A college student and daughter of a political leader in Singapore recently hit out at the views of a middle-class Singaporean. True to the idealism and evolving maturity that one finds in youth, she spared no punches, and even called the middle-class Singaporean names. She made her point, and her views sparked off more points.
Her father, a Member of Parliament, came out to defend her, and ended up rubbing salt to an open wound. Eventually, he had to apologise a second time. And now there are calls requesting him to resign.
This forest fire, which one blog has comprehensively followed and colourfully labelled "The Wee Shu-Min Affair a.k.a. [also known as] The Wee-Wee Saga/The Adventures of Elite Girl", rages on.
Readers have raised three questions relating to this matter:
1. How should one react to what the young person said?
2. What would I have done if I were the young person's father?
3. Should the young person's father step down as Member of Parliament?
HOW SHOULD ONE REACT TO WHAT THE YOUNG PERSON SAID?
I respect one's right to express oneself. And in the process of such expression, to have those views challenged, amended and/or revised. I have found personally that youth quite often enjoy more leeway, since people tend to take what such youths say in their stride. As such, I did not mind what this young person said.
But it was disturbing to me how people went after this young person, even pulling her family into the picture. Eventually, the issue received negative airing in the national press.
I don't think, if I was this young person, I would want my life scrutinised like that. Of course, this also means that, as a young person, I would take steps to protect my privacy, which I recognise was not done in this case.
I think it would have been better for individuals to focus on the views rather than seek to ruthlessly discredit a person. This whole incident to me is really a reflection of how ungracious or unforgiving we have become as a society. We label, we discredit and, eventually, we eliminate. How very unfortunate.
WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE IF I WERE THE YOUNG PERSON'S FATHER?
I would have recognised that every parent wants to create an environment where his / her child will be able to test views, to make mistakes, to learn from it and to grow. I would have emphasised this incident was therefore part of such a learning process for the child. Finally, as a parent, I would have apologised to individuals affected by my child's actions, and requested for some empathy in bringing this issue to a closure.
SHOULD THE YOUNG PERSON'S FATHER STEP DOWN AS MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT?
At the end of the day, this decision is out of the hands of the general public.
It is a matter for his constituents, his community leaders and his own political party members to decide, and to make known their views through avenues available to them.
If there is a real possibility that the whole incident could adversely affect the work of the Member of Parliament, the way forward may indeed be for him to step down.
Nevertheless, I think it is important to recognise how new this Member of Parliament is, and such teething problems are inevitable. Perhaps, it may be useful to give him some more time to fill the large shoes he has stepped into.