ASIA NEWS NETWORK
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Publication Date : 25-05-2012
Men who this week called popular blogger Xiaxue a "stupid bimbo" and a "whore" online are getting a taste of their own medicine.
She is fighting back by posting their photos and information on her blog, in an attempt to show that they do not have much of a leg to stand on in the looks and intelligence department themselves.
The furore started when photos of her with two friends, taken without permission from their blogs, surfaced on the Facebook page of political website Temasek Review on Monday, Tuesday and on Thursday, with an invitation to caption them.
The photos of the three - Xiaxue and her friends Qiu Qiu and Sophie - were taken at a People's Action Party (PAP) rally in Aljunied GRC during last May's general election. In the photo, Xiaxue, 28, and Qiu Qiu, 24, have PAP logos on their faces.
In her blog, Xiaxue has never made her support for Singapore's ruling party a secret.
Commenters responded to the Temasek Review's invitation readily: "Cheap b****," said one.
"Pretty and sexy girls, which part of Geylang they work?", said another.
Xiaxue, whose real name is Wendy Cheng, posted on her blog on Thursday: "I don't know what is their problem (sic) because as I said, I have not uttered a word about this election and the photos are one year old."
To get back at them, she trawled Facebook for their photos and information - and Facebook was obliging, because many of their profiles were public.
"I did not hack their accounts or even snoop very hard," she said. "Their details and pictures can be found by anyone who clicks on their Facebook profile upon seeing their comments on Temasek Review's Facebook page, which has over 10,000 likes."
She added: "What kind of men would say this kind of thing? Singaporean men are such bullies. They think I'm a nobody - just a random girl they can bully."
Among the men who featured in her gallery of 'bullies' were several who are married with children.
When asked by The Straits Times on Thursday whether putting up their pictures meant she was stooping to their level, Xiaxue was unapologetic.
She said: "No, I would never ever talk about somebody like that unless they personally attacked me. How can I sink to their level, to call them a sex worker in such a derogatory manner?"
She is no stranger to hostile online feuds, or 'flaming', herself, having written profanity-strewn posts about those who have got her goat in the past.
Asked why online commenters are hostile, sociopolitical blogger Siew Kum Hong said there is a 'herd instinct' at work, exacerbated by the anonymous nature of online interaction.
He said: "You don't see the other people in front of you. You don't have to deal with the discomfort that it can cause."
He noted, however, that in the past, such 'flame wars' took place on more niche forums such as Sammyboy, rather than on Facebook, "which is very much in your face".
He does not think Singapore needs a law or official code for online conduct, but said it will be difficult to change online interaction, because people must want to do the right thing themselves.
"There is no silver bullet, no easy answer. You are free to do it, because there are few repercussions... It has to be intrinsic: You realise that you will hurt someone, and there is a human being at the receiving end."
One of the victims of Xiaxue's revenge, swim coach Lim Soon Chwee, 34, told The Straits Times last night that his comment, "Pretty and sexy girls, which part of Geylang they work?" was incomplete.
"I didn't mean that at all," he said, adding that he was actually trying to defend her.
"She's a public figure and she's probably just trying to increase the number of eyeballs on her blog."
When he told his wife about Xiaxue's post, she just laughed, he said.
Another man who got one back from Xiaxue, Hong Xing, a 35-year-old father of one, was less forgiving, because the photo Xiaxue held up for ridicule also featured his wife and child.
The engineer admitted that he had insinuated that Xiaxue was an underage prostitute, but said he preferred women in more conservative clothes.
"Look at what she is wearing. When she bends down, you can see her breasts," he said, adding that he has seen prostitutes in Geylang who dress this way.
He added that he might not have posted the comment if he had known she would see it, but that she should not have posted photographs of his family online.
He said: "My wife feels really bad. This is between Xiaxue and me. She shouldn't have attacked my family."