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Focus on the merits of candidate’s policies as opposed to character assassinations

By Ghui

As Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton battle it out at their respective nomination bids, all gloves are off, as attacks between the various candidates get personal. While the world watches, entertained and appalled in equal measure, a political game that is proving to be just as gripping is brewing in our own backyard – the Bukit Batok by-elections which see veteran opposition politician Dr. Chee Soon Juan pitted against Mr Murali Pillai from the incumbent PAP-led administration.

In the build up to an election in the midst of campaign fever, it would be expected for competing candidates to find new ways to persuade the electorate of why they are more electable than the competition. The most ethical way of so doing is to focus strictly on the merits of your own policies as opposed to character assassination. Obviously, this is much easier said than done as the line between mud slinging and acceptable self-promotion are often blurred. In the heat of debates, political tit for tad is unsurprising.

Like clockwork, a number of PAP stalwarts have stepped up to show their support for Mr Pillai by criticising Dr Chee. What has left me slightly disappointed is the degree to which such PAP members would go just to attack Dr Chee. Most of the criticisms have been focused on Dr Chee in his personal capacity as opposed to on his policies!

For instance, Mdm Halimah Yacob has publicly questioned Dr Chee’s values over the hyped up incident of Dr Chee shouting at then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. Personally, I think this is a cheap shot at Dr. Chee. Surely Mdm Haliman should have more worthy criticism against Dr. Chee than an incident that happened so many years ago! Particularly because defamation suits, which bankrupted Dr. Chee, were instituted over that alleged shouting incident. Even if that incident was an oversight on Dr Chee’s part, surely he has more than paid the price? Besides, many are not even convinced that what he did was that bad anyway.

Read more: Mdm Halimah Yacob's speech gets lambasted by netizens for character assassination

In an election that is only called because of an MP that was caught with his pants down, it seems pretty rich for Mdm Halimah to be talking about values? Besides, has she forgotten the many insults that the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew once heaped on Dr. Chee?

Just as I thought it could not get pettier, enter PAP’s Grace Fu to give the term irony a whole new meaning by taking issue with Dr Chee’s employment status! If I am not mistaken, Dr. Chee’s employment record (or lack thereof) was caused in part by the incumbent government’s manifold lawsuits against Dr. Chee! (read more)

Perhaps Ms Fu’s intention was to paint Dr Chee as some sort of unemployed scrounger who lazes around aimlessly all day. In this she couldn’t be further from the truth. Dr. Chee has been active in politics against all odds. He has written numerous articles and books. He has played an ongoing role in the Singapore Democratic Party. Far from whiling his time away, Dr Chee has been meaningfully engaged in legitimate activity!

Besides, does Ms Fu not deem politicians as being gainfully employed? Was ex Labour Party leader Ed Milliband of Britain someone who did not hold a steady job too?

Despite all his set backs, Dr Chee has always doggedly bounced back. Whatever your political convictions may be, his devotion and fortitude is unquestionably admirable. Through the ups and downs of his political career, Dr. Chee would arguably have gained much experience, insight and empathy. To say that he is not a good choice as an MP because he lacks work experience, therefore lacks credibility and depth.

Instead of having incisive political debates on issues that affect Singapore, this election campaign has delved into the petty personal that detracts from what should really be examined!

Surely the PAP has better things to critique Dr Chee with?

To add even more pettiness into the campaign, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has also waded in and accused Dr. Chee of being racist on the account of some comments posted by some members of the public on Dr. Chee’s Facebook page. While I do not condone the contents of those comments, I do not think that it is fair to hold Dr. Chee responsible for comments that have not been made by him.

Read more - PM accuses Dr Chee of being a racist for failing to remove comments on his Facebook

He is busy on the campaign trail and does not have the support of an entire administration machine. In light of this, surely Dr. Chee can be forgiven for not having the time to comb through all of the comments on a daily basis. Perhaps PM Lee with a strong administration army behind him does not realise that most people do not have that degree of support!

The Bukit Batok residents deserve a better quality of election campaigning!