Drumming Up Support for Cherian
When NTU decided not to give Cherian George his tenure in NTU, Cherian's friends and networks got into action. They even produced a petition filled with academic and other luminaries to lobby that their friend deserves job security, as that is what a tenure is in essence. How many of those academics were also striving to get tenure and wanted to use Cherian's case to set a precedent that lobbying and petition for job secuirty works, is a big guess. NTU was however taciturn about why Cherian did not get his tenure citing that it was rightly confidential employer-employee information and were quietly afraid that other academics would rightly learn how to game the outdated tenure system. The lack of transparency on the part of NTU did not help NTU.
There were as a result engineered conspiracy theories from Cherian's friends that Cherian was denied his tenure because he was outspoken in his political views. Is he really that controversially outspoken? If anything and to be indulged in conspiracies, Cherian is in the PAP's books given his employment, wife and wife's background. Naturally Cherian's friends and supporters did not publicly question the former journalist's intellectual rigour as an academic in NTU which prized quantitative and positivist traditions given its engineering research slant. That is not what friends do, but what his former colleague did to set events in context. Courageously even, as nobody wanted to seen as remotely critical of Cherian's situation and going against the tide.
Cherian's Little Elves in Yahoo
Cherian's supporters which includes former students trained and savvy in the use of media, used the media to drum up support for their friend. Yahoo is one of those closely following Cherian's plight and the curious would Google that the Yahoo writers Elizabeth Soh and Shah Salimat were NTU mass comm students and in all likelihood former students and friends of Cherian. Doing their part as writers for the online media giant Yahoo, standing on the chair, "O captain my captain".
Elizabeth Soh in Yahoo
Shah Salimat in Yahoo
Hence, the whole lobby is an extended new media class on what the media can do and should do in lobbying. Cherian's case was reported as a scoop notwithstanding that many academics failed to get their tenure for various personal or office reasons. It helped that Cherian's network was willing and his friends and supporters were in the media to keep support up for Cherian, including a petition and open letter to make NTU open up. In many ways it is like how ST works to play up support for the PAP, this time the table is turned the other way. Control of the media is important in lobbying and engineering support. Ask Gina Rinehart about her Fairfax media ambitions.