An Internet election has taught me the power of social media and our dual role as citizens and netizens today. With greater scrutiny comes more uninvited attacks—baseless or not—and of course, greater vigilance of the candidates and crisis management on the Party’s leadership becomes a crucial skill.
Whilst this article does not attempt to investigate the truth behind the accusations towards the individuals, we placed the responses of the accused, party leadership, and a bonus feature—their comrades’ reactions to the matter—in a parallel fashion to juxtapose the crisis management between the two.
Yours to judge.
1. Allegations against the accused
Ivan Lim faced four main allegations:
- Bribery case in Brazil
- “Arrogant” and “elitist behaviour” towards NSmen
- Poor treatment of workers at Keppel
- Unfriendly to neighbours
- Two police reports were lodged against Miss Khan for her twitter remarks made in February 2018 and May 2020.
- The alleged offence falls under Section 298A of the Penal Code “of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race”.
2. Timeline of Events
- 25 June – Various online criticisms on Lim were surfaced.
- 27 June – First assistant secretary-general, Heng Swee Keat calls out for Lim to address the allegation. In an interview with TODAY, Mr. Heng said,
“We expect our candidates to be able to stand up and address any concerns that were raised about them.”
- 27 June, 1:30 pm – On the same day, Lim addressed the criticisms levelled at him in a press cover note. He expressed that he is “determined to stay the course and to serve” if elected at GE2020.
- 27 June, 10 pm – However, later that night, Lim withdrew from GE2020 in a letter addressed to PAP Secretary-General, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong. In his letter, he also states that the controversy has caused “intense pain and stress” for his family.
- 4 and 5 July – 2 police reports were made against Khan.
- 5 July, 4:35 pm – Singapore Police Force released a statement to begin the investigation on the reports made over the weekend.
- 5 July, 11:30 pm – Accompanied by WP leaders, Khan made a public apology in the presence of the media. She explained that “her intention was never to cause any social division” and apologised “to any racial group or any community which is hurt” by her comments.
3. Party Leaders’ Responses
PAP — Response came 2 days later:
Through an exchange of letters, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Secretary-General of PAP, accepted Lim’s withdrawal. In the letter, Mr. Lee also explained that due to the nature of the campaign, they “do not have time for a thorough investigation” yet.
Subsequently, Mr. Xie Yao Quan (also Mr. Ong Ye Kung’s cousin) was introduced by the PAP to replace Lim.
WP—Response came on the day of allegation:
Mr. Pritam Singh, Secretary-General of WP, was present at the informal “press conference” and took the questions from the floor. On his position on Khan’s candidacy, he expressed that he would be disappointed if his candidates try to “sanitise their past as they should be upfront and authentic to the public, this is who they are” and “in any event whether there are certain posts or comments that are untoward, then I would expect them to explain themselves”.
4. Teammates’ Responses
Not applicable as Mr. Lim pulled out before nomination day. Otherwise, his prospective teammates would have been Miss Rahayu Mahzam, Mr. Shawn Huang, Mr. Tan Wu Meng, and leader Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
Miss Khan’s teammates—Dr. Jamus Lim, Miss He Ting Run, and Mr. Louis Chua—who are contesting in Sengkang GRC were present during the 5 July informal media address. In Mr. Singh’s words:
“Their presence here today already should give you an indication of what sort of team spirit the Sengkang WP team has.”
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