SOME PARTIES DO NOT HAVE WEB GUIDELINES
by Leong Wee Keat
SINGAPORE – In spite of the general belief among political parties that the Internet will play an active role in the coming General Election, a check with some revealed that several do not have specific guidelines on members’ Web etiquette.
The recent online fracas between a Young People’s Action Party (YP) branch chairman and a netizen has cast the spotlight on how members of political parties engage in social media.
Responding to MediaCorp’s queries on the incident involving YP Toa Payoh East Branch chairman Cheo Ming Shen, a YP spokesperson said it “doesn’t take an official position where its members or leaders make comments or personal opinions in private matters or issues”.
Adding that it has internal guidelines, the spokesperson said: “However, we do on a regular basis, advise and encourage our members as well as our leaders to be mindful of their comments, especially in the public domain such as websites.”
Workers’ Party (WP) webmaster Koh Choong Yong told MediaCorp that its social media policies have been in place “for one to two years”. WP’s guidelines include encouraging members to identify themselves so that they can take responsibility for their words, pause – and reflect for a moment – before replying, and refrain from name-calling or responding to aggravation.
Said Mr Koh, who also heads the WP youth wing: “While the party do not restrict any member from posting his/her personal views on social media platform, we always remind the members that whatever they post will be deemed to be associated with the views and perspective of the party.”
In contrast, the National Solidarity Party (NSP) and Reform Party do not have a set of guidelines for their members.
NSP secretary-general Goh Meng Seng said: “The majority of us are mature adults. Even if a member make a mistake, we should learn from it … in the end, it may be immaterial. What matters most (during hustings) are policy issues.”
RP chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam said his party expects members to adhere to its vision and beliefs as well as to show the party in a good light. Membership privileges do come with obligations, he reiterated.
Meanwhile, YP’s Mr Cheo has apologised for the online fracas, which began after the netizen confronted Mr Cheo about his comments in The Sunday Times that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew “is the equivalent of Nelson Mandela to Singaporeans”.
In response, Mr Cheo – a co-founder of Internet start-up Netccentric – fired off numerous tweets, some containing foul language.
Mr Cheo told MediaCorp: “In hindsight, I definitely regret and am sorry for my actions. All comments were made in my personal capacity. At no time did I make the comments donning my PAP hat.”
As Mr Cheo looks to put the incident behind him, the YP spokesperson said that it “would be highlighted as an example to members” on how to conduct themselves on the Internet.
Source : TODAYonline – MediaCorp Press Ltd’s copyright