Workers' Party welcomes scrutiny on candidates, urges media to be responsible

Hougang MP Png Eng Huat (third right) and party chief Sylvia Lim with four candidates introduced on Aug 29, 2015.
Hougang MP Png Eng Huat (third right) and party chief Sylvia Lim with four candidates introduced on Aug 29, 2015. ST PHOTO: PEARL LEE

SINGAPORE - The Workers' Party (WP) welcomes scrutiny on its candidates but stresses that there must be evidence and that the media must be responsible by giving them the right of reply, said Hougang MP Png Eng Huat.

He was asked for the opposition party's response in light of a poison pen letter e-mailed to several media outlets on Thursday night, which alleged that National University of Singapore sociologist Daniel Goh had an affair with a former student in 2008.

"The Workers' Party welcomes scrutiny of our candidates. If you have any evidence, please talk to us because the Internet and e-mails are anonymous. So if you have any evidence, please tell us," said Mr Png, on Friday afternoon at the WP's Syed Alwi headquarters where a third round of candidates wer e introduced.

Asked what actions the WP would be taking, Mr Png said it "will leave it as it is" for now as Dr Goh has lodged a police report and added that it has come across such cases and "receive a lot, a lot of funny e-mails".

Mr Png, a member of the WP's Central Executive Council, also urged the media to be responsible and to abide by the deadline given to interviewees for their response before publishing their news reports.

"I understand that a newspaper actually put up a report online before the time is up and without giving Dr Goh time to respond," said Mr Png, without naming the media outlet.

"This is the run-up to the election, and all of us are very busy. So I hope the media can play a responsible role and understand that these are difficult, challenging times as we're running an election and time is not on our side."

One of four candidates introduced on Friday was real estate agent Ron Tan, 30, who called for media reports to be based on facts, in response to a question on whether they are concerned over media intrusion into their personal lives or becoming the subject of anonymous allegations.

"It's important in light of how society has advanced so far especially in terms of social media. You have to take into consideration that news do spread very fast and it's important to take note that news has to be based on facts," said Mr Tan, a new face.

He said the allegation was unfair to Dr Goh, after working with the latter in the past year.

"I truly believe that he is a man of integrity and honesty, and he does love his family very much," said Mr Tan.

The letter, which was sent by a "Max Chan" to the media outlets and also to WP chiefs Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim, alleged that Dr Goh had an affair in 2008 with an NUS postgraduate.

That night, Dr Goh said in statement posted on his Facebook page that he categorically refutes the "baseless accusations" and questioned the timing of the letter.

On Friday morning, Dr Goh, who was introduced as a candidate on Wednesday, lodged a police report. Hours later, the former student named in the letter told The Straits Times that her relationship with Dr Goh was a professional one.

"Dr Daniel Goh was a supervisor for my thesis at NUS. He also gave me advice on postgraduate studies. The relationship was a professional one," she said.