PICTURES, VIDEO

MP Baey Yam Keng: I am surprised and flattered by the interest in my "selfies"

A June 28 photo of Mr Baey on a hammock prompted Mr Shah Salimat, editor-in-chief of pop culture website Popspoken to write an Aug 5 article on what he considered to be Mr Baey's best selfies. "I'd never seen a politician in Singapore post selfies be
A June 28 photo of Mr Baey on a hammock prompted Mr Shah Salimat, editor-in-chief of pop culture website Popspoken to write an Aug 5 article on what he considered to be Mr Baey's best selfies. "I'd never seen a politician in Singapore post selfies before," Mr Salimat said. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey snapped a shot of himself refreshed after an evening run on Aug 5. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey snapped a shot of himself refreshed after an evening run on Aug 5. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey snapped a self-shot during his RazorTV interview on Aug 14. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey snapped a self-shot during his RazorTV interview on Aug 14. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
In the spirit of the nation's birthday, Mr Baey wished his 2000 followers a Happy National Day on Aug 9 with a selfie. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
In the spirit of the nation's birthday, Mr Baey wished his 2000 followers a Happy National Day on Aug 9 with a selfie. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey showed his followers his new prescription reading glasses on Aug 6. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey showed his followers his new prescription reading glasses on Aug 6. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey paused for a selfie while working at the Parliament library on Aug 5. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey paused for a selfie while working at the Parliament library on Aug 5. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey posted a selfie of himself wearing a mask on June 20. The photo was accompanied with a message urging residents to take care during the haze. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey posted a selfie of himself wearing a mask on June 20. The photo was accompanied with a message urging residents to take care during the haze. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey posted a before and after comparison at a park, Tampines Eco Green. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey posted a before and after comparison at a park, Tampines Eco Green. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey snapped a photo of himself on June 12 while checking out the new safety mirrors installed in Tampines. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey snapped a photo of himself on June 12 while checking out the new safety mirrors installed in Tampines. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey sampled a date at the first ever Tampines Hari Raya Bazaar. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG
Mr Baey sampled a date at the first ever Tampines Hari Raya Bazaar. -- PHOTO BY: BAEY YAM KENG

As a politician, Mr Baey Yam Keng is no stranger to public scrutiny.

But the MP for Tampines GRC wasn't quite prepared for the sudden buzz surrounding the "selfies" - or self-taken photos of his face - which he posted on his Instagram account.

Mr Baey, who turns 43 on Aug 31, was crowned "selfie crush" by a pop-culture website called Popspoken on Aug 5. It collated what it called the MP's "hottest 10 selfies".

"I was quite surprised and a bit flattered that someone took enough notice of my selfies," he told The Straits Times. "I appreciate it as I thought it's quite a positive article."

He started posting photos, ranging from snapshots of his workout regime to meetings with residents, on the photo-sharing account late last year.

He has also posted pictures of his meals, although none with his family. He is married to playwright Lim Hai Yen, 42, and they have three children.

But it is his self-portraits, taken at various venues such as at a gym, in the library of Parliament House, and at a cosplay event, that have caused quite a stir online.

While some are not supportive of him taking selfies, most have given him the thumbs up. One Instagram user praised him for "engaging Singaporeans through online interaction". This was in response to an Aug 13 photo of Mr Baey posing beside RazorTV equipment at an interview with The Straits Times RazorTV.

Mr Baey, who posts selfies about three times a week, knows that not everybody would take to them, citing one who threatened to stop following him on Instagram.

"When I first took a selfie, I was quite cautious and not sure about how the public would react," he said. He is heartened, however, by the fact that his selfies have garnered him more followers and much more positive response.

Mr Shah Salimat, 21, editor-in-chief of Popspoken, said he was surprised to see a politician here post photos of himself and said it gives Mr Baey a "human touch".

"It's very refreshing that an MP uses social media like any other normal person would," the full-time national serviceman said.

Mr Baey believes social media helps bridge the distance between politicians and the public. He isn't stopping at Instagram - he is thinking of getting a Tumblr blog, too.

"I hear it is popular now," he said. "It could be useful as a channel of engagement with the public."

yunitaso@sph.com.sg

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