Former WP politicians think 'lying' is part of having an 'alternative voice'

Feb 13, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership
Two former Workers' Party (WP) politicians have penned their thoughts regarding the saga surrounding the issue of dishonesty on the part of the party's leadership.

Their comments came on the back of the Committee of Privileges report that recommended Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh to be referred to the Public Prosecutor for futher investigations, "with a view to considering if criminal proceedings ought to be instituted".

Former WP MP Lee Li Lian, who was MP for Punggol East SMC from 2013 to 2015 said that she fears not having any alternative voices in Parliament.

Another WP politician Yee Jenn Jong lamented that some people who are keen on serving Singapore will be "turned off by the PAP's tactics":

"They will weigh the cost to be on the other side. Then, they decide to stay out. We end up with less than the best, a lose-lose situation."

He added that although he is a "retired" politician, he still feels that Singapore should have "capable and responsible alternatives to the PAP".

Missing the point?

Some netizens took issue with the postings, particularly Lee's:

COP Chairman says attempts at politicising COP report 'regrettable'

WP shared a statement on Feb. 11, saying that it notes the developments "with grave concern".

"The last time criminal charges were brought against an elected Opposition MP relating to their political work was in the 1980s," the statement said.

In response to the WP's statement, the Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin said the WP's statement suggests that the COP's recommendations are related to the political work of Singh and Faisal as opposition MPs and further suggests that the report will affect the building of a democratic society.

Tan said the COP findings are based on "objective evidence" and are made available for the public to see.

"Attempts to politicise the matter before it has been debated are regrettable," Tan said.

He added that based on the findings, the conduct of Singh and Faisal before the COP amounts to potential criminal offences and Parliament has the power to proceed to impose sanctions on Singh and Faisal.

However, the COP recommended Parliament to consider referring the matter to the public prosecutor instead so that the prosecutor can consider all the evidence afresh and any other evidence that the Committee may not have considered.

This gives Singh and Faisal "the full opportunity" to defend themselves in court if the public prosecutor considers and decides to bring charges against the two of them, Tan said.

Tan's statement said: "This process will give Mr Singh and Mr Faisal the best chance to vindicate themselves, if they are indeed innocent."

"It will be a perversion of democracy, for an MP to lie, on oath, and then say that such lies should not be dealt with, or that he is above the law because of who he is."

After the COP recommendations were published, Singh, former WP MP Lee Li Lian and former WP Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Yee Jenn Jong shared their thoughts on social media.

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This commentator thinks MCI ad should not have featured poor Malays

May 12, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership
A Hari Raya advertisement by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) was 'cancelled' by certain netizens online for depicting lower income Malays according to reality.

"Message for Syawal", a two-and-a-half-minute video published last month (Apr 30) captures moments in the life of a low-income Malay family living in a rental flat.


Pictured: Screenshot from MCI video "Message for Syawal"

The video, which is peppered with Malay proverbs, shows the family moving out of their rental flat to a new home several years later where they celebrate Hari Raya.

The father of the family works as a mover while the mother is a housewife.

Their young son, Syawal, skips school to earn extra income for his family before a teacher flags his absence from school to his parents.

The mother in the video later decides to return to work to alleviate her family’s financial difficulties while the father gets a new job.

Pictured: Screenshot from MCI video "Message for Syawal"

Why some netizens are outraged

The video sparked backlash online, with some viewers saying that it contained stereotypes about the Malay community.

The stereotypes:
  • The father works as a mover - commonly perceived to be a low-income job
  • The mother is jobless
  • The son plays truant
  • The family lives in a rental flat for low-income earners

Commentator implied that poor Malays shouldn't be portrayed in public to prevent stereotypes

Pictured: Screenshot from Homeground Asia video

A video commentary by The Homeground Asia went further by criticizing how the video propagates the narrative that Malays are poor and lazy, and that the ministry should have created a video that is more relatable to both the less fortunate and the more affluent Malays.

Adi Rahman, one of the interviewees in the video went further by making sweeping assumptions that the ministry lacked cultural intelligence and did not consult the community on the narrative.

Ironically, in talking about inclusivity, Adi implied that the realities of poor Malays should not be shown in public.

For example, his rationale suggested that the video contained characters (the mover, jobless mother and the son who skips school) that contribute to the problem of other races seeing the Malays in a stereotypical and reductive light.

In other words, show the good stuff but not the reality.

Adi even accused the ministry for not consulting the Malays in the vetting of the video narrative.

His accusations were without merit, however, when the Ministry said in a statement (Apr 30) that Malay-Muslim viewers - presumably a focus group - had seen the video prior to its release, and perceived the story to be heart-warming, although some expressed reservations.

Pictured: Adi Rahman - one of the commentators in Homeground Asia video

Stereotyping or masking reality?

The ministry said last month (Apr 30) the video was meant to show "a family’s journey of resilience in facing challenging circumstances and how mutual support and encouragement could nurture the process”.

Other netizens felt it was an overreaction and that low-income families shouldn't be dehumanized in a way that they are removed from the conversation. They felt that the video was a call-to-action for those from the underprivileged to strive for a better life through hard work and seeking help that's already available.

The only missed opportunity in the MCI video was perhaps the suggestion that Malays in low income families living in a rental flat could not celebrate Hari Raya unless they get a flat on their own.

But of course, like Homeground Asia, that is also a sweeping assumption.