From ‘No comment on ‘affair’ rumours’, 26 Jan 2012, article by Melvin Singh, TNP
IT HAS not been a happy new year so far for the Workers’ Party MP for Hougang, Mr Yaw Shin Leong, who has become the subject of a raging online firestorm. Allegations about his personal life were posted online last Friday and have gone viral on several forums.
His Facebook page was also peppered with postings. While a few suggest that the allegations are a smear campaign, others want him to respond to the allegations or apologise if they are true and move on.
Mr Yaw, who is married, is alleged to have had an affair with a married woman who is a member of an opposition party. The WP leadership is aware of the allegations, but so far everyone connected to the case is keeping mum.
This CNY is fast becoming the Year of the Scandal, with top officials probed for corruption and an Opposition MP harrassed on Facebook for alleged personal indiscretions. Anything coming out of Facebook shouldn’t be taken too seriously, of course, but it’s interesting to note that other than ex-PAP Choo Wei Khiang , it’s usually Opposition MPs in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, though Yaw’s rumour mill is unlikely to take the heat off the SCDF and CNB ‘mystery woman’ angle. Meanwhile, the men continue to be exposed while the women involved remain the key point of speculation and top search hits on Google. This piece of tabloid juiciness ought to make all MPs think twice before using social media as a portal to the masses, or having weird hobbies like taking photos of their domestic helpers in the nude.
In 2003, NMP Steve Chia was forced to resign from NSP after allegations of ‘outrage of modesty’ when nude photos of his maid were uncovered from his home. Initially refusing, she agreed to take the ‘sexy photos’ upon some mild persuasion after Chia asked her to ‘give it a try’, prompting members of the public to denounce him as some sort of misogynistic slave-driving pervert. He was cleared of any kind of physical naughtiness eventually in 2004, and was back in action again in last year’s GE contesting Pioneer ward. It remains to be seen if his past scuffles with the law, or his ‘master and servant’ erotic play, would affect his chances of ever returning to Parliament, but at least he’s trying.
The question then, is whether what a politician does behind closed doors, be it a fetish for nude maids or playing footsie with a fellow Opposition party member, should be an indicator of his failing as an effective leader. PAP MPs, I’m sure, have their own skeletons in the closet by virtue of being only human, or are subconsciously suppressed from fulfilling their wildest, sickest porno dreams by an all-white uniform, which essentially serves the same purpose as a mirror in front of a glutton gorging on his favourite food.
Being a serial womaniser and unfaithful to one’s spouse hasn’t stopped other men from being successful and ascending to top ranks outside of government. Some would even say it’s a default perk for simply being in such a position, notwithstanding how such men will get their ‘just deserts’. The initial gut sentiment to a cheating politician would be of disgust and mistrust, but as with powerful men with a soft spot for the ladies everywhere in the world, it’s a tussle between how the electorate perceives personal moral ambiguity vs getting a job done well and justifying a million-dollar salary, regardless of his insatiable sex drive. I wonder if even the wisdom of colleague Chen Show Mao could save Yaw from this mess. Incidentally, Yaw, born in 1976, is a Dragon baby and like our PM, has a dragon character in his Chinese name. I wonder what his geomancer has to say.
Postscript: Yaw eventually resigned as WP Treasurer but continues to serve as MP pretending that nothing happened, a tactic which is drawing fury from both PAP and WP supporters alike. Ex presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian also chipped in to the debate of whether Yaw’s personal indiscretions should be brought to light, with some Forum writers complaining that Yaw keeping his trap shut is taking the ‘ostrich approach’. Meanwhile rumours are flying about that a PRC was involved as well, and before you know it random women would make their sex claims to fame like how Tiger Woods was swamped in the past. I’m not sure anymore if this call for Yaw to tell the truth is to display the ‘transparency’ that WP extols and to uphold ‘moral authority’, or merely to satisfy the lustful curiosity of a tenacious public simultaneously kept in the dark about a certain IT woman in the SCDF/CNB case.
If, at this point,Yaw denies, there will be disbelief. If he says ‘Yes, I cheated on my wife’, the tabloid juice will start gushing again, with the electorate divided over whether to accept the confession or use this as further reason for him to quit politics altogether. Many quarrels over how a liar and cheat can function in his current capacity, but if WP decides that keeping mum is a gamble they’re willing to take, then so be it. Yaw has another 4 years of fervently hoping Hougang residents would forget about this incident altogether, starting off by churning out a Hokkien ditty titled ‘Ai Bia Jia Eh Yia’ (Must Fight Then Can Win) at a recent dinner with residents.
Update 15 Feb 2012: I said too soon. Yaw gets sacked from WP and it appears he did not ‘bia’ hard enough to keep these allegations at bay. In a way this sudden time-out from politics would be good for Yaw to sort out his personal life away from the limelight. Guilty or not, this episode is an example of what Facebook and social media can do to a politician’s career.