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New faces flamed online
But they say they will focus on working the ground for elections
By Rachel Chang & Robin Chan
NEW People's Action Party (PAP) candidates may have been prepared beforehand for a frosty reception in cyberspace, but the speed and malice with which some of them are being picked apart online have come as a shock.
Within days and sometimes hours of their introduction to the media as PAP candidates, private pictures and even court documents have been dug up and disseminated online, and forums lit up with debate and speculation.
Although the new candidates admit that the sound and fury of cyberspace has taken them aback, they say they are trying to tune out the most vicious comments and focus on working the ground for the coming general election.
The two female candidates introduced thus far have been the subject of the most intense scrutiny online.
Pictures from the Facebook account of the PAP's youngest female candidate, 27-year-old business consultant Tin Pei Ling, showing her posing with a Kate Spade shopping bag or with her husband on holiday, were posted on various websites and blogs.
Netizens have also raged over her young age, and alleged that her being fielded was due to her husband's position as principal private secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
In the case of Ms Foo Mee Har, the Standard Chartered banker, an application for a bankruptcy order against a Mr Bernard Chan, who netizens claim is her husband, has spread to various forums.
The fact that she became a Singaporean only in 2008 has also come under heavy fire online.
When I carefully read the ST article, I came to a few observations and conclusions:
- Unprepared for the backlash and online flames
The PAP came nowhere close to being prepared online - frosty or flame-grilled, steamed or stir-fried. Else the article would have been titled "New faces flamed online but we are prepared", and it would not follow "But they say they will focus on working the ground for elections".
This is a typical response when one is 'caught when pants down' but choose to be nonchalant. In order words "Let's move on".
- Monkey see, monkey do
Let's be frank, the ruling party has time and again used the main stream media (MSM) to publicise its good image and propaganda works, eg abolone porridge. And the same medium is used to smear opposition parties and candidates.
I would not forget Tan Lead Shake the slipper-man and the James Gomez saga. Oh I'd thrown in the scrutiny pressure of Presidential candidate Andrew Kuan, and the heaps of scorn and 'insanity' of Dr Chee Soon Juan. In addition the recent fallouts between Desmond Lim and SDA, and the 'disintegration' of the Reform Party.
Pot call the kettle black, eh?
- Newbies and rookies
Allow me get this straight - I have nothing against young MPs. But seriously why don't you put these rookies or 'newbies' into a single-ward member constituency contest?
If they win, hey it's the people's choice! A soaring phoenix emerges strong from the baptism of fire. They are worth their salt and dollars paid! However I reckon these newbies (a derogatory remark termed specially by ST for new opposition candidates but called new PAP candidates - new faces) will hide behind the coat-tails of their heavy weight masters in GRCs.
Don't be surprised when the online community provide them their own version of the baptism of fire.
I pondered - what does this 27-year-old candidate Miss Tin know about raising a family, life's hardship and 'bread and butter' issues? Life's journey often do not come from books or teachings. Principles that I adhere to strongly 10 years ago are no longer relevant to me now. But some of them came at a high price, or steep learning curve.
Rookie? You bet. In my view being married to the principal private secretary of the PM keenly puts a wedge of divide between the people and the eliteness of the candidate. Nothing personal, I hope :P
The other candidate Ms Foo may be someone more suitable. However she might have arrived at a wrong time when foreign talent/labour uproar and new citizen issues are heated topics. Just like a boiling soup spilling over. Locals have criticised that they felt sorely disadvantaged with National Service, missed opportunities and jobs lost but taken by these foreigners. Add in spicy ingredients like foreign talents who treat the Singapore passports like trash - they take it up only to give it up again at a blink of an eye.
So there we have it - hot, spicy curry soup with wasabi-flavour. Yucks!
- Truth be told
Whatever letters we write (at least I do but never got published) to the ST have been edited and often the contents or intents changed. Whatever government forums we feedback to tend to be lost in translation. So this new media has become a platform to vent unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
Purely because you, PAP, has turned a deaf ear to our words.
Frankly I sense the newspapers trying to play the candidates as cornered puppies while making the netizens look bad and petty. I'd thought these media would have jumped at the chance to broadcast such articles. Hey seriously even baby-faced Kevin Rudd was not spared. I am certain their readership will soar and profit-takings increased with this election coverage! Alas no.