A sad day for Singapore democracy & the Oppositions

In the span of two weeks, two of the three highest profile opposition parties have come under the media limelight – for the wrong reasons.

Workers’ Party MP Yaw was rumoured to have an extra-martial affair with one of the workers’ party comrade. This is personal no doubt but what irks me is the replies of both the party chairman Low Thia Khiang and the man Yaw himself: they do comment on “rumour” when approached by reporters. This contrast sharply with the PAP’s approach of pulling out a candidate in the last election when a rumour was raised about the candidate in the online forums. It is alright to admit it and move on (President Clinton did well despite his affairs with an intern), but to stay mum and “we do not comment on rumours” are simply unacceptable. Workers’ Party is going to pay a heavy price for this mistake if they continue with this kind of dirty politics.

[Updated 16 Feb 2012: “Workers’ Party expels Yaw Shin Leong“, the move is much more drastic than I have expected and even more accountable than PAP’s own treatment of its own candidate. Kudos to WP for such bold move, but if Yaw is able to come clean and be accountable, he should be given a chance. Afterall, he is a good MP who is commited and hardworking, no one is infallible and should be pardon and given a chance to mend his mistakes. Think Bill Clinton!]

Next in is the Singapore People’s Party, six members of opposition Singapore People’s Party (who had contested in the last election) have resigned. Those resigned include former civil servant Benjamin Pwee and Wilfred Leung, who many were expecting to succeed incumbent party secretary-general Mr Chiam See Tong. Their reason? differences in opinion about party leadership styles and the future direction as reasons behind their leaving. While the highly respected Chiam See Tong has definitely done well as an MP but three times that the potential successors deserted him casts a shadow on his leadership style and his judgement on people he trusted.

If the Oppositions wanted to have significant progress, they need to unite and show that they preach what they do if they want to earn the rights to critic the incumbent. And lastly stop playing dirty politics –  the voters will be easily turned off.

related links:


An open letter to WP Yaw Shin Leong on alleged extramartial affair

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/STForum/Story/STIStory_761553.html

Yaw rumours: It should be ‘yes’ or ‘no’, not mum’s the word

I am disturbed by Workers’ Party MP Yaw Shin Leong’s reported response to an alleged extramarital affair.

His response to a journalist from Shin Min Daily, which was reported in The Sunday Times (‘MP Yaw staying mum on rumours’), was as follows: ‘I have said it before, if these are rumours, then there is nothing for me to say.’

What does Mr Yaw mean by ‘if these are rumours’? If the claim is untrue, he should refute it. If it is true, he should admit it. As an MP, Mr Yaw should not be evasive but be absolute in his answer, at least to the Singaporeans who have entrusted their estate to him and his party to run.

The reply should be either ‘yes’ or ‘no’, because there are ethical issues involved such as integrity and accountability. It is unfortunate that Mr Yaw is facing such allegations, but it is even more unfortunate that he has not chosen to be transparent when the situation calls for it. Choosing to keep silent and not clarify the claims can only fuel mistrust and suspicion.

Mr Yaw has every right to keep mum. However, a leader’s response to a crisis is crucial because it speaks volumes about his moral courage and integrity.

Myra Lee (Ms)

MP Yaw affair: WP should walk the talk

Source: The Straits Times  4 Feb 2012

I WAS troubled by the reports about Hougang MP Yaw Shin Leong of the Workers’ Party (WP) and rumours about an extramarital affair with a married WP woman member (‘Hougang MP Yaw drops out of sight’, last Saturday; and ‘MP Yaw staying mum on rumours’, Sunday).

The WP has always stood up for leadership, transparency and a First World standard of government, including a First World Parliament.

Yet, courage and leadership seem to be sorely lacking in the current WP team. If Mr Yaw is guilty of an extramarital affair, the party should take a stand on whether he has betrayed the trust of voters and the WP.

If Mr Yaw is innocent, shouldn’t the WP’s leaders surely come out in full support of him?

Transparency is also missing in the WP’s handling of the situation.

WP leaders Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim have not disclosed when they became aware of these questions hanging over Mr Yaw.

They have not told us whether the WP has investigated the situation internally. Neither of these leaders has bothered to explain to the public.

The WP has fallen short of the standards the public has come to expect of it. The public deserves an answer.

A First World Parliament is about more than merely First World slogans. It calls for First World leadership and transparency.

Ong Teck Hong