntree is being run by the dogs...

  9. I don't know why ppl are so upset by this. Who takes the straits times seriously?? Its not even journalism by Stalin's standard.