WP candidate on how allegations came to be reported

WP candidate on how allegations came to be reported
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Workers' Party (WP) candidate Daniel Goh has explained why he made a public statement on Thursday night denying allegations of an extra-marital affair, as his party leaders and members vouched for his integrity and honesty.

The Workers' Party (WP) also said yesterday it welcomes scrutiny of its candidates, but there must be evidence of wrongdoings and the media must be responsible by giving them the right of reply.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Dr Goh said he issued a statement because Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao published an online report about the allegations made in an anonymous poison pen letter before he could provide his comments.

He also clarified that "it was Lianhe Zaobao that broke the news, and not The Straits Times".

Dr Goh said that in his communication with a Lianhe Zaobao journalist on Thursday night after the poison pen letter went out to several media outlets and his party leaders, he was given a deadline to refute the allegations or the story would go to print.

"The story went online some time before the time given to me. This forced my hand to respond to the baseless allegations and rumours," he wrote.

"Once I made the public statement to refute the allegations, the other media outlets reported the statement, and thus the rumours."

The associate professor of sociology at the National University of Singapore said The Straits Times journalist who had called him had told him that the paper "would not publish rumours unless I was making a public statement".

The Straits Times ran a report on Dr Goh's denial online and in print after his statement appeared on his Facebook page. The story was also reported by several online media.

Dr Goh noted yesterday that the mainstream media had come under attack - especially online - for reporting the contents of the poison pen letter, and he felt that "flaming the media and the journalists will not help".

In response to Dr Goh's version of events yesterday, Lianhe Zaobao editor Goh Sin Teck told The Straits Times that the paper had contacted the candidate more than once to get his response on the matter.

"We got his first response around 10pm on 27 August 2015. There were further exchanges between our reporter and him to verify some facts. Our reporter communicated to him that if he had any further comments, it would need to reach us by 11.20pm to meet the print deadline," said Mr Goh.

A lapse in communication resulted in Zaobao.com publishing the story online based on his first response before 11.20pm, he added.

"Recognising the lapse, we immediately published his refutation of the allegation when he provided his final response at 11.15pm. His response was also carried in full in the 28 August print edition."

"We thank Dr Goh for proceeding with the scheduled interview, and choosing to believe that there was no malice intended. The interview will be published in the 29 August issue of ZB."

The WP's Dr Goh lodged a police report yesterday morning over the poison pen letter. Sent by a "Max Chan", it alleged that he had an affair in 2008 with an NUS postgraduate student, and questioned his character and morals. It was also sent to WP leaders Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim.

The student named in the letter told The Straits Times yesterday her relationship with Dr Goh was professional. "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.

Dr Goh, 42, is married to a 39-year-old housewife and they have a three-year-old son. He was introduced on Wednesday as a WP candidate for the Sept 11 polls and may be fielded in East Coast GRC.

Speaking at the party's headquarters in Syed Alwi Road, where a third round of candidates was introduced, Hougang MP Png Eng Huat said: "The Internet and e-mails are quite anonymous so if you have evidence, please tell us."

He also urged the media to be responsible by providing the right of reply and said a newspaper had put up a report online without giving Dr Goh time to respond.

Asked what action the WP would take, Mr Png, a Central Executive Council member, said it would "leave it as it is" for now as Dr Goh had made a police report.

Ms Lim, the WP chairman, told The Straits Times yesterday that the party intended to field Dr Goh. As for the contents of the poison pen letter, she said "these are just one of those allegations".

One of four WP candidates introduced yesterday was real estate agent Ron Tan, 30, who called for media reports to be based on facts.

"You have to take into consideration that news does spread very fast and it's important that news has to be based on facts," he said.

The first-time candidate said that having worked with Dr Goh over the past year, he found the allegations against him unfair.

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

This article was first published on Aug 29, 2015.
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