Saturday 19 May 2012

Yaw Shin Leong sends letter of apology

By Andrea Ong, Robin Chan, The Straits Times, 19 May 2012

FORMER Member of Parliament for Hougang Yaw Shin Leong broke his silence yesterday after more than three months of keeping mum.

In a letter addressed to his former Hougang constituents, he apologised for putting them through the inconvenience of going through the polls again, and urged them to support the WP's 'candidate in blue'.

This is the 35-year-old's first public statement since his sacking from the Workers' Party in February for failing to come clean on his alleged extramarital affairs.

His expulsion triggered the upcoming Hougang by-election.

In the letter, which was e-mailed to the press yesterday, Mr Yaw also spoke of his pride in the 'Hougang Spirit'.

He said: 'I hope that Hougang residents will continue to keep our Hougang Spirit strong and keep the flame of parliamentary democracy alive by supporting the candidate in blue.'

He confirmed earlier media reports that he and his wife, Madam Lau Wang Lin, had left town, and explained that they had travelled out of Singapore in the hope of rebuilding their lives 'as private individuals away from the glare of the media'.

But even as they start a fresh chapter in their lives, 'we always regard Singapore as our home and will be back regularly'.

He thanked Hougang voters for electing him last year, and for their patience and support during his nine-month term as MP. 'I take pride in being able to serve you, though for a short period of time,' he said.

The WP responded swiftly yesterday to Mr Yaw's letter. In a Facebook post, it said: 'We have noted the media release by Yaw Shin Leong. Yaw is no longer a member of the Workers' Party. We remain focused on supporting our candidate, Png Eng Huat, for the Hougang by-election.'

The party later confirmed that Mr Yaw had not informed them about his letter.

WP chief Low Thia Khiang told The Straits Times that he was surprised by Mr Yaw's move, and that they had not been in touch since the latter's expulsion.

Hougang voters interviewed yesterday said Mr Yaw's letter would not sway how they planned to vote. Some also questioned the timing of the letter, which arrived eight days before they cast their ballots on May 26.

Manager Frankie Sim, 48, said that by bringing the matter up, Mr Yaw 'is reminding everyone again that something went wrong'.

Administrative executive Amanda Tan, 25, said if Mr Yaw had spoken up earlier, 'it would have put the WP in a good light'.

The People's Action Party candidate, Mr Desmond Choo, believes voters will focus on who has been serving them in Hougang and who will continue to do so.

'A lot of residents told me this is very important to them, someone who does not give up halfway - an MP who will be always here for them,' he said in Mandarin.

This does not help the Workers' Party at all.

He should have just kept quiet. This is utter rubbish and totally unnecessary at this time. It seems like he is trying to curry favour for the party.
- Mr Francis Yeo, 59, retiree

He is apologising but there is no point, we have already moved forward from the issue. We want to see what the new candidates can do for Hougang.
- Mrs P.H. Kok, 47, administrative officer

I don't think this will swing people's votes. Despite the Yaw Shin Leong episode, I believe the WP remains true to its spirit and what it represents. The People's Action Party still needs to do some soul-searching.
- Mr Loo Chin Boon, 40, sales director

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