In a dramatic turn of events, the People's Action Party's candidate (PAP), Ivan Lim Shaw Chuan, has withdrawn his candidacy from the upcoming Singapore General Election slated for July 10. His decision came after facing online criticism for his alleged "elitist behavior" despite issuing a clarification on June 27 morning.
Lim, the General Manager of Keppel Offshore & Marine, was one of the 27 new faces, the ruling PAP introduced on June 24 for the GE2020. But soon after the announcement, many comments surfaced online criticizing his behavior in the past — during the National Service, during college, and at his workplace. People alleged that he wasn't fit to represent them.
Following the backlash, Lim issued a clarification saying he was "determined to stay on course" but less than 12 hours later, he changed his mind as more backlash poured in following his statement. The 42-year-old, who was expected to contest from Jurong GRC, decided to withdraw his candidacy and the PAP accepted his decision to pull out.
"Following my clarification this morning, further allegations have emerged against me. These new allegations are baseless," Lim said in his letter to PAP secretary-general Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
"The controversy has also caused intense pain and stress for my family. I cannot put my family through this," he added. "I thank the party for giving me this opportunity to serve."
What Is It Really All About?
Following the announcement of his candidature, a Facebook user, who claimed to be his subordinate during his time in National Service, wrote that Lim used "a condescending voice" and asked subordinates — members of his platoon — to not enter the air-conditioned tent he was using. "His action and speech were simply that of an elitist," the user said.
"So now he is going into politics to represent the ordinary folks in Parliament. With his character and personality — will he?" the user questioned.
There were also allegations that he was involved in Keppel Offshore's $50m bribery scandal. Keppel allegedly paid bribes to Brazilian officials over 13 years for favorable business deals. The company was fined $422m in 2017 for that. But Lim denied his involvement in his clarification statement.
"I set high standards for the unit as a CO. I believe in working together and I did not ask the men to do something I was not prepared to do myself," he said in the statement issued by the PAP. "I accept that I can always do better and I am willing to learn. I will take this experience to heart and do my best to prove myself to voters and all Singaporeans."
But in the evening, Lim made a U-turn and decided to put his political aspirations on hold, at least for the time being.
"I recognize that the controversy over my candidacy has eclipsed the core issues of what this election should be about — Singapore's future and the difficult steps we have to take to recover from Covid-19," he added.
It's Unfortunate, Says PM Lee
While accepting his decision to withdraw, Prime Minister Lee felt the controversy was unwarranted and unfortunate. He said that there should have been a "fair and deliberate consideration of the allegations" but considering June 30 is the day of submitting nominations, there would be no time for a "thorough investigation". "The allegations spread like wildfire online, eclipsing the serious life and death issues we must grapple with," Lee added.
"I respect your decision to withdraw as a candidate. I regret that you and your family have had to bear such stress during this period. I hope Singaporeans will give you and your family the peace and privacy to recover, and welcome your continued contribution to our society," he further said.