In a Facebook post yesterday, Associate Professor Daniel Goh has called on netizens to stop slamming and threatening mainstream media reporters for publishing the poison pen letter which accused Assoc Prof Goh of having an extramarital affair in yet another demonstration of the Workers’ Party’s commitment to gentlemanly politics.

The political controversy over Dr Goh’s alleged affair broke out on Thursday night after several press in Singapore published a letter from a “Max Chan” who alleged that Dr Daniel Goh had an affair in 2008 with a post-graduate student from NUS.

Shortly after the publishing of the letter, netizens banded together and flamed major mainstream media outlets such as Zaobao, the Straits Times and Channel News Asia for their reckless reporting. Some netizens were spotted issuing threats against reporters, although these comments were swiftly removed.

Dr Goh has asked that such behavior cease and hoped that all parties would move on from the issue. Dr Goh has already lodged a police report against the poison pen letter.

“Hello everyone, again and I hope this will be the last on this matter. I understand there is a lot of attack on our mainstream media for reporting on the poison pen letter.

First, I should clarify that It was Lianhe Zaobao that broke the news, and not the Straits Times or others. In my communication with the Zaobao journalist last night, I was given till a certain time to refute the poison pen letter or the story will have to go to print. The story went online some time before the time given to me. This forced my hand to respond to the baseless allegations and rumours. Once I made the public statement to refute the allegations, the other media outlets reported the statement, and thus the rumours. The ST journalist did tell me that ST would not publish rumours unless I was making a public statement.

I met the Zaobao journalists today for a scheduled interview, which was a wonderful conversation actually. The interview will be published tomorrow. The journalists were personally apologetic about last night and I give them the benefit of the doubt that there was no malice involved. I do not intend to cancel my subscription to both papers. I hope that our underdeveloped media institutions will grow in professionalism and ethical standards, and I engage them with this expectation and hope. They are part of the equation to empower your future.

But our media institutions will not develop if we keep slamming them over this. A colleague notified me that a reporter called him up to ask about the rumours. Apparently the public flaming for reporting rumours is causing some to desperately try to verify the rumours. This crosses another professional and ethical line. Our media system is broken, but I trust we have good journalists in it from my interactions so far. We should debate and discuss how to fix it. Flaming the media and the journalists will not help. Let’s move on to rationally debate the issues, including our media system, let’s keep calm and hammer on.”

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