S M Ong
Mon, Dec 08, 2008
The New Paper
Flame war at Hwei Yen's memorial

IMAGINE you're dead.

And you died in some sensational way that makes front-page news. It also helps if you're a cute 20-something female lawyer.

So you become an overnight media celebrity, albeit posthumously.

People you have never met before when you were alive attend your wake, moved by your story in the papers. Gawkers. Maybe they'll get 4D numbers too. Would you feel exploited?

Consider this:

Three Facebook groups have been created in the memory of Singapore's first terrorist victim, Ms Lo Hwei Yen, the biggest of which has more than 10,000 members.

She might have been a very popular woman, but who has 10,000 friends? Even on Facebook, she has only 313.

One of the other Facebook groups has more than 1,000 members and is called 'Memorial for Lo Hwei Yen, the Singaporean killed in Mumbai terrorist attack'.

Talk about attacks, there is a ferocious flame war going on in this group.

On the discussion board are the topics 'Micah Lim and Aaron Yeo have no shame' and 'Michelle Quah is slandering people here'.

Who are these people? Micah Lim is the group's creator. He and Aaron Yeo are listed as the group administrators. Both of them seem to know Ms Lo only through press reports.

Ms Michelle Quah claims to be a former colleague of Ms Lo.

The dispute began when Ms Quah called out MrLim and Mr Yeo for putting links to their online businesses on the 'memorial' page.

'How touching that your 'memorial' to Ms Lo Hwei Yen must include a sick attempt to publicise a business,' she writes in a post. She wants the links removed.

Mr Lim's defence is that Facebook also places advertising on the page and he is upset that Ms Quah did not message him privately to ask him to remove the links. He called her a 'pathetic lonely attention seeker'.

Ms Lo's tragic death may have reminded us of the preciousness and frailty of human life - but apparently not of civil discourse.

Other posters agree with Ms Quah that the links are inappropriate. However, one of the links remains up as of yesterday.

Is this exploitation?

At least, unlike the Mas Selamat case, no one is selling Lo Hwei Yen T-shirts at cafepress.com. Yet.

This article was first published in The New Paper on Dec 6, 2008.

"This is great to keep overseas Singaporeans connected to home news and affairs"

"My favourite was "The Aftermath for Malaysia Election" - (in my opinion), this was a very well crafted world standard image, it is even suitable for a Time magazine cover!"
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