Below the belt

Posted: April 25, 2011 in Politics
Tags: , , ,

Four potential candidates from the People’s Action Party, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Liang Eng Hwa, Christopher de Souza and Sim Ann, issued a signed statement about Singapore Democratic Party’s candidate, Vincent Wijeysingha. The full statement, taken from the website of AsiaOne, is reproduced below:

A video has been posted on the internet showing Vincent Wijeysingha participating at a forum which discussed the promotion of the gay cause in Singapore.

The discussion at the forum also touched on sex with boys and whether the age of consent for boys should be 14 years of age.

In the video, Wijeysingha was introduced as being from the SDP.

In addition to other comments, Wijeysingha stated: ‘I think the gay community has to rally ourselves. Perhaps one outcome of today’s forum would be, for those of us who are interested, to come together to further consider how we can address the 377 issue as well as further rights issues in relation to gays and lesbians.’

We believe that candidates should be upfront about their political agenda and motives, so that voters are able to make an informed choice.

The issue is not Wijeysingha’s sexual orientation. That is a matter for him.

The video raises the question on whether Wijeysingha will now pursue this cause in the political arena and what is the SDP’s position on the matter.

Vivian Balakrishnan
Liang Eng Hwa
Christopher de Souza
Sim Ann

The first four paragraphs of the statement appear factual. The first paragraph provided the purpose of the forum Wijeysingha was involved in, which was “promotion of the gay cause.”

The next paragraph highlighted two controversial issues that were discussed at the forum, namely sex with boys and age of consent for sex with boys. The statement glaringly omitted other issues that were brought up for discussion.

By putting the words “promotion of the gay cause” just before the topics sex with boys and age of consent for sex with boys, the unsuspecting reader may be misled into thinking that the forum is promoting sex with boys, and that Wijeysingha was participating in such a morally objectionable forum.

In addition, the statement cherry-picked a sentence Wijeysingha said to scare the unsuspecting reader into thinking that Wijeysingha will push for gay rights in, to quote the statement, “the political arena” when Wijeysingha had not expressly said so.

The four potential PAP candidates also did not give the context in which Wijeysingha made his comments. What exactly did Wijeysingha say before and after that cherry-picked quote? The context was, once again, glaringly omitted.

The sentence about Wijeysingha’s sexual orientation being, to quote the statement, “a matter for him” appeared to be for the purpose of sowing seeds of doubt or fear. The key point of the statement is Wijeysingha’s motives and that sentence could have been omitted without affecting the argument the four potential PAP candidates are making.

Political contests are usually not clean fights. Mud raking and slinging are part and parcel of the political process, but they do come at a risk. Independents and PAP supporters may be turned off by what could be perceived as an under the belt attack on a competing candidate.

Editor’s addendum, April 26:

Former Nominated Member of Parliament Siew Kum Hong has written a short, clear and stinging rebuke worthy of reading regarding the four potential PAP candidates’ press statement mentioned in this entry. The link to his blog can be found under Blogroll in the left column.

  1. Amused says:

    If Balakrishnan were a PAP candidate and the gang of four were from an opposition party, you can almost be certain that a lawsuit would promptly follow and the four bankrupted and jailed in short order. This is why it is so hard to be an opposition in Singapore. The playing field is not leveled and is more like a minefield for opposition parties.

  2. Dead Poet says:

    Friends, Vivian and the rest of the his team (they signed the statement) have shown us what kind of low life they are. These people have reached the lowest level of gutter politics and belong in the gutter, with the rest of the shit. Let’s do all we can to ensure they do not win. For once let’s put our disgust to action and persude friends and family to vote aginst them.

  3. Aurvandil says:

    In the reply to VV’s press release, the SDP issued a youtube. In that youtube, SDP questioned VV on the YOG spending and asked VV to release the YOG accounts. VV had spent a huge amount of money and there are a lot of unanswered questions. Previously, Goh Meng Seng of the NSP had done the following youtube to put the YOG spending in perspective to the problems currently faced by Singapore.

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