NSP’s Nicole Seah swearing in traffic

From ‘GE’s youngest candidate speaks publicly for the first time’,21 April 2011,  article by Tan Weizhen, Today online and ‘团结党小娘惹佘雪玲 被爆爱飙粗口’, 22 April 2011, article in omy.sg (SM Daily)

The youngest candidate being fielded in the General Election, Ms Nicole Seah, 24, was unveiled today by Opposition party, the National Solidarity Party (NSP).

…Ms Seah, an advertising executive, said during the press conference that she first joined the NSP two years ago, and has an interest in issues such as the rising cost of living, housing and healthcare, as well as women’s issues. Her entrance into politics has drawn comparisons with the People’s Action Party’s youngest candidate, Ms Tin Pei Ling, 27, a senior associate at Ernst & Young.

Both have been criticised online by netizens. Ms Tin was slammed for her online videos where she was shown stomping her feet petulantly, while netizens have also burrowed into Ms Seah’s Twitter account, spreading a post where she was swearing while trapped in a traffic jam.

Responding to this, Ms Seah said: “If the traffic has been at a standstill for an hour, and you are running late for a meeting, wouldn’t you be swearing too?”

(omy.sg news):…有网民就挖出佘雪玲3月16日在自己的“推特”Twitter户头上的留言,显示她当天说:“XXXXXX(福建粗口)。卡在一动也不动的严重车龙里。很恐怖地迟到了。啊!” 对于佘雪玲的言论,有网民就表示:“她实在是一名没有文化修养的阿莲”。 (Translation: A six letter Hokkien vulgarity was tweeted by Nicole, prior to complaining about how late she was and ‘AGHH!’, which got a netizen slamming her as an uncultured Ah Lian. Even the headline reads ‘NSP LITTLE NYONYA caught swearing in Hokkien’, just because Nicole is of Peranakan descent. Great push for Opposition, Sin Ming,  now that you’ve got our drama-loving aunties’ attention.)

Er yeah, anyone would be swearing in that situation Nicole, venting their frustration on fellow passengers, blasting the horn or flashing an obscene gesture, but not everyone will be tweeting to their followers about it. Furthermore, you’re not supposed to operate your phone while you’re driving regardless of the speed, especially if it’s something so trivial as a vulgar tweet addressed to no one in particular. Much speculation around what term was used exactly (though being Hokkien alone already says plenty), and the post has probably been deleted by now, but the most likely candidate would be not so much an expletive, but an acronym of a far longer one similar to what a certain Ris Low would use.  Of course to suggest that Nicole and Ris have something in common would be like saying both a swan and a crow have wings, adding to the whole vaudeville atmosphere of the campaign and earning the wrath of more than 10,000 fans on Nicole’s Facebook.

It’s incredible how people know so much about Nicole in a short few days before even finding out what NSP stands for (myself included). At the rate things are going with the GE, with youthful faces stealing the limelight, I could single handedly set up a political party and draw media attention using the potty mouthed charms of some ex-actress with a passion for renovating people’s homes for free. And oh, a Facebook account too. Shame on these ‘netizens’ for their dirty, totally unnecessary detective work and unfair comments on Nicole’s upbringing based on a Twitter blooper. Politicians are fallible, vulnerable creatures; people who throw a hissy fit, swoon over bags, think about sex, eat, sleep and shit like every damn one of us. These women are election combatants, not Miss Universe or Mother Theresa hopefuls, and the whole social media phenomenon sweeping the country is turning the GE battlefield into a paparazzi minefield of tittering Jack-in-the-Boxes planted by a horde of sly, scandalising underground moles, where all the proper campaigning and effort in pasting posters inside lifts risking vandalisation are trivialised into a ‘Who’s got more Likes on Facebook’ tussle, an electoral version of a Singapore Idol contest (Vote for your favourite NOW!). It’s General Election, folks, not General E-Like-tion.

This whole ‘Like’ system is flawed anyway; Other than clicks from obviously biased relatives and friends, a stalker with a fetish for SYT politicians could easily generate hundreds of fake profiles and spend half a day ‘liking’ Facebook pages to boost up their numbers, and one has to click ‘Like’ first before gaining access to what these women have to say i.e it’s more like a ‘Click me to see more’ come-hither teaser than an acknowledgment of genuine appreciation. Here’s a fine example of how meaningless those ‘Like’ numbers are:

Exclamation marks! I like!

125 people ‘liked’ a post, in fact a warning, which had absolutely nothing to do with Nicole’s work. 125! That’s more ‘likes’ in a post than the number of people ‘liking’ all SM Goh’s MParader posts in a week!  Distorting an election into something to the effect of a  ‘Zoe vs Fann’  dream  showdown is proof that social media, if left to anonymous, attention-seeking gossipy voters, without some legislation to spank irresponsible tweeters and trollers around, may not be the digital utopia we’ve all hoped for.   Skeletons were already peeking out of the closet the moment these ladies logged into Facebook/Twitter, but it’s how they manage these inane keyboard dissenters (behaving like nuisance kids who press your doorbell and then run away) that is a true test of their mettle, not how many ‘Like’ clicks they’ve scored on Facebook (Nicole leads by at least 7000 ‘likes’ at time of writing). Now, let’s just cross our fingers and hope some NSP joker doesn’t ruin her bright hopes by suggesting that she needs to see a Tourette’s specialist, like what SM Goh pranked on Tin Pei Ling.

Then we have this: A Tin supporter urging ‘Singaporeans to vote wisely on the grounds of meritocracy, and meritocracy only’, and ‘judge the candidates by what they have done rather than how competent or pretty they look’ , with the claim that the overwhelming support is because ‘Ms Seah looks better than Ms Tin’ (‘Experience that counts, not looks’, 23 April 2011, Voices, Today online). As the history of politics since the days of wreaths and togas has demonstrated time and time again,  non-verbal signals, physical attributes and confidence in particular,  have always influenced our voting decisions, even if we think we’re fully rational at the polls. A classic example would be the televised presidential debate between JFK and Nixon, or look at Thailand’s dashing young prime minister Abhisit, or note how each of our past prime ministers are tall and Chinese. Let’s face it, we generally prefer our politicians with a not too pockmarked face, without scars, neat hair, non-obese, speak well and have a nice straight set of teeth, so to fall into the illusion that Singaporeans should be voting based entirely on merit and not how ‘competent’ candidates look is ignoring the power of images and ‘gut feelings’, especially among apathetic Singaporeans.  Politics is really as much showmanship as it is about writing policy papers, like a job interview writ large and the citizens are the employers, where people with less experience but with a snazzy sales pitch, bright smile, fresh breath and eye contact may be preferred over more subdued but experienced candidates.  Both women, looking at their newsfeed content, are  definitely more than just pretty faces, and I believe despite this farcical Facebook jamboree, Singaporeans will need more than just flimsy first impressions based on such CVs off a Facebook page before making their final choice.

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One Response

  1. Nicole has been the talk of town… but sadly… why would anyone wanna vote for a pretty face just because she is pretty.. DUHZ..

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