SINGAPORE: Senior WP member quits over Net fracas

Senior Workers' Party member Goh Meng Seng takes responsibility for tarnishing the party's reputation by making critical remarks against online forum participant

Straits Times
Wednesday, November 8, 2006

By Peh Shing Huei & Ken Kwek

Senior Workers' Party member Goh Meng Seng has quit the party, taking responsibility for Internet postings he said had tarnished the WP's reputation.

"I need to be accountable for it," said the 36-year-old, who was part of the WP's Aljunied team in the last polls.

However, sources say he was also unhappy with impending party guidelines to curtail members' postings on the Internet, a claim he denied.

Mr Goh, an active netizen, had attracted brickbats recently on online forums for harsh language, calling a forum participant "scheming" and "lacking in integrity."

A netizen even fired a letter to party chairman Sylvia Lim, complaining about WP members' online behaviour.

Mr Goh told The Straits Times yesterday: "It has created a bad image for the party and the party must come first. Someone must be accountable."

He stressed that he was not pushed out of the party and that his comrades had asked him to stay.

His resignation two weeks ago came as a shock to party members. He was a central executive committee (CEC) member and part of the WP's "A team" led by Ms Lim, which claimed 43.9 per cent of the valid votes in Aljunied GRC during May's General Election.

Mr Goh, who joined the WP in 2001, said it was not an easy decision to quit. "I may not be a veteran who has been with the party for over 40 years. But there is still an emotional attachment," he said.

"I have no regrets," he said repeatedly, adding in Mandarin: "Tian xia mei you bu san zhi yan xi." The Chinese proverb he quoted states that there is no banquet in this world that lasts forever.

He said he has not thought of joining another opposition party and will still help out with WP activities.

Ms Lim told The Straits Times last night the party is "always sad to lose people."

Added WP secretary-general Low Thia Khiang: "I have to respect his choice. I respect the individual's choice, and he has made his contributions to the party in the past." He did not want to elaborate on the reasons behind Mr Goh's departure.

On the party's Internet guidelines, he said: 'There was some feedback from younger members of the party who are active on the Internet, that perhaps we should have certain "netiquette."

"Since it's something from the ground that younger members would like to see, the CEC will take it up and see what is the best we can come up with."