If Yaw Shin Leong or Michael Palmer or David Ong surfaced again among the ranks of their respective parties doing grassroots or party works, it may be newsworthy. The three gentlemen, after all, were all former elected Members of Parliament (MP) who had left their positions because of “personal indiscretions.”
But what about a “former potential… candidate” resurfacing in another constituency? Would such a thing be newsworthy?
Take the case of Mr Kahar Hassan.
Most Singaporeans would, undoubtedly, have no idea who Mr Kahar is, and we don’t blame them. Mr Kahar, after all, came and vanished from the radar like a flash in the pan just before the last elections in 2015.
To jolt your memory, because that is required in order for you to access the deepest recesses of your memory to recall who he is, Mr Kahar was the “former potential” PAP candidate in Aljunied GRC.
He was never named as an actual candidate.
He was only a speculative one.
He was yanked, not from the list of potentials for the Aljunied contest, but as branch chairman of the PAP in Aljunied. And for some reason, that too was newsworthy at the time.
That is all there is to Mr Kahar, as far as his (short) political “career” is concerned or is publicly known.
Yet, the TODAY newspaper has found it worth their while to accord him an entire report on 8 April.
Well, because Mr Kahar “has resurfaced in another constituency, doing grassroots work”, TODAY helpfully informs us.
And this is news because… ?
TODAY describes him as a “former potential.. GRC candidate”.
How far removed is that??
We have to ask again: Mr Kahar moving from one place to another is newsworthy because…?
This is why sometimes, people feel the mainstream media is nothing more than just a propaganda tool for the ruling party. In any other country, such a volunteer moving to another constituency would not even be given a second look, especially one who was not at all involved in the last election (or any election, for that matter).
Now, the speculation is that TODAY has been asked by the PAP/Government to plant this story in the papers to prepare the ground for Halimah Yacob’s widely-expected move to stand for the presidential election in September, and hence the need to assure the (Malay) residents in Marsiling-Yew Tee that there will be a Malay replacement for her.
But really, even if this was true, is that newsworthy, especially given that the PAP has always maintained that even if an MP leaves a GRC (for whatever reasons) the other MPs are able to step in and take up the responsibility of running the town?
This is the very reason why the PAP has always said there is no need to hold a by-election in a GRC. In fact, they are so sure that they have legislated it into law.
Mr Kahar would thus be just another volunteer in the grassroots, since there will be no by-election to make him MP. The next general elections, where Mr Kahar may be fielded as a candidate, is due only in 2020/2021.
So please, mainstream media, know what is news and what is not.
A grassroots volunteer who “turns up” in another constituency is not news, even if he is a “former potential… GRC candidate.”
His party wasn’t even interested in fielding him, in case you didn’t notice.
But now that this has been made “news”, some interesting questions do arise, such as: who informed the reporter, Kelly Ng, that Mr Kahar had “surfaced” again?
Mr Kahar told the newspaper that he has been helping Mdm Halimah at her meet-the-people sessions “for more than a year” already.
So, why is the news only picking this up – if it is newsworthy at all – at this rather opportune time, a mere 5 months away from the next presidential elections?