Clarification: First Note Republished

This evening (4 Oct 21) I was forwarded an opinion piece written by The Straits Times Senior Health Correspondent Ms Salma Khalik, “Covid 19: When there’s confusion. it’s tough to pull together against a common enemy”. It was posted on the ST website at about 2240hrs.

The article stated that “The Singapore Medical Association runs an opinion blog called hobbitsma, penned by an anonymous author”.

I guess the “anonymous author” means me.

The article by Ms Khalik makes many noteworthy points which I encourage you to read. However, I just want to make one important clarification. This blog is run by me. The Singapore Medical Association does NOT run this blog. It may choose to republish some of the posts from time to time with my permission, that’s about it.

The confusion may have arisen because of how my life began. I began as an occasional columnist in the SMA News some 20+ years ago. Then I left the SMA News in 2011 but SMA set up a Facebook account for me and long-term readers will remember that before I used WordPress, my posts were long Facebook posts. However in late 2015 , the Facebook account was discontinued and so even the last vestige of link with SMA has been cut and I now blog on the WordPress platform.

For the last 10 years I have been on my own. A “ronin” hobbit of sorts, not in service of any daimyo and answerable to any editor or editorial board. Completely independent.

This fact can be seen in the “First Post” on Facebook, which I reproduce here in full (first published on July 2011):

Dear Friends and Colleagues

Yes, the SMA Hobbit is back. But on a different forum from the SMA News.

Even an old coot like this hobbit has to keep up with the times and social media simply cannot be ignored.

The social media offers several advantages from an established hardcopy print medium like the SMA News. For one, there is no printing press deadline to meet. The SMA news goes to print every month and this hobbit has strived hard to meet these deadlines and come up with articles with some regularity in the past. There is no such requirement with the social media such as a blog or a post on Facebook. I can post every few days or every few months.

Secondly, hobbit columns in the past in the SMA News have to conform to rough expectations of print space, i.e. about two pages or about 1300 words. With the social media, there is no such expectation. A post can be just several words or a few hundred words or even more than the usual 1300 words.

Thirdly, there is no editing or censorship by the SMA News Editorial Board. What I post on Facebook is entirely my personal business. There are pluses and minuses to this new arrangement. The main plus is that I am not subject to the Editorial Board’s decisions on what to print and what not to print. The minus is that I am entirely on my own here. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the role and responsibility of the SMA News Editorial Board. They are volunteers and they have a job to do. Having said that, that doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with their decisions even though I must respect them when I contribute to SMA News. So when the differences came to a head over a certain article, I exercised my right to retire from the SMA News as a columnist. To be absolutely clear, there were many important reasons that led me to my retirement from the News about half a year back, including the demands of work, family, but the decision of the SMA News Editorial Board not to print a certain article was also a big contributory factor.

Enough of the past, back to the present. Since this is my first long post here, I need to stress that whatever is posted here does NOT represent in any way the official position of the SMA on any issue. The folks in SMA have kindly set up this Facebook account for me to continue my nonsensical and personal ramblings in Cyberspace. I appreciate this opportunity and new forum and I hope you will continue to support me here virtually as you have had in the past in print.

As you are well aware, the Hobbit lives in a mythical parallel universe called Middle Earth. Unless otherwise and specifically stated, events and personalities referred to in this Facebook account are completely fictitious and belong to the realm of utter fantasy. If you do suspect that I am referring to anyone or any event that you think may have occurred on planet Earth (i.e. 3rd Rock from the Sun, and NOT middle-earth), then let me again reassure you your suspicions are totally unfounded and without any basis.

For the avoidance of doubt and to be absolutely clear – all future writings and opinions expressed here on this Facebook account are un-researched, untrue and cannot be substantiated. So read at your own risk, folks.

One thought on “Clarification: First Note Republished

  1. I first read your post “ the meandering undead”….and it felt like someone had deep dived into my heart and brought all the words out which I had kept suppressed. So insightful.
    Thank you very much for this candid post too.


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