Poll Dancer by Keith Ng


If the DBP affair is about questioning the character of our politicians, it's done its job. The voraciousness, the ruthlessness, the utter indecency with which the character assassination - nay, character lynch-mobbing - campaign has been carried out is simply disgusting.

It makes juicy soundbites ("schoolgirls!" "nighties!" "changing room!" - three down from "Petticoat Discipline Quarterly" on Google), it stops the Government from getting any real work done, but what is the purpose of all of this? What end, democratic or otherwise, does it actually serve for politicians to stamp on one another like this?

Let's put the allegations against him in context here.

How reliable are the recollections? The latest one is 9 years ago, the oldest one around 20. The events that allegedly happened are not life-shattering traumas that were etched onto the victims' minds.

Is it possible for the recollections to be biased? Come on - we've all had teachers we hated. And given last year's coverage, is it not possible for the decade(s) old memories to be warped, just a little?

Enough evidence suggests that something happened, but that doesn't address the substance of the issue: was DBP doing something other than his job as a teacher?

The devil is in the details. Where was he? Did he enter straight into the changing room? Was he by the door? Was there a barrier by the door that stops people from looking in? In short, was he in a position where he could expect to see naked girls, or was he just in the same building? Did he announce his entry? Did any of the other girls hear him?

I'm not trying to be unnecessarily pedantic here, but the details do matter. It's the difference between a teacher who broke protocols and the "dirty old man" that the Opposition are trying to paint him as. It makes a hell of a lot of difference.

There's been an opinion formed of the man based on scenarios that have been constructed out of a few unverifiable claims. A police investigation would have been nearly impossible - hence the lack of one. But this doesn't mean that he's "gotten away with it", it just means that we really don't know and can't know.

I don't care about whether DBP lied. I don't really care about DBP at all. I just care about the state of our democracy when it occupies itself with such despicable lynch-mobbing.

DBP's entitled to more than just the benefit of the doubt. He's entitled, like every other human being, to justice: The presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

The flip side to that entitlement is that it is the responsibility of every self-respecting citizen of a just society to uphold that right, to refrain from passing judgement in lieu of sufficient evidence.

It's not a lot to ask, people.

Let's judge our politicians by their characters. Let's see how many of them will use unsubstantiated accusations to destroy a man because they want his job. Let's see if any of them will show a bit of decency, a bit of humanity, a bit of *leadership*.

My jaded eyes will be on Labour now, with their threats to blow Gerry out of the water. Gerry's name has been in Labour's dirt-file for a while now. I wrote (semi-cryptically: "tennis-ball-grade dirt") about it last year, and got a call the next day from Mike Munro, the PM's then-Press Secretary, insisting that the Labour Party doesn't have a dirt-file. Ahem.

To their credit, Labour refrained from opening the non-existent dirt-file at all throughout the campaign, and throughout DBP's first grilling. According to one of my sources, it was because Labour "doesn't do that sort of politics". Ahem.

I can appreciate how tempting it must be right now.

We're watching you, buddy.