Is Tin Pei Ling a victim of ‘gutter journalism’?

Alicia Wong
SingaporeScene

Are netizens justified in digging into new PAP candidate Tin Pei Ling's personal life? (Yahoo! photo)

Some have termed it her baptism of fire, while others call it an online smear campaign.

Either way, personal photos of 27-year-old Tin Pei Ling have been hijacked from her Facebook page and published on websites, and questions have been raised about her marriage to a high-flying civil servant and her allegedly "extravagant lifestyle".

Tin has been at the centre of an online storm since she was unveiled on Monday as the People's Action Party's (PAP) youngest candidate for the coming General Election since former Member of Parliament (MP) Ng Kah Ting was fielded in 1963 at the age of 23.

Tin, who is a senior associate at Ernst & Young Advisory, has been serving in the grassroots for seven years and is expected to contest in the MacPherson ward in the Marine Parade group representation constituency (GRC).

When contacted by Yahoo! Singapore, Tin declined to comment on the online postings, preferring to let the furor calm down.

But others have been quick to make their stand.

Former nominated MP Siew Kum Hong lamented the online frenzy in a post on his blog on Tuesday: "What has been happening on the Internet (especially Facebook) since (Tin was unveiled as a PAP candidate) has been nothing short of disgusting."

Pointing out that little is known about Tin's competence and suitability as an MP and her policy positions, Siew urged netizens to give Tin "a chance to show what she would be like as an MP, instead of digging up all this personal stuff".

"I find what has happened to be quite offensive and reprehensible," he wrote, adding that such "gutter journalism" would deter people, including him, from joining politics.

Some posters, however, felt such 'attacks' are to be expected in politics, and that the PAP had dealt with the opposition politicians in the same way.

One netizen, who goes by the moniker johntoh, posted on website The Temasek Review, "So all the extremely negative comments made about Tin here, is just purely a reflection of the way PAP goes about their "business" in destroying their opponents as well."

"Websites that say they want to help raise the level of Singapore's political discourse shouldn't go lower than the politicians themselves," wrote academic and journalist Cherian George on journalism.sg, urging netizens to exercise discretion.

George added, "The truth is that the political parties have been more civilized than they've been given credit for."

"Think back to the Workers' Party's calm under fire when attacked by the PAP over the so-called James Gomez affair. And consider the restraint that the PAP showed over the sensational revelations about one Opposition leader's penchant for photographing himself in the nude."

On people who have dismissed the possibility that someone so young could serve in Parliament, George said, "I recall feeling similarly skeptical when Eunice Olsen was put up as an NMP. She proved me wrong and I have learnt not to prejudge."

In an editorial, The Online Citizen also tried to draw netizens' focus to a discussion on PAP's election strategy by fielding Tin.

Private photos, making insinuations about Tin's marriage and private lifestyle choices are "not fair game" and "are irrelevant to whether or not you should vote for her", their writer said.

What do you think?

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