SINGAPORE – On Wednesday (July 19), the public and supporters of the Workers’ Party (WP) were undoubtedly shocked by the announcement of the resignation of Leon Perera, Member of Parliament (MP) for Aljunied GRC, and Nicole Seah, the party’s Youth Wing President.
During a press conference on the same day, Workers’ Party Secretary-General Pritam Singh revealed that the two former members had not been forthcoming when initially confronted with the allegations.
Mr Singh clarified that in late 2020 and early 2021, a driver informed him via WhatsApp about the allegations, claiming that Mr Perera and Ms Seah were frequently seen together in hotels and restaurants, even holding hands.
However, at that time, there was no evidence or corroborative information to support the allegation. When confronted by Mr Singh and other party members, Mr Perera and Ms Seah vehemently denied the claims.
Mr Perera mentioned an ongoing dispute with the driver, stating his intention to terminate the driver’s service and seek legal advice on the matter.
The situation took a turn when a video featuring both former WP members emerged on Monday (17 Jul).
This was the first time the WP leaders saw such a video, and upon being confronted again, Mr Perera and Ms Seah admitted to having an affair. They clarified that the affair had started after General Election 2020 but had ended some time ago.
Both PAP and WP leaders requested the public to grant their departing members the necessary space to heal
Mr Singh requested all Singaporeans to give Mr Perera and Ms Seah, both of whom are married, the necessary space to heal and be with their families and loved ones.
On the other hand, Prime Minister and Secretary-General of the PAP, Lee Hsien Loong, also announced the resignation of Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and Member of Parliament Cheng Li Hui due to their inappropriate relationship — the same day that the video of the two former WP members was leaked.
He also urged all Singaporeans to give both Mr Tan and Ms Cheng, as well as their families, space and time to heal from the episode.
Strangely, Singaporean Chinese media outlet Shin Min Daily News, possibly seeking sensational news, decided to interrupt Mr Perera’s personal life as he was leaving his home, which resulted in heavy criticism from netizens.
Shin Min’s reported visit to Mr Perera’s private residence
According to a report from Shin Min Daily News, a reporter visited Mr Perera’s private residence shortly after the WP press conference concluded on Wednesday.
The news mentioned that a Chinese woman, possibly Mr Perera’s wife, appeared and declined to be interviewed upon learning their identity. She quickly returned indoors, closing the curtains behind her.
Shortly afterwards, a private hire car stopped in front of Mr Perera’s home, and he stepped out, keeping his head down throughout. Within 5 seconds, he swiftly got into the car and left.
The news reported that according to the reporter’s observation, Mr Perera was wearing a mask and appeared solemn.
Shin Min faces backlash for lack of empathy toward the resigning MP’s families
However, Shin Min’s report soon faced ridicule from several netizens who sarcastically pointed out why the media outlet singled out Mr Perera and didn’t engage in similar intrusions towards both resigning PAP members, Mr Tan and Ms Cheng.
Furthermore, some heavily criticized the Chinese media outlet for lacking empathy towards the former MP’s family, stressing the importance of giving them space to heal, and questioning the news premise’s journalistic ethics.
A netizen also commented on Shin Min’s Facebook post, saying: “We are also interested in knowing the current situation of the other pair, thank you.”
The other sarcastically commented: “What’s the big deal with him? What’s wrong? He’s just an MP, why make such a fuss about him? The focus should be on the Speaker and the female Member of Parliament! Go find some inside information to report, that’s what will grab readers’ attention!”
More netizens roasted Shin Min with witty comments:
“Then, did anyone visit Mr Tan Chuan-Jin?”
“It seems like the media doesn’t dare to pursue ‘man-in-white’ news.”
“If you have so much free time, why don’t you go and find TCJ or CLH? This is just turning into paparazzi mode. Shameful.”
Netizens urge media to respect privacy and give families space amid controversial reporting
Meanwhile, other comments criticized Shin Min for failing to show empathy towards the families. They emphasized that even if the politician has done wrong, it should not lead to going after and harassing their innocent family members.
“One person’s actions should be borne by that person alone. Reporters, please exercise restraint and stop causing harm to innocent family members!”
“What is the standard for journalistic ethics? Shouldn’t it include impartiality and avoiding bias?”
“The state media should be more considerate and give space to the individuals’ families instead of pursuing them to their doorstep! You have already stooped to being paparazzi!
Why don’t you continue digging into why, despite knowing the situation, “Brother Loong” (possibly referring to PM Lee) still allowed TCJ to be the Speaker of Parliament and hold other important positions!”
“They said to give them some private space to handle everything. Then why are you still taking photos of them?”
‘Shin Min should focus on the more pressing issue’
Meanwhile, some comments are reminding Shin Min that there are more pressing issues that the press should be concerned about, including the recent corruption probe by CPIB towards Minister Iswaran and the follow-up on the Ridout Road saga.
A netizen wrote: “As for me personally, I am more interested in this particular couple’s situation.”
“(Mr Perera) has already resigned from the party! Why is the media still relentlessly pursuing him? What about Mr Tan and Ms Cheng! The investigation on Minister Iswaran! The Black and White Bungalow (issue)… Why have they disappeared from coverage? Why does it seem like only targeting the opposition party! Where is your conscience? They are all human beings with parents! I hope the media can report fairly!”