Workers' Party MP, Yaw Shin Leong has come under fire for an alleged extra marital affair. From a moral standpoint and in a black and white world, Yaw’s actions, if true are reprehensible. However, does this have any bearing on his role as an MP?
MPs might be public figures but they are also entitled to a private life. Just because they appear in the media does not automatically give the public a right to pry at every turn.
While I applaud the advent of social media websites and the alternative media, the sensationalising of Yaw’s marital woes goes a step too far.
Public figues have to be held accountable, but only to the extent of the remit of their powers. It would be fair for the media to expose Yaw if he had abused his powers as Member of Parliament, engaged in nepotism or committed a crime.
In this case however, Yaw is not accountable to anyone but his family members and his religious community. It is not for us or anyone in the media to stir controversy and pass judgment.
The danger of being a public figure in the internet age is the threat of overexposure and in this instance, Yaw is in the centre of a public relations storm. The lines between what is fair, objective and truthful journalism has been blurred with mindless gossip. The pitfalls of this quagmire is a loss of focus and direction.
In our fixation with his private life, we may miss the point of his position altogether. What we should be judging him on are his abilities to better his constituency. Whether he has a good marriage or not is besides the point (as long as it has not affected his role as MP).
In this case, it is not apparent that his private life has affected his public role. It is therefore not an issue unless we make it one.
Let’s not confuse the issues and negate the positive impact the alternative media has had on Singapore. The alternative media serves as a watchdog for accountability and not as the snoopy paparazzo.
picture credit: MP Yaw Shin Leong's FB