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The 'Big Media' of Singapore

~by: Hong Weilun~

Appearing in the news unabatedly since allegations relating to the Yaw affair broke out, pressure within the WP ranks has been pushed up by several notches. Calls for accountability and transparency rolled out as quickly as newspapers came off the press. This is a massive blow for WP, which held itself out to be a champion of all the great ideals of democracy; and for Hougang of which Yaw was a MP for, a bastion for the opposition movement in Singapore. It was a moment to be savoured by the PAP and its supporters. Opposition politicians cannot be trusted.

On Thursday, to live up to what the party stood for, WP expelled Yaw for keeping silent. It was an unprecedented move in local politics, and a heavy price to pay for WP. The association between WP and Yaw is officially over - nobody had expected this sudden twist in the plot. In the past, with little or no presence in Parliament, the opposition’s powers to retaliate legally were extremely limited. Today with one GRC and one SMC under its belt, it is possible for WP in this case to push the letter of the law to its limits and force a bi-election to be called.

In the aftermath of the sacking, PM Lee announced that WP had let the voters of Hougang down, and that Singapore has more pressing issues to worry about. Khaw Boon Wan wanted WP to come clean with the Yaw scandal. Several pro PAP voices dismissed the sacking as unnecessary and a sign of WP wanting to make a statement. These voices merely wanted the rotting flesh that the media have pounded so badly to remain with the WP torso, and hoped that the rot continues to spread to other parts of the body.

Never before has Singapore’s political scene been lit up by rumours of sexual scandals to such an extent. Make no mistake, prior to the Yaw scandal, it was not that Singapore’s political scene was squeaky clean; it was our mainstream media that was squeaky clean. As the saying goes – politics is a dirty game, I believe this applies to the local context as well.

Had the media treated the allegations over Yaw’s transgressions consistently like all the other rumours online, there would be little chance that things turn out this way today. It is worthy to note that even at this stage, everything remains to be allegations and rumours. George Yeo on Facebook, once held up the News of the World scandal as a testament of the ill effects of media’s overbearing role in society.

It turns out that Singapore’s media seems to be taking a cue from their UK counterparts in this saga.