This post will be short, because I am on a business trip right now. But I feel compelled to write this quickly before going back to work, because I am that disgusted and upset.
The PAP recently unveiled 27-year-old Tin Pei Ling as a potential candidate in the upcoming elections. What has been happening on the Internet (especially Facebook) since has been nothing short of disgusting.
Ms Tin is reportedly a business consultant at a big accounting firm, and apparently is married to what would seem to be a high-flying civil servant in a position of some importance. From the news reports I've read, she had been volunteering with grassroots organisations since 21.
Some folks seem to have taken it upon themselves, to dig up what they think is dirt on her personal life, in an effort to put her down and besmirch her reputation. These efforts have included personal photos apparently from her Facebook account before she removed or privatised them (and here is an object lesson to the PAP and indeed all parties: tell your candidates to privatise their online presence before announcing them!), insinuations about who she is married to and how and why she married him, and claims about her purportedly extravagant lifestyle, so on and so forth.
This is essentially a young woman who has taken a huge leap into the unknown by stepping forward as a potential candidate. Her motivations are still unknown (other than whatever she has publicly stated), her competence and suitability as an MP remain to be seen, and she has not said much about her policy positions. In short, she is still pretty much a complete unknown.
And that is precisely my point. I would like politics in Singapore to be about the candidates and their views and their competency/suitability as MPs and office holders. I would not like politics in Singapore to become an exercise in gutter journalism. If and to the extent that a politician makes morality and virtue part of his/her platform or public persona, then that becomes fair game as well -- but only then, and not before.
I would like Ms Tin to be given a chance to show what she would be like as an MP, instead of digging up all this personal stuff -- things which, frankly, to my mind have been overblown and do not say anything about her suitability as an MP, or even her as a person. She is a 27-year-old professional, not a nun.
I find what has happened to be quite offensive and reprehensible (which is why I am deliberately not including details of or links to the comments). It is almost as if people, in their antagonism towards the PAP, are willing to overlook and ignore what is right and what is dignified.
The consequence of all this, is that people will be deterred from joining politics, even more so than before. I for one will openly admit that I have thought about it and decided against taking the plunge, in part because of these things. I have been a victim of these whispers. It is not fun. It is not right. It is not what I would want Singapore politics to be like.
And so I will not like, comment or share these stories and articles. I will lose, and have lost, some respect for those who pile in with their derisive comments on Facebook (some of whom I had respected before). I will choose to publicly express my disagreement with what has happened and is happening, and my sympathies for Ms Tin.
I sometimes feel like we have the government that we deserve. Well, through our actions, we will also get the politics that we deserve. Let's think about what we really want Singapore politics to be like.