From ‘Chen Show Mao’s Facebook post shows lack of respect’, 15 July 2013, Voices, Today
(Gary Chua Sheng Yang): Over the last few weeks, the verbal sparring over the issue of hawker centre cleaning has been kept relatively civil by the Workers’ Party (WP) and the People’s Action Party. On Saturday, though, WP Member of Parliament (MP) Chen Show Mao posted a caricature on his Facebook page depicting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his colleagues Mr K Shanmugam and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan as three dwarves with cleaning gear.
While he probably intended it to be funny, it displays a lack of respect in the political arena and not something I expect of an MP, much less an established lawyer like Mr Chen. The WP has spoken of building a First World Parliament. Is this the behaviour it would condone from one of its MPs?
The party should respond with facts if the allegations against its MPs are inaccurate and, if the allegations are proven correct, accept the mistake and apologise unreservedly. This action by Mr Chen is disconcerting to neutrals and suggests that the WP may not be ready to be taken seriously as a political party.
Chen Show Mao’s caption for this post was ‘I heard the news today, oh Boy’ –Good Men on the march, though the quote may also be attributed to a Beatles’ lyric in ‘A Day in the Life’. There’s nothing really scathing, humiliating or even FUNNY about the caricature, and in fact it even puts the ministers in a good light because they’re depicted as ‘getting their hands dirty’ to do the job, though you’re more likely to see a baby in a politician’s hand than a bucket or rubber hose. At least Breakfast Network putting Tan Chuan Jin’s face on an equally diminutive Ewok was ridiculous enough for the Minister to have a hearty chuckle about it. All part of this big-head-on-little-bodies fetish that people seem to have when it comes to minister caricatures. Even LKY has a Mini-me of himself.
One should still be careful when publishing political cartoons here, as the Demon-cratic Singapore artist found out when he was arrested for sedition. If you are less artistically inclined but dying to show off some funny bone, you may joke about a fellow party MP-to-be on Facebook provided you’re of a certain rank, namely Emeritus Senior Minister rank. Just ask Tin Pei Ling. I think this is really about bad timing rather than ‘disrespect’, considering that both Vivian Balakrishnan and the PM himself have been nagging non-stop at WP leader Low Thia Khiang to sort this thing out. Perhaps not the best time to make a joke about the hawker situation if the ruling party is breathing down your neck waiting for an apology.
Chen’s flair for sketching is apparent from his Facebook page. In 2011, he posted a self-portrait created on his iPad. For those old enough you’d see the Beatles connection too.
He did not comment, however, if the 3 dwarves pic was in fact his handiwork, and it would be a mistake to admit so, because that implies that instead of helping your team work out a defence against allegations of lying in these desperate times, you’re cutting out photos of PAP ministers’ heads, gluing them on paper, and doodling around them like you have all the time in the world.