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#Ivangate: Netizen suggests Singaporeans “ownself check ownself first” to be a mature electorate

By June 30, 2020Current

TL;DR – Ivan Lim. Wrong place, wrong time. Tough luck, fall guy.

So yesterday I mustered the courage to drop Prof Ben Leong a PM and got him to say ‘YES’ to letting me republish one of my favourit-est Facebook notes/posts from him!

Omo, it’s Prof Ben Leong! Ivangate, Gutter Politics & What We’ve Learnt About Ourselves As a Nation

 

I’m on a roll yo!

Today, I ended up making a new friend online, and scored myself another interesting piece of writing! My new friend, Timothy Anand Weerasekera, wrote about the Ivan Lim saga, and urges all of us to “ownself check ownself first”!

He’s very nice, and has agreed to let me republish his entire post here.

But before I do that, there’s an important point that I’d like to point out. Both Mr Lawrence Wong and PM Lee have said these exact same words when asked about Ivangate by the media. They said,

  • No process is perfect.
  • No candidate is perfect.

Exactly!

PM Lee further made a second important point. He’d said today when unveiling the PAP candidates for the Ang Mo Kio GRC, that “we can’t simply write off and destroy people like this”.

And we should not encourage the culture of trial by internet.

I fully support mounting a full investigation into Ivangate  after GE2020. The truth needs to be told.

 

And now, are you ready for my new friend Timothy’s post on the Ivan Lim debacle?

On the Ivan Lim debacle

Ivan Lim. I don’t know him, but what happened to him shouldn’t have happened.

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Nobody deserves political office, but everybody deserves to be treated fair-mindedly – especially by a well-educated citizenry. Ivan was deprived of that. Instead, he was bandwagoned against by an internet mob triggered by accusations of “elitism”; the unfortunate victim of decades of pent-up frustration over Ivory tower politicians. Wrong place, wrong time. Tough luck, fall guy.

Ownself Check Ownself First

I think it’s important that we do a self-assessment on the way we see the world. Introspection is always healthy anyways right? Here are a few questions worth considering:

1) Do you have a poor opinion of Ivan Lim?

2) If so, is it based on first-hand experience, or anecdotes circulated online from his detractors?

3) Did due process feature in the formation of your opinion? For justice, has the other side been heard?

4) Have we controlled for the fact that gossip and slander spread faster than good news?

5) Have we accounted for the tendency that it’s more common for a bitter person to air a grievance on social media than for someone to express public appreciation or admiration in our culture?

Mature Parties Require a Mature Electorate

What troubles me more than parties which rely on personality over cogent policy platforms, is the electorate which bays for mature politics but then proves itself incapable of participating in it by falling for the oldest trick in the book: mudslinging.

Or perhaps, is this reflective of another type of political immaturity? Have we become so accustomed to squeaky clean politicians that a few people’s retelling of a bad experience with one immediately disqualifies them?

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Are we really so impressionable that subjective (and frankly petty) recounts can easily turn 20,000+ of us against another person just like that?

I think that if someone is going to complain about the car one drives to camp, that that person’s testimony should already be taken with a pinch of salt. If we’re going to judge people on whether they smile at their neighbours in elevators, then everybody already disqualified lor. (Except me, lol I smile at my neighbours all the time. But nobody smiles back 🤷‍♂️😢 )

Look, it’s absurd that we’ve judged this guy and jumped to conclusions so quickly. This reeks of the import of cancel culture and mob mentality. It betrays emotionalism and susceptibility to petty attacks which cleverly use known triggers like “elitist”. Worse of all, it shows our enemies, without and within, how we can be manipulated.

The Future of Candidate Preparation

How do you think this episode is going to inform the way parties prepare for their candidate introductions in the future? Now that much is going to go into the construction of a candidate’s profile, how can we trust future comments whether good OR bad? It is now reasonable to think that parties will seek to prepare the opinion seeding of future candidates in more deliberate ways. It is also reasonable to think that moneyed interests will seek to amplify smear campaigns against future candidates. This episode could possibly have rigged all future games making it genuinely difficult to separate fact from fiction.

A Better Way

Is it not better to adopt a personal perspective of believing for the best in people, or at bare minimum, believing innocent till proven guilty? We’ve seen this before. Remember the unfounded accusations againt Kavanaugh? Remember how the left went to town with #BelieveWomen only to later have the allegations either withdrawn or proven false? The “justice” of the court of public opinion is no justice at all. We must remember this if we are to be a civilised polity and not a culture of brute force mob rule.

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If we want to defend against the anarchy and breakdown of society like we are seeing in the West, it seems to me like we really need to go back to first principles:

Looking for the best in people, believing that everyone should be given a fair chance to prove themselves, and knowing that people can change over time.

I believe that people should be judged on the content of their character today, not who they were years ago or who the clamorous mob decries in an echo-chamber.

Oh also, Epstein didn’t kill himself and Ivan didn’t quit.

Timothy Anand Weerasekera

 

 

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Maggie O

Author Maggie O

Digital extrovert. Social introvert (warning: 93% introverted!) In the day, I work to put cai-png on the table and ice-cream in the fridge. In the night, I read a lot and write a little. Also, all views expressed in my contribution pieces here are based on my personal opinions, and they do not reflect the ideas, ideologies, or points of view of my employer (past, current and future).

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Brian says:

    I’d genuinely like to hear what you think people could have done differently in this situation. How else are they expected to voice their concerns about what they feel are a problematic candidate, if not online? While your article bandies around nice-sounding phrases like “mature electorate” and “everyone should be given a chance to prove themselves”, it gives no indication of what this would actually look like given the limitations of this election season. Was the RSM supposed to have meekly sent PM Lee a private message with his concerns? In my opinion, he had every reasonable chance to defend himself against the allegations, and he did in fact attempt to do so.

    Relatedly, I’m somewhat doubtful that Ivan would have so altruistically decided to quit the campaign so as “not to detract from the core issues”, without defending himself or pulling out all the traditional PAP tactics (defamation suits, POFMA), if he really thought he had a defensible position or plausible “other side” to hear about. But that’s really a different issue.

    • Tan kean Yap says:

      The whole saga has evolved into a very irrational personal attack on Ivan’s immediate family. Sadly to say, only a handful of people whose comments are genuine and they have experience working with Ivan, the rest I would say are mostly keyboard warriors as usual, comments by hearing what other says. Tough leader like Ivan is definitely not liked by all, especially for those who only work with him for very short period of time to be able to understand him. I have known him for more than 15 years since I started my 1st career with Keppel, I am always amazed with his burning passion and commitment at work. As the head of the project, he takes on pressure from the clients and the bosses, set direction for the project team, get his hands dirty to work days and nights with the team. End of the day, all who involved in the his project feel proud to be part of the team when they see the end result. His resignation as the candidate for this election is a loss for the party and the country, we need tough leader at tough times like this to tide us over.

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