Channel News Asia (CNA) carried an article this morning headlined, “Singapore best place in Asia to be a mother.”

We were actually number 15 globally in this table based on a study by “Save the Children.” The article assumes that Australia, which was at number 9, is not part of Asia.

rankingI read CNA’s headline and thought, “Oh boy. This is going to a lot of Singapore mothers’ knickers in a twist.”  While there are comments on CNA’s thread on their Facebook page both applauding and denigrating the article, here are some of the detractor’s comments (unedited):

“But is it the best place to be a children? They are so stressed over academic achievements here. A lot of ppl I know wish to migrate with their kids for a more stress free life.”

Agree with this article, but they should also post an article Singapore rank in bottom half as a place to be a mom based on other categories. Don’t only write the positive, also look at the negative, that’s how the nation can improve.”

“Best place? Mum stresses for Child’s education, not included?”

It goes on – you can go to their Facebook post to see all the comments – good and bad.

Personally, I thought it was odd that we were ranked the “best place in Asia to be a mother.” When I read CNA’s article, I came to the realisation that the context was not painted adequately. The “Mothers’ Index” by Save the Children is derived from health, educational and economic factors. Their work seems aimed at developing countries where women’s mortality, safety, and economic progress are major issues. These are not issues faced by developed nations like Singapore.

Here is a quote from the CNA article:

“In Singapore, lifetime risk of maternal mortality has been cut by 80 per cent, child mortality decreased by 25 per cent, gross national income per capita doubled and percentage of women in parliament increased six-fold over the past 15 years, the report noted.

Singapore has done well on the index, far ahead of its regional counterparts, with significant cuts in maternal and child mortality, as well as improvements in the percentage of women in leadership positions in the country,” said Greg Duly, Regional Director for Save the Children in Southeast and East Asia.”

So the foremost issues that concern the organisation seem to be mortality, economic and leadership progress of women.

My hunch is that the issues that make being a mother in Singapore challenging are our education system, time with child, stress, and money (lower and sandwiched class). These do not seem to be measured in the study.

The headline, “Singapore best place in Asia to be a mother,” in my view, is a sweeping generalisation. Yes, it is true based on the study but a wider context to frame this statement would have been more accurate.  For example, “Singapore best place in Asia to be a mother” with a sub-head that clarifies that it is based on mortality, economic progress, etc. The article could then elaborate on issues Singapore mothers face.

This sweeping headline will no doubt create much debate and conversation online. Oh wait, that could have been the intention.

In which case, ignore all of this.

Link to State of the World’s Mothers Report (Full Report)

 

 

Advertisements

Not a topic that often comes up at parties I go to, nor do I know one personally, but assassins is a fascinating topic. For the record, I don’t condone the profession but there is a certain fascination in the workings of the “underworld”.

A group of researchers at the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University in the U.K. has analysed newspaper articles, court records, and a series of “off-the-record” interviews with informants “who have, or who had, direct knowledge of contract killings” in order to construct what they term a “typology” of British hitmen. For the record, these social scientists “define a hitman as a person who accepts an order to kill another human being from someone who is not publicly acknowledged as a legitimate authority regarding ‘just killing’.”

The sample comprised of 27 contract killings, committed by 35 hitmen, and one hitwoman, active on the British mainland from 1974 to 2013. Not the most robust sample size but in this “industry,” a small sample size is very good.

Some fascinating nuggets:

  • At the lower end of the fee spectrum some victims were murdered for as little as £200 (approximately S$420)
  • The highest fee was £100,000 (approximately S$209,425)
  • The average fee was £15,180 (approximately S$31,800)
  • The age range of the hitmen and hitwoman was 15(!) to 63
  • The average age was 38
  • The average age of the victim was 36
  • Guns were the preferred weapon of choice, accounting for 25 of the 35 victims.
  • Most of assasinations took place in suburban neighborhoods, often as the victim was walking their dog or going shopping – mundane undertakings.
  • Tuesdays was the most popular day to assassinate someone (this was not statistically significant though)

The research team identified, four types of hitmen (source: http://as.wiley.com/WileyCDA/PressRelease/pressReleaseId-110177.html)

The Novice:
While a novice is a beginner who may be carrying out a hit for the first time, this is not to suggest that they are incompetent. One example of the novice was 16-year-old Santre Sanchez Gayle, who committed murder for £200 in 2010 and was only caught after bragging to his friends.

The Dilettante:
This type of killer is often older than the novice. Of the four types, they are the least likely to have a criminal background and therefore they may lack access to firearms. The dilettante is likely to accept a contract as a way to resolve a personal financial crisis, and may not take to contract killing with much enthusiasm or skill. One example is Orville Wright, the “hitman who lost his nerve”, who decided he could not go through with the £5000 hit, after talking to his intended victim.

The Journeyman:
This killer is someone who is capable, experienced and reliable but not an especially exceptional hitman. As a ‘career criminal’, they are highly likely to have strong connections to their local criminal underworld. While this allows them to source guns, it also means that the police can use local intelligence networks to identify them.

The Master:
This final type of hitman is the most elusive to study, as they are also the least likely to be caught. Professor Wilson’s team suggests these killers are likely to come from a military or para-military background and could be responsible for up to 100 hits. The major reason the master killer evades justice is that they travel to an area to carry out the hit, without any local ties, leaving minimum local intelligence about the hit or the hitman.

The full paper will be published in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice.