At the Raffles Institution Nomination Centre on Tuesday, People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate, Ng Eng Hen, gave a speech after his team had submitted its nomination forms and was declared to be candidates for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
While Dr Ng was doing so, the crowd on both sides got excited, as can be seen from the reaction – the PAP side waving their flags and cheering, while the WP supporters also waved their flags but were jeering.
“We have educated Singaporeans to behave in a way that is right, not like these supporters who are just jeering,” Dr Ng said, taunting and pointing at the WP supporters. “All they can do is jeer.”
And as Dr Ng was speaking, his fellow candidate, newbie Chee Hong Tat, showed a clenched right fist to the crowd.
He apparently raised a clenched fist towards first the Workers’ Party (WP) supporters and then towards his own group of supporters, apparently oblivious to the fact that such a gesture is an offensive one, or one of aggression.
His gesture did not go unnoticed.
Watch the video here (from 50th seconds onwards):
After the day’s proceedings were over, a group of Reform Party supporters and members of the public told The Online Citizen (TOC) that they found Mr Chee’s gesture highly offensive.
“How could he do that?” one of them told TOC. “This is unacceptable. Wasn’t he a civil servant? Why is he behaving like that?”
Mr Chee was Second Permanent Secretary for Trade and Industry before he resigned to join the PAP to run as a candidate.
Even Independent Scholar and former Senior Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Derek de Cunha, chided Mr Chee for the gesture.
“As I looked up and saw Mr Chee’s right arm raised with clenched fist thrusting in my direction and what appeared to be a snarling face, I was quite taken aback, and I remarked to others around me that this was highly inappropriate,” Mr de Cunha posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
“Mr Chee then turned to the PAP side of the field and he also showed a clenched fist. And, if you can believe it or not, he then beat his chest with his fist. (Did he think he was Tarzan?) He kept on showing a clenched fist.”
Mr Murty SP said, “I was at the nomination centre at Raffles Institution and was taken aback by the first gesture (A raised clenched fist towards the opposition supporters collective, just short of a middle finger). It was shocking,aggressive and offensive.This is an election first as I have yet to recall any candidate, past and present and from both political divides, making this gesture towards a partisan crowd. The candidate did not stop with this gesturing and continued bating the crowd with more raised fists.I never expected politics to descend to these levels!”
Mr Chee was recently in the news after he was introduced as a candidate for the PAP, for reversing his position on the learning of the second language.
In 2009, he had written to the press to slam those who decried the loss of dialects and said that to call for dialects to be taught was “stupid”. After the letter came to light again recently, he was criticised for his position on it.
Later, he reversed his position and said that he now supports the learning of dialects, but only if it is done in private.