Singapore Media Watch

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Workers' Party netiquette comes under fire - TODAY 25 October 2006

By Tor Ching Li


Some Workers' Party members have recently become entangled in an Internet forum "brawl" with mudslinging and name-calling aplenty - to the extent of sparking a thread on the Young People's Action Party online forum entitled "WP members being complained (sic) on internet forums." This has garnered more than 80 posts since Oct 14. (Read more...)


Our review

We find it incredulous that a "respected" paper like TODAY which claimed to be ranked "No 2 in readership" in a media survey last week chose to report on such a trivial matter like internet flaming by a few anonymous forumers who are purported to be members of an opposition party.
Flaming, mudslinging and impersonation of public figures are aplenty and common in local forums found even in the highly-regulated Young PAP forum. In the wireless world of the internet under the cover of anonymity, anybody can pose as anybody in an open forum where there are few restrictions to what one can post.

While it was true that a thread was started on the Young PAP forum on the WP saga, it was not mentioned that there are at least 5 threads on the same forum dedicated to AMK MP Mr Wee Siew Kim's reply to the Straits Times yesterday on her daughter's blog which had caused a furore in internet forums, attracting widespread criticism and condemnation from netizens.

With all due respect to Mr Goh who was on the losing team in the last General Election, Mr Wee is an elected Member of Parliament which makes him a more prominent public figure than Mr Goh and therefore we are baffled by the wide discrepancy in media coverage on the backlash in internet forums towards both of them.

Internet postings by "WP members" and even the complaint letter itself can only be taken with a pinch of salt and we are surprised the writer chose to report in such a way to give the impression that the following there were strong grounds in the allegations.

1. The heading of the article: "Workers' Party netiquette comes under fire" has already come to the conclusion that WP members did indeed "misbehave" on internet forums before any thorough analysis or investigation is conducted.

2. This conjecture was further lend support and credibility by the first sentence: "Some Workers' Party members have recently become entangled in an Internet forum "brawl" with mudslinging and name-calling aplenty" from which one can draw a reasonable inference that the persona involved are indeed WP members though there is no obvious evidence to pointing to it.

3. The contents of the "complaint letter" which can be at best traced to an anonymous person whose identity remains to be confirmed contains the following words in red detrimental to Mr Goh's reputation: "...was narrow-minded to have called a forum participant "scheming" and "lacking in integrity" after "losing an argument".

He also thought Mr Goh had threatened to sue another forum participant for implying that Mr Goh visited the www.sggirls.com forum."

Readers who don't know Mr Goh in person may be led to think his character is indeed as protrayed by the writer of the letter. The hidden message within is this: If Mr Goh is not even capable of handling a few anonymous forumers on an internet forum leading to a complaint against him, how can he be expected to serve in public office in the future with greater demands and responsibilities?

4. Lastly, the writer seeks to give readers the impression that WP members are generally disliked and unwelcomed by netizens even though there is only one person making the allegations in the complaint letter: In general, WP members were accused of being "argumentative", attempting to "sow discord" between various party supporters and even of taking the guise of online "clones" — or posting replies under alternative usernames — to "influence perception".

The article gave an overall impression that WP members are petty, ungentlemanly and crude. Though Ms Sylvia Lim has clarified that WP members participate in internet forums on their accord and what they say there do not represent the Party's stance, readers will naturally draw an association between the two.

Besides dismissing WP members as a bickering lot, the writer spared no efforts in lavishing generous accolades on the "foresight" of the PAP MPs in not engaging netizens directly and subtlely promoting the Young PAP forum at the expense of Sammyboy forum.

We found this comparison with Young PAP forums and the P65 blog unwarranted and irrelevant. It unwittingly gave PAP the moral high ground and a convenient excuse on why PAP MPs did not interact with citizens directly. This has been the subject of criticism by netizens for a long time and the records are now set right based on one single "fumble" by WP politicians.

Prof Ho's comments on serious blogs and forums making outlandish ones irrelevant is a jibe at Sammyboy Forum from which the controversy first began. Readers who are new to internet forums will invariably be led or misled to believe that Sammyboy lacks credibility compared to more established and regulated serious ones like Young PAP and P65. This ringing endorsement of the ruling party's cyberprojects will drive more curious netizens to embrace it.

WP is one of the more promising opposition parties to emerge after the recent GE. Its brand of moderate and constructive opposition led by a team mixed with experienced old guard and flamboyant youth won the hearts and imagination of many young Singaporeans who flock en masse to attend its rallies.

As the WP is finding renewed vigor and hope for the future, it is dealt an untimely blow to its fresh, crisp image by the media. Instead of reporting on WP's regular activities such as its walkabouts and outreach programmes found on its website (www.wp.org.sg), it is deplorable the media chose to focus on a trivial matter on internet forums which protray WP members in a negative manner.

This may have a detrimental impact on the party's recruitment drive in the near future as Singaporeans are generally averse to mudslinging and personal attacks in politics. However, with the next election still 5 years away, the party has ample time to reflect and learn from its mistakes and rebuild its reputation again.

14 Comments:

  • TODAY should do an article on the amount of flak PAP gets on the internet. But i guess balance and fairmess are journalistic conventions that the 146th has never heard of.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:57 PM  

  • I am a WP supporter and I must admit I am very disappointed with the actions of Perry and Goh Meng Seng. No doubt TODAY blow it up, but they shouldn't have done this in the first place, it reflect very very badly on the WP. The damage done may never be undone.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:59 PM  

  • I agree, all my friends are having a good laugh at our dear Perry, who does he think he is???

    Anybody can use any email to log on to delphiforums, he must be a net kuku.

    By Anonymous Merry_Berry, at 3:12 PM  

  • I'm a frequent visitor to SBF and can attest to it that WP members there are really deplorable, so I am not surprised somebody actually write in a complaint letter to the CEC, but how did the media come to know about this? Did somebody in the CEC or WP forward the email to the media? As the saying goes "don't wash your dirty linen in public". I half suspect there may be an internal spilt in WP and somebody is trying to purge GMS.

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