Speaking to reporters today at a walkabout in Tampines, National Solidarity Party (NSP) secretary-general Lim Tean defended his team mate and candidate for MacPherson Cheo Chai Chen, saying that Cheo’s joke about mothers was “taken out of context”.
Mr Cheo is involved in a 3 cornered fight in MacPherson against the People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate Tin Pei Ling – a new mother – and Workers’ Party candidate Bernard Chen. On Thursday last week, Cheo said that if Ms Tin Pei Ling was elected, she might “focus more on her child than on her voters”, adding that “This is her weakness”.
“Let’s put it this way, I’m sure Mr Cheo did not mean anything derogatory about mothers. I think people know NSP’s position on mothers and motherhood. I would like all of Singapore to know that we are a party that is very supportive of mothers. I would like to quote what Chairman Mao once said: ‘Women hold up half the heavens’.” Mr Lim Tean, who is contesting in Tampines GRC, said. The day before on Friday, Mr Cheo told reporters that he had meant for his comments on mothers to be a joke.
“We have absolutely every respect for every mother. We know in modern-day Singapore how difficult it is for mothers to combine their role at home and still have a career and we salute them.” Lim continued.
Lim explained that NSP candidates are “average Singaporeans” whose jokes can be taken out of context, and compared the PAP to opposition candidates.
“I think one thing that differentiates the NSP from the PAP, for example, is that we are the average Singaporean. We come from all sectors of life. We don’t come from the Army, Navy, Police or the Civil Service. And when you talk to average Singaporeans, sometimes they quip, they joke, sometimes things can be taken out of context,” he said.
“I am very sure if you ask Mr Cheo today what he thinks of mothers, he would be giving you the same answer as I’m giving you now. I’m sure he appreciates what his wife, who is a mother, is doing now.”
NSP president Sebastian Teo later clarified when asked that Mr Cheo is not married. His campaign flyer too states that he is single.