January 2004

The Steve Chia case: an ordinary bloke




And what do I have to say about the Steve Chia issue? 

Thank heavens we have an ordinary bloke in Parliament! 

The attached article from the Straits Times is probably the last word on this issue. If you are the kind who believe in conspiracy theories, you ‘d say this very article is another ham-fisted attempt at character assassination. 

The government and its police are being made by their most loyal newspaper to appear magnaminous, and Steve Chia contrite and grateful for small favours. But guilty nonetheless. 

But hey, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans whose computers must surely have porn downloaded advertently or inadvertently onto our hard drives, I’d say we’re glad to count Steve Chia as one of our own. 

Just another ordinary bloke. 

It’s pretty difficult for us to identify with the white-than-white, holier-than-holy, but remarkably faceless PAP members of Parliament. Steve Chia’s our man! Every square inch of his exposed skin! 

OK, that was a cheap shot, but honestly that’s how it should be. Just light teasing with no great significance. 

So what if it is revealed that he liked having nude pictures taken of himself? So what if he likes to walk around nude in his home? As if thousands of us don’t do that, or haven’t entertained the thought of doing that? 

As a commentary piece – I think it was Tommy Wee’s ‘Straight Talk’ – argued in a recent edition of the Straits Times, the whole episode reflected less on Steve Chia than on the sorry small-mindedness of Singapore society. 

A clear majority of the people polled by the media during this episode felt Steve Chia should resign from all his political positions and cannot anymore be a credible politician. 

I disagree! 

So what if the man has an unusual hobby? So what if it borders on the erotic? If this is how we judge competence or leadership, we’re doomed. We’re just asking to be governed by sexually-repressed out-of-touch moralizers. 

(Yes, I hear the chorus, “We are already!”) 

We should simply judge politicians by their effectiveness in politics – their ideas, their ability to communicate, and to implement if they have the chance to do so. 

* * * * *

As almost all Singaporeans will know by now, and even non-Singaporeans can glean from the box article, the story went like this: 

Steve Chia, a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, was having marital difficulties with his wife, who was also pregnant with her first child. Apparently these marital difficulties had been developing for quite a while. 

In December, she suddenly made a police report alleging that he had nude pictures on his computer of himself and their maid. At first, it sounded as if the wife had stumbled upon an affair. And it did seem as if the wife wanted to establish just cause for a divorce. 

Steve Chia was quick to be open about the facts. 

He clarified that contrary to first impressions, there wasn’t any picture of him and his maid together in the nude. In fact, while some pictures of the maid were topless (but coyly posed), she was never in the nude. 

The nude pictures were of himself taken on quite separate occasions for his own personal collection. He even showed the media some of these pictures. (From what I can see, I should invite Steve to pose for me. I am sure I can take much better nude pictures than those. And I have.)

Anyway, with that, the whole thing boiled over and there was a general outcry about his being unfit for a political calling. 


Soon it was clarified that the maid had agreed to have her pictures taken. Somewhere, I think, it was said that she had even initiated it by wanting nice photographs taken of herself. It’s difficult to establish how true that is because she was let go almost immediately – one can’t imagine Mrs Chia wanting the maid to continue working for them – and she had since gone back to Indonesia. 

This was the only point where I had some niggling doubts. It’s difficult in a relationship between employer and employee, sometimes, to establish how free the employee might be to agree or not agree to an unusual request by her employer. To the extent that he applied any pressure at all on her, it would have a bearing on his political ambitions because the abuse of priviledge is something that is relevant to a political career. 

On the other hand, we have to bear in mind that it is possible for a young woman, even one working as a domestic maid, to be frisky or vain. We must not always fall into the patriarchal idea that a woman has no autonomy, and that if anything happens, it must perforce be initiated by the man; she could only have mindlessly followed. Humbug again! 

In any case, one is innocent until proven guilty. And the police have stated that “no offence of outraging modesty [was] disclosed.” To be fair to Steve Chia, we must accept that closure. 

What is left to morally indict Steve Chia with? Nothing. 

So get back into politics, Steve, and represent all of us ordinary blokes with porn on our computers.

© Yawning Bread 


Straits Times
7 January 2004

A warning but Steve Chia faces no action

By Ben Nadarajan

Police have cleared Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Steve Chia of reports lodged by his wife that he had outraged the modesty of their Indonesian maid.

However, they have given him a slap on the wrist for possessing pornographic materials on his home computer.

The Straits Times broke the news more than two weeks ago that he had been reported to the police by his wife, Doreen, after she found sexy photos of their maid on the home computer.

In a statement yesterday, police spokesman Chua Chee Wai said the police had completed their investigations.

'After careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case and in consultation with the Attorney-General's Chambers, the police have decided to take no further action on the grounds that no offence of outraging modesty is disclosed,' he said.

Mr Chia, 34, has maintained that the maid, who is in her early 20s, had been a willing party in posing for the photos, which he said had her in her bra and jeans or topless with the vital parts covered.

During investigations, the police seized his computer.  

The pictures of the maid were in its trash bin. But the police also found a folder with a pornographic movie which he had apparently downloaded from the Internet.

He had admitted this to reporters a few days after the news broke.

The police spokesman said Mr Chia was called to the Ang Mo Kio Police Division headquarters yesterday and given a warning, which he accepted.

He could have been fined up to $100 for illegally possessing an obscene film without valid certification.

He said yesterday: 'All along, I know that I am not guilty of wrongdoings... I feel relieved and vindicated by the outcome of the police investigations.'

The police statement also settles the question of whether he can keep his NCMP seat.

He had resigned as secretary-general of the National Solidarity Party (NSP) and as vice-chairman of its umbrella group, the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA).

An MP automatically loses his seat in Parliament if he is jailed for more than a year or fined more than $2,000.

In the party's first official statement on the incident, NSP president Yip Yew Weng yesterday apologised for any 'unhappiness' the incident might have caused.  

He commended Mr Chia's 'open and frank attitude' in facing up to his problems and public criticisms.

SDA president Chiam See Tong said: 'Steve has performed well in Parliament and has sacrificed a lot for Singapore and opposition politics. He should be given a second chance.