Much a-boo about nothing?

Joshua Chiang/Photos by Shawn Danker
The jeers that greeted Presidential candidate Dr Tony Tan as he took to the stage to give his speech on Nomination Day were loud enough that those who were watching the live broadcast on Channel Newsasia could here.

“I think it is deeply disappointing to have people who will not even listen. I hope that during this campaign, Singaporeans will listen to views of all the candidates,” Dr Tan told the press afterwards.

According to Today, it was the supporters of rival candidate Mr Tan Jee Say who jeered at Dr Tony Tan. The Online Citizen’s volunteer photographer Shawn Danker who was present at the Nomination Centre concurred.

He estimated that there were 50 Tan Jee Say supporters in the crowd of roughly 500. He also told TOC that he recognized some in the group as the same people who had jeered at Tin Pei Ling during Nomination Day of the General Elections at Tao Nan Primary School on 27th April this year. Back then, they had chanted “Kate Spade! Kate Spade” when the PAP team contesting Marine Parade GRC – of which Ms Tin was a part of – came out to greet their supporters after the Nomination Papers were submitted and approved. (watch the video here)

Mr Danker also said that the supporters of Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Mr Tan Kin Lian had remained largely out of the fray during Dr Tony Tan’s speech.

When interviewed by the press over the jeering incident, Mr Tan Jee Say said, “I thought that was not the correct way to conduct our campaign. We should show respect to everyone.”  He had earlier told the press on 11th August when collecting his Certificate of Eligibility that he “looks forward to a dignified contest”.

Opinions divided

Opinions were largely divided when TOC posted the question on its Facebook page what they think of the incident.

“Regardless of the other opponents fight fair or not, personally I felt jeering is unsporting and not a respectable way of expressing our feelings. People can say all they want to degrade us, but we should not degrade ourselves,” wrote Joseph Goh.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Weiwen Loh wrote, “Booing is childish behaviour. Just like name-calling, insults, and baseless accusations. Let’s not turn our elections into a circus.”

But there were also people who thought otherwise.

Johnny Loh wrote, “No big deal, PAP supporters boo to SDP on GE 2011 Nomination Day too.”

Ridzuan Osman agreed, “Booing doesnt mean youre not being civilised. Its part and parcel of a political campaign. All the candidates are grown up adults and they have been in the political scene for quite some time so if they are affected by boos and jeerings, I dont know what should be said of them.”

Juan Yan Lim felt that a candidate’s tolerance for ‘pressure’ is reflective of whether he can lead the country through its toughest times. “If a candidate says he can take pressure to lead the country, especially in this tough times, but keep whining about the boos, then it says very clearly his tolerance for pressure,” he wrote.

“I think it is the right thing to do as it can help to sway votes in the pro-singaporean direction. Some people do require verbal cues to know which candidate deserves our vote,” offered ‘Emeritus Niki Wang’.

On her blog Singapore Actually, ‘bookjunkie’ gave an explanation to the jeering:

“It shows how angry the people are. How much a huge segment of the population don’t trust that Tony Tan is impartial. I think most people link him to PAP, even his supporters. The mainstream media and his former party members sort of added to this by having the Unions and Clans back him up. And here I thought the President was supposed to be impartial.”

Regardless of opinions, one thing’s for sure. It doesn’t matter how loud are the ‘boos’. The only voice that truly counts at the end of the day is the voice of the vote.

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