With all the meme’s and videos we’ve seen of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) CEO’s outburst, one does wonder what is going on? But more importantly… what is umbrage?
Well, umbrage can be loosely defined as taking offence or annoyance at a remark.
On the 6th of May, SPH announced its intention to restructure. Part of the restructuring will include breaking away its media business into a not-for-profit entity. The reason for this move would be to face the challenge of falling advertising revenue.
With this move, SPH’s media business will eventually become a company limited by guarantee (CLG). Of course, this move will only come about in October and is still subject to shareholders approval.
By restructuring SPH’s media business into a not-for-profit entity, the entity can tap on funding from private and public sources. These sources include extra financial support from the government.
What is a CLG?
A CLG is an entity that does not have share capital or shareholders. Instead, it has members who act as guarantors. These members agree to pay a nominal amount if the company dissolves.
A CLG is a separate legal identity. It can carry out activities in the company’s name it oversees, such as employing workers, borrowing credit, and buying and selling property.
Generally, non-profit organisations requiring corporate status would usually set up a CLG. Such organisations that would typically set up as a CLG are trade associations, religious bodies and charitable organisations.
SPH would not be the first CLG in Singapore. There are quite a few CLGs registered with the Accounting and Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of Singapore. They are all governed by the Companies Act.
The Art House and Esplanade both run on the CLG model.
SPH CEO, Ng Yat Chung apologises for the outburst.
SPH called a press conference on the same day of the announcement. As CEO, Ng Yat Chung was present, along with the Chairman of the Board of SPH and former Cabinet Minister, Dr Lee Boon Yang.
During the press conference, a reporter from Mediacorp (SPH’s only other competitor in Singapore’s duopoly of printed media) asked if the move to a CLG would impact the editorial integrity of its media arm and if it would pander more to advertisers.
Ng took offence to this question which resulted in his outburst.
However, today (8 May), Ng apologised for this outburst. Mr Ng told The Straits Times on Saturday: “I had stood up for SPH Media’s long-cherished editorial integrity and will continue to do so. Being a direct and blunt-speaking person, I apologise for any offence I might have caused and regret any distraction from the merits of the proposed restructuring.”