Written by Ng E-Jay
11 February 2012
As the furore over Hougang MP Yaw Shin Leong’s alleged extra-marital affairs grows, it has become very clear that now is the time for both the Worker’s Party (WP) as well as Mr Yaw to clean. If Mr Yaw fails to do so, he must be considered unfit for political office, and should resign from his MP position accordingly, triggering a by-election in Hougang.
The newspapers have been on the issue for more than a couple of weeks now. It would be fair for WP and for Mr Yaw to remain silent on the issue only if no new information had surfaced and public interest in the matter had quietened down, although I had previously opined that Mr Yaw has the duty to come clean with the public in order to put the matter to rest once and for all, and safeguard the women involved from further harassment.
Unfortunately, new developments since the scandal first broke have further implicated Mr Yaw and solidified public perception against him.
For example, a person claiming to be Mr Yaw’s neighbour had written an email dated 30 January to the media to suggest that the opposition MP may have had an affair with a married tuition teacher from China. This is over and above the alleged affair with the WP member who is supposedly named “Angela” last year, as well as an alleged affair with a woman from the same church as Mr Yaw who is supposedly one of the unidentified whistle blowers according to certain online rumours.
Speaking to New Paper reporters, the married PRC woman initially maintained that her relationship with Mr Yaw was strictly professional. However over the course of the media interview, she became emotional and broke down, admitting to having had an affair with Mr Yaw, in order “to prove her capacity“.
The PRC lady explained that she had worked with Mr Yaw for about two years, and had helped him on the translation of a Chinese speech meant for the ministerial salary debate in Parliament on 17 Jan.
Mr Yaw married his current wife, Madam Lau Wang Lin, in November 2008. According to mainstream media sources, Madam Lau had been Mr Yaw’s counting and polling agent in the 2006 General Elections. Madam Lau had initially posted a FaceBook message slamming the media for malicious reporting, but she later deleted the message. Apparently, Mr Yaw must had told her something she had not previously known, and that something could not have been very good.
In fact, this is Mr Yaw’s second marriage. He was previously married in 2004 to a certain Ms Ng Mei Sze, but it was a brief marriage lasting only a year. Ms Ng has since clarified to the media that infidelity was not the reason for their breakup. She did not, however, specify the actual reason for the divorce.
Before getting hitched to Ms Ng, Mr Yaw was said to have been engaged to a woman taking a master’s degree in linguistics when he was a student in NUS, but that relationship did not work out.
An alleged history of getting hitched with subordinates
Mr Yaw has allegedly been having affairs with women with whom there may be a conflict of interest as far as professional duties are concerned.
The PRC lady, for example, was working for Mr Yaw as a translator. This means she has to be constantly proving her ability to Mr Yaw, and as far as professional duties is concerned, Mr Yaw can be said to be in a position of authority, even if there is no formal employment contract. Remember, authority can be explicit and tangible, as well as subtle and intangible. It can often be a very fine line — and it takes a mature man not to cross that line. Mr Yaw crossed that line.
The alleged party member named “Angela” must also be in a subordinate position compared to Mr Yaw in WP, because the last time I checked, there was no one in WP’s CEC named “Angela”, and Mr Yaw had resigned from his CEC post only a few days ago.
In fact, Mr Yaw’s current wife was also in a subordinate position relative to Mr Yaw because she was an election helper in Mr Yaw’s Ang Mo Kio GRC team.
Mr Yaw: Either come clean, or resign
The act of remaining silent on the matter and subjecting the families of the women to further doubt and emotional agony is very ungentlemanly of Mr Yaw, and reflects badly on his upbringing and on his character.
Although this act of silence is in fact enforced at the party level, it should apply to other WP members and supporters, but not to Mr Yaw himself. This is because the whole issue revolves around Mr Yaw’s personal conduct, and WP has no right to dictate to Mr Yaw that he shield his personal conduct from public scrutiny. WP also has no right to subject the families of the women involved to further emotional trauma by unjustly enforcing an act of silence on Mr Yaw, and denying Mr Yaw the right as well as the obligation to absorb the full brunt of the media attack so that the families concerned can be spared.
In light of recent developments, I am forced to conclude that Mr Yaw’s alleged sexual behaviour has the potential to create conflicts of interests at both the party level as well as the constituency level.
As such, Mr Yaw should either come clean about the truth of his sexual indiscretions, whilst protecting the women involved from further embarrassment and harassment, or he should consider himself unfit for political office, and resign accordingly as MP of Hougang.
The people of Hougang deserve the right to make a choice as to whether they want another WP MP to serve their needs, or whether WP has failed as a party to be accountable and transparent, and as such should be given the boot.