Netizen ask Hougang MP: Did you have affair with married woman?

SINGAPORE - It has not been a happy new year so far for the Workers' Party MP for Hougang, Mr Yaw Shin Leong, who has become the subject of a raging online firestorm.

Allegations about his personal life were posted online last Friday and have gone viral on several forums.

His Facebook page was also peppered with postings.  While a few suggest that the allegations are a smear campaign, others want him to respond to the allegations or apologise if they are true and move on.

Mr Yaw, who is married, is alleged to have had an affair with a married woman who is a member of an opposition party.

The WP leadership is aware of the allegations, but so far everyone connected to the case is keeping mum.

The allegations come in a week when another scandal has fuelled chatter both online and off.  Two top Home Team officers are being investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Mr Ng Boon Gay, former director of the Central Narcotics Bureau, and Mr Peter Lim, former commissioner of the Singapore Civil Defence Force, have been suspended from duty and are out on bail.

News of Mr Yaw's alleged affair emerged after someone, who claims to attend the same church as Mr Yaw and his wife, wrote an e-mail in Chinese to the media.

When contacted by TNP, the spokesman for the Covenant Evangelical Free Church said it is a private matter and declined to comment further.

TNP understands the MP and his wife are members of the church and had received counselling at the pastor's home.

The woman Mr Yaw is alleged to have had an affair with is said to be a female opposition party member.

She spoke to TNP on Jan 18 on condition of anonymity.  One of the things she said was: "I hope you will not identify me or the other woman involved."

She did not elaborate and said she would leave it to her party to comment.

She added: "I will neither confirm nor deny the allegations."

The woman is married with no children.  TNP also spoke to her husband, but he also declined to comment.

On Jan 19, TNP visited Mr Yaw during his Meet-the-People Session (MPS). During a break, TNP asked him about the allegations of the affair.

He listened intently but would only say: "I do not wish to comment on rumours."

When asked why he did not deny the rumours outright if they were untrue, he did not answer. His wife, who was also there, declined comment.

Then the MP offered: "My wife has been through a lot with me over the last few years. She's very understanding and has been a pillar of support to me."

That same night, TNP visited WP party chief Low Thia Kiang during his MPS. Mr Low, too, said: "I do not wish to comment on rumours."

Calls to others in the party's executive council have gone unanswered.

However, the party's deputy webmaster, Mr Png Eng Huat, was quoted in an online site as saying: "We have to think carefully about our response."

TNP contacted Mr Png but he declined to elaborate on his response to the news site.

Meanwhile, netizens continue to post comments on Mr Yaw's Facebook page calling on him to tackle the allegations head-on.

Last year, there was another case involving allegations of impropriety.

They were levelled against a potential People's Action Party candidate, Mr Steve Tan, who pulled out of the General Election (GE) at the 11th hour citing personal reasons.

In an interview with The Straits Times last year, the unionist was asked about rumours about his conduct that had surfaced and spread online.

They referred to allegations made against him by female former colleagues who used to work at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

Mr Tan refuted the allegations and said his conscience was clear. But he offered to step down as the "GE is not about me, it's about Singapore's future".

This article was first published in The New Paper.