NSP candidate joking about Tin Peiling’s weakness as mother

From ‘Being a mum is not a weakness: Tin Pei Ling’, 4 Sept 2015, article in CNA

Her new status as a mum is not a weakness, and neither is her youth, the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Tin Pei Ling said on Friday (Sep 4). Ms Tin, the PAP’s candidate for the MacPherson single-seat ward, had written a Facebook post in response to a TODAY report in which National Solidarity Party’s (NSP) Cheo Chai Chen was quoted as saying that being a mother was Ms Tin’s weakness.

Mr Cheo, who spoke in Mandarin, had said: “If voters choose her, she might focus more on her child than on her voters. This is her weakness.

Disagreeing, Ms Tin said she is committed to MacPherson, and that she returned to work two weeks after she gave birth because she wanted to continue to serve. “I am confident that even as a mum I can continue to focus on my work in MacPherson,” she said.

…Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mr Cheo said his comments were meant as a joke. “I just said: ‘Tin Pei Ling now has a son, so she will focus on the child. Then she will split her attention to the residents’,” he said. “It was not my intention (to criticise her), it was a joke.”

Ms ‘Kate Spade’ herself should be used to getting picked on, none more so than by her former Marine Parade GRC team mate, ESM Goh Chok Tong himself, who posted on Facebook that Tin had been ‘traumatised’ by election pressure back in 2011, and was seeing trauma specialist Dr Fatimah Lateef. He clarified that it was ‘tongue in cheek’. Goh recently boasted that the PAP could be its own ‘self-check’ (which spawned Pritam Singh’s ‘Ownself check Ownself’). Not sure if his tongue was in his cheek then. At least the PAP needs someone to check on the appropriateness of their ‘jokes’ perhaps.

When Cheo passed what has been deemed to be a discriminatory remark about mothers, he clearly forgot about fellow NSP candidate Kevyrn Lim, who revealed to the media a few days back that she was a single mum. If Tin’s baby were a liability to her political aspirations, then what of Kevyrn? The latter already had to endure online catcalls and nasty comparisons to a streetwalker. NSP hastily backpedalled after the incident, but with the Macpherson card already a case of three’s a crowd, it looks like Cheo inadvertently just made it easier for Tin to secure the SMC.

Cheo’s not the first to be a potential nominee for AWARE’s Alamak award. In 2001, then Health Minister Lim Hng Kiang responded to Dr Lily Neo’s call in Parliament to use Medisave to cover breast screening by saying: ‘Save on one hairdo and use the money for health screening’. Tampines and 3-time contestant Desmond Choo raised the analogy that voting for the PAP was like choosing a housewife who’s really good in the kitchen. Some even call out the Cabinet for being predominantly male. While other Asian countries are seeing women take top leadership posts, we still have some in our midst indulging in old fashioned stereotypes, that women are meant to stay at home to look after their kids, look good for their husbands, cook your meals, or, in the case of the AHPETC saga, check the utility bills.

Yet, nobody questions men if they would be able to juggle their hectic day jobs with politicking, looking at the portfolio of some of our more distinguished MPs, be they directors of law firms, mega corporations or prominent lecturer-surgeons. An attractive female candidate like Nicole Seah is labelled ‘a pretty face‘, but no one doubts the abilities of PAP’s undisputed ‘selfie king’.  Neither did anyone in the new PAP Sembawang GRC team retort when they were referred to as a ‘boyband’. If you had an all-women team fielded instead and you decide to nickname them the Pussycat Dolls, you won’t be able to walk in the streets without someone sticking a stiletto heel up your groin.

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