The Workers’ Party (WP) candidate, Daniel Goh, has urged the public not to respond to smearing with smearing.
Dr Goh, who is an Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore, posted the advice on his Facebook page on Friday, a day after the local mainstream media reported what was a poison-pen letter sent to them and WP leaders.
The letter, reportedly by one “Max Chan” had made allegations of personal impropriety on the part of Dr Goh.
The mainstream news outlets which reported it, however, seem to have only parroted what the letter writer alleged, without providing evidence or proof of the allegation.
This has led to many online who have expressed support for Dr Goh, and have condemned what they see as gutter politics by the mainstream media, which is controlled by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) Government.
The chairman of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), for example, which controls most of the print media in Singapore, is chaired by a former PAP minister.
As for the allegations, Dr Goh has refuted it with a statement on his Facebook page on Thursday itself, which has since garnered almost 2,000 “likes”.
In that post, Dr Goh also said that his wife expressed support for him.
Dr Goh said he wasn’t home when he was first notified of the reports, but that his wife later texted him:
“Forget it. Either you’re so threatening they need to stoop so low or they are soboh liao. I think your (all of you) time is better spent resting. Nothing to it. You know it’s bound to happen, gutter politics. No need to convince me. Make the meeting with Low chop chop. Tell him your wife says you need to sleep.”
Economist Donald Low also spoke out against what he described as “gutter journalism” by the media:
As the reports went viral, supporters of Dr Goh questioned not just the veracity of the letter from “Max Chan’, but also questioned if the mainstream media should publish such reports which are based on nothing more than hearsay, or a poison-pen letter which incidentally claimed the alleged incident had happened seven years ago.
It also led to some who directed their anger at a colleague of Dr Goh who, apparently, had posted about the news reports on the Hardware Zone online forum platform.
Hardware Zone is owned by SPH.
Dr Goh’s colleague has been castigated for allegedly being the “Max Chan” who had written that email to the media and WP leaders.
Dr Goh, however, says this is not true.
He posted on his Facebook page on Friday:
“Hello everyone, there seems to be an allegation against Han Ming Guang in the hardwarezone forums for being the poison pen author. Ming Guang apologised to me for being impulsive in sharing the Zaobao news in the forums and said he is not the author. I believe him. Please don’t respond to smearing with smearing because this is not healthy for our country. Lets focus on the issues at hand.”
In 2012, blogger Alex Au was asked to remove a comment he had posted on his own blog about a minister which was deemed by the latter’s lawyers to be potentially defamatory. (See here.)