The People’s Action Party (PAP) will investigate the veracity of the allegations made against its former candidate Ivan Lim after the election, said the PAP’s Secretary-General Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (29 June), adding that people “cannot simply write off and destroy people like this”.
During the Party’s virtual press conference to unveil the candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC today, Mr Lee was asked about PAP’s candidate selection and Mr Lim’s withdrawal from the election amid the various allegations that have been made against him on social media.
In response, he noted that Mr Lim did the right thing to withdraw and not let the controversy be a distraction in the election. But he added that it should not be the end of the case.
“We can’t let such serious things be said about somebody and have somebody leave with a cloud permanently hanging over him, and a question mark,” Mr Lee asserted.
He said the case will “set a very damaging precedent” that one can condemn someone and “write him off” based on an Internet campaign.
“We don’t have time to settle it now, but we can’t simply write off and destroy people like this,” Mr Lee noted. “So after the elections, the Party will investigate the veracity of the allegations against Ivan and we will come to a view on the matter.”
With regards to the PAP’s candidate screening process, Mr Lee said the Party has a “thorough process” in selecting its candidates, but he acknowledged that there is no perfect candidate or process.
“We are putting together a team of man and women with varied backgrounds and experiences. They’ve been knocked about, they’ve learnt about life, they’ve made mistakes along the way, and hopefully have learnt from them,” he explained.
“I would say we have a good process, we have got good candidates, and we have got confidence in how the process has worked this time, and in the candidate line-up which we have produced and presented to you this election,” Mr Lee added.
Other than Mr Lim, other PAP candidates – including Temasek enterprise development director Shawn Huang and former Community Chest managing director Ng Ling Ling – have also been facing online criticisms over the past few days.
Following that, he indicated social media attacks are “not a new thing”, adding that the platform has made it very easy for people to make and pick up criticisms, and for it to be circulated and gain currency, whether or not they are well-founded.
“I think if we look for the perfect candidate, we will lose many good men and women,” Mr Lee stated. “And if we encourage a culture of trial by Internet, then we will not find anybody willing to stand and put themselves and their families through this ordeal, even if at the end of it they are able to clear themselves.”
Netizens reminded how members from the alternative parties were “attacked” by the PAP in the past
Meanwhile, Mr Lee’s remarks seem to have triggered some netizens to bring up about how the PAP “write off” some members from the alternative parties in the past.
One netizen penned under the section comment of Mothership Facebook post – which covered the news – noting that the PAP is “feeling uncomfortable” and “hard to receive” when people write off their new candidates, while they themselves will “usually” do the same thing to others who speak up against the Party.
Another netizen reminded about how the mainstream media has “attacked” and “witch-hunt” some of the young members from the alternative parties in the past, citing the case of Nicole Seah from the Workers’ Party (WP) who was being “attacked a lot” throughout the GE that she last contested in 2011 – which she was a candidate for the National Solidarity Party (NSP) then.
While one netizen, who goes by the name Martin Archie, wrote that the case reminded him of how members from the alternative parties – such as Singapore Democratic Party’s Chee Soon Juan, and writer Francis Seow – have to pay a “heavy price” for standing up to the PAP.
He added that the PAP has used “character assassination” method to “dissenters” and “eliminate” the alternative parties for years, and now it is doing the same thing to activists like Kirsten Han.
Separately, one netizen commented on The Straits Times’ Facebook post – which also covered the news – that Mr Lee’s remark is “ridiculous”.
He wrote that the PAP is trying to “deter” people from telling the truths, even though the individuals who criticised Ivan Lim on social media are “not anonymous” and they only shared about their past experiences with Mr Lim.