Decembe 22, 2003
THE political career of one of Singapore's few opposition members of parliament was in jeopardy Monday. Dec 22, after he admitted to taking digital photographs of his Indonesian maid as she posed topless.
Steve Chia, 34, secretary-general of the National Solidarity Party, also confessed to a fetish for posing nude in photos himself in comments to the media over the weekend after news about the shots of his maid broke.
The scandal hit the headlines on Saturday when local media published details of a police investigation instigated by Chia's pregnant wife, who lodged a report after finding the photos of his maid on their home computer.
Chia told reporters on Sunday he took photos of his maid posing topless in his house, but only after she consented and with "clothes covering the vital parts".
"After some persuasion, she decided to give it a go, to take some sexy photos, just to take a look, and with a promise that they would be deleted," Chia was quoted as saying in the Today newspaper on Monday.
"I guess she felt comfortable with me, with the assurance that they would be deleted."
Chia said he downloaded the files onto his computer and then deleted them but forgot to also erase them from the trash file, where his wife found them.
Chia's wife alleged he had molested the maid in her complaint to the police, although the media quoted her on Monday as saying she now believed that was not correct.
In his statements to the media on Sunday, Chia admitted he developed a hobby of taking nude pictures of himself after getting a digital camera two years ago.
"I am proud of my body," he said as he displayed nude photos of himself taken during his travels with his back to the camera.
Chia is one of just three opposition politicians in Singapore's parliament, which is otherwise completely dominated by the People's Action Party that has governed the island-state since its independence in 1965.
He is a non-constituency member of parliament, a position given to candidates in Singapore's complex election system who lose in the polls but gain the next highest number of votes.
Chia, who described himself as a "maverick", said he was prepared to step down from his position as secretary-general of the National Solidarity Party if its members want him to resign over the scandal.
The Straits Times newspaper said the maid's contract has been cancelled and she is believed to be staying at a refuge for domestic workers in Singapore who have trouble with their employers.