Most turn to crowdfunding platforms to raise money for social causes, innovative products and creations, or for medical bills to treat their critically ill loved ones. So, when SGInstaBabes launched a crowdfunding campaign for themselves last Thursday, it’s no surprise that they were met with heavy criticism.
If you haven’t caught up with the controversy, you can read about how the drama unfolded here.
SGInstaBabes launched a subscription campaign that grants subscribers with a range of ‘benefits’ depending on the tier of subscription one pays for.
For example, paying US$7.50 (approx. S$10) a month will grant one exclusive access to photo shoot albums, and the highest tier will grant one “Ultimate Sugar Daddy” the perk of a private yacht party with the girls at a price of S$5000.
The campaign came under fire for multiple reasons: it’s questionable purpose of crowdfunding, the dubious ‘perks’ that seem to be a hotbed for sexual predatory behaviours, and the impression that the campaign is further objectifying and ‘selling’ girls who look underaged.
As with all social media dramas, founder of SGInstaBabes, Wee Kiat’s not-so-decent history of controversies has also been unearthed following the uproar over the Patreon campaign. In 2011, nude photos of Wee Kiat and his ex were leaked. Then, just last year, Wee Kiat came under scrutiny again when he was accused of molesting an underaged girl at a music festival.
Although Wee Kiat claims that the Patreon page was started due to overwhelming feedback from their fans, his unfortunate history coupled with the ‘pay to get exclusive photos or time with our girls’ campaign messaging was undoubtedly a recipe for disaster.
In an attempt to address the negative allegations against him, one of Wee Kiat’s reply was:
“Funny thing is, those who are perverting my intentions aren’t the girls I work with and see me and know me. Heck, they aren’t even people who follow SgInstaBabes and have seen the stories and posts we made. They are people who are here because of drama and made assumptions based on shallow judgments. And they don’t care about the accuracy of what they say. They just wanna jump on the bandwagon. Hence, empty vessels make the most noise.”
So, I decided to reach out to several girls who have not only seen but worked with Wee Kiat personally to see just how ‘shallow’ the current public assumptions or judgments are. On promise of anonymity to protect their identities, here are their first-hand experiences
“He’s very good with words”
“I was part of SGInstaBabes for awhile but left because I heard a lot of shit about Wee Kiat. I personally don’t think he’s very trustworthy at all! From my few experiences with him, I would say he is very good at convincing people. There were a few events I didn’t want to participate in but he was so good with words that he was able to convince me to do it.
So if you’re talking about whether the girls in the group are really doing it willingly or ‘psychoed’ to do so, I think it’s very hard to tell. One thing for sure, he is super touchy. The few times I met him, he always tried to hug me and touch my waist. This contributes to the doubts we girls have in terms of sexual activity with him, especially when there are always parties and alcohol involved.
Personally, I think the Patreon campaign is totally redundant and stupid. They are just making use of the girls to ‘create content’. From what I know, a lot of girls (I know a friend who is still in SGInstaBabes) has been starting to back out because they don’t want to get involved in the campaign. It shows how the campaign is actually not approved by many of the girls themselves.”
– E, 19
“He’s a low-key manipulative person”
“In 2014 to 2015, Wee Kiat asked me to join his team multiple times but I always declined him. That didn’t stop him from pestering me with the same question. I was around 16 to 17 back then and even after more than three years, this cycle hasn’t stopped.
I’ve worked with him separately on a couple of events and I regret ever doing so because since then I’ve been constantly linked to the brand. Even after constant objections against such association, Wee Kiat still has no qualms continuing on. I even found my photos being circulated on their page without my permission. It’s degrading and if he cannot understand my ‘no’s, it really shows how the entire brand works.
Wee Kiat is generally a nice person but he just doesn’t take objections even after very clear explanations. He would try to convince me by boasting about his social media marketing experience and telling me that there’s only “so far you can achieve alone”. He just cannot understand that I have no goal to rush for success or fame on a social media platform.
I have never been too close with the team and never tried to associate myself with the girls too much. However, I have chatted with some of the ex-members who left with certain degrees of unhappiness from Wee Kiat’s attitude. To summarise, these girls who left just don’t want to be seen as a joke anymore.
To be fair, Wee Kiat is actually pretty kind as a friend. When my nudes got leaked he was one of the few people who checked in on me and asked me about my well-being. However, I can’t deny that he is a determined and low-key manipulative person.”
– L, 20
In Wee Kiat’s attempt to convince L into doing a nude photoshoot with SGInstaBabes (him), he had also sent the nudes of another girl he has shot to L. However, Wee Kiat has requested for L not to tag or credit him if she were to do the photoshoot and post the photos from the shoot online – for reasons we aren’t sure of.
Lastly, we spoke to A, who initially joined the group as she thought it was only a one-off thing for an event. Luckily for A, she hasn’t had any uncomfortable or undesirable occasions with Wee Kiat other than him complimenting her excessively.
“I’m someone who will stand up for myself. There were times where I called him out so maybe he doesn’t want to play with fire, or he just doesn’t have interest in me. I’ve heard stories about him, like what happened at the Eden Music Festival last year but there were at least three to four versions of it so I really don’t know what’s the truth.
However, I chose to leave after half a year because I just don’t have the same goal the group has. It was something I tried for fun but found that it’s just not what I wanted. I left the group with no bad blood and even made some close friends.
Wee Kiat would even ask me for my opinion sometimes because I dare to criticise. In fact, he asked me about my thoughts on the Patreon campaign. I wasn’t against it, but I told him that it wouldn’t work out and that he will definitely get into trouble for it. But apparently he went ahead with it.”
– A, 19
Where Should We Draw The Line?
Following netizen’s condemnation, SGInstaBabes has done some damage control. Both the official SGInstaBabes and Wee Kiat’s Instagram account have been taken down. The Patreon page is still up but besides the top banner, all other photos of the girls has been removed at time of writing.
Wee Kiat has also told Marketing Interactive that there will possibly be a revival and revamp of the collective and “If the account is to go live again, I personally will not be in charge or involved in any of SgInstaBabes’ activities anymore.”
For a leadership role where one is primarily in direct contact with young, impressionable girls, I am honestly surprised that Wee Kiat had even managed to continue in this role after the molest allegations.
As such, should SGInstaBabes continue on, one should consider if there should be more done to prevent these young girls from being taken advantage of for their naivety. After all, many of these girls are still at the age of discovery and yearn the attention that comes with social media fame.
Many blame the girls for their lack of awareness or their overzealous clout chasing. While there is truth to that, as a girl myself, I understand how gratifying it can feel for a supposed guiding figure to validate my potential and tell me how much I can achieve. The free access to events and the chances to shine are draw factors that make it even harder to resist such opportunities despite any undesirable treatment. Not forgetting how much guts it will take for someone to speak up about mistreatment from a person who have been in the industry for much longer than they are.
Of course, every one of these girls have their own right to decide and to go through the rite of passage themselves. However, just like how it takes fines to teach Singaporeans not to litter, maybe stricter laws are what we need to clamp down on such sexual predators. Furthermore for a platform that is marketed to empower girls and celebrate their beauty.
Or perhaps, we need something to prevent young girls from even signing up for anything that can possibly put them in these positions of ridicule.
Do you think leaders of such groups need to be imposed with stricter rules? Or girls should be barred from even joining such groups? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!
(Header Image taken from SGInstaBabes’ Patreon page)