When 76 year-old Ms Rene Yap brought up her financial woes at Mr Hri Kumar’s forum for Thompson-Toa Payoh residents about the Central Provident Fund, she had requested for Mr Hri Kumar’s help with “getting her money back”, or rather what she felt was due to her in her CPF account.
She might not have realised that it has started a cyber-lynching effort against her.
“That’s all I want. Give me back my money,” she said. “CPF, give me back my money. And make it as soon as possible. Because (at) 76, I won’t be able to live (long). I got to ask… God to make me live 50 years to get my RA (Retirement Account) back. So will you please?”
At the end of the forum, Mr Hri Kumar reportedly told The Sunday Times: “This is a resident who has an issue. I spoke with her personally after the dialogue and I’ll be doing my best to assist her. She’s a resident in one of the landed estates in Thomson.”
Unfortunately, this indication of where Ms Yap could be living might have led some online sleuths to “uncover” her residential address, in a bid to discredit her need for her CPF reserves.
In an image post titled “Feeling sorry for her? She stays in a bigger house than you”, Fabrications About the PAP (FAP), a Facebook page known for its support of the ruling People’s Action Party, published a picture of the front of Ms Yap’s home, including the street name of the property.
“Auntie chose not to withdraw her CPF at 55,” the post charged. “Auntie has been receiving monthly payouts; auntie is well to do. Auntie asked for some flexibility on her remaining CPF, but now used as a political tool by irresponsible opposition…”
The post incited many to accuse her of making a sham of her poverty, alluding that Ms Yap could have sold her house to support herself instead of asking for the return of the money in her retirement account. Others, however, agreed that her money should be returned to her.
At time of publishing, the post garnered more than 220 shares and more than 556 comments.
FAP did not indicate whether MS Yap owns or rents the pictured property, only that she stays there. Nevertheless, the post by FAP could be a breach of personal privacy, and there are many necessary questions pertaining the revelation.
Why was it even relevant for Mr Hri Kumar to mention that Ms Yap stays in a landed property, and has it caused unnecessary lynching behaviour by selected members of the online community?
Would FAP bear the responsibility for hate crime committed against the building and its occupants?
How did FAP come to know about Ms Yap’s address? Did anyone among Mr Kumar’s grassroots leaders reveal her address to members of FAP? Or did members of FAP stalk Ms Yap to her home following the forum? Will Mr Kumar conduct an investigation to find out?
Does Mr Hri Kumar support such a posting by known supporters of the PAP?
TOC has posed some of these questions to Mr Hri Kumar. At time of publishing, Mr Hri Kumar has not replied. We will include his replies once we receive them.
TOC sought Mr Hri Kumar’s view on this issue, not only because the incident happened during his forum, but also because Mr Hri Kumar has spoken out previously against the hateful conduct online.
“There are many instances online where people snap photographs of others in public spaces for the purpose of subjecting them to online ridicule and scorn,” he had said. “The question is whether we as a society find this acceptable, and if not, whether the Government should step in.”
It is not clear if Mr Hri Kumar’s statement was meant to cover potential breaches in personal privacy as well.
Update: From a person whom have spoke with Ms Rene, he said that Ms Rene’s house is inherited and co-owned with 3 siblings, whom she has poor relations with. So she cannot easily downgrade even if she wants.