Activist Kirsten Han has asked where the Workers’ Party and party chief Pritam Singh are complicit in what she calls the “attack” on historian Dr Thum Ping Tjin’s character by the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods.
In its executive summary report released yesterday, the Committee said that Dr Thum had “clearly lied” about his academic credentials in the evidence he gave to the Committee. The Committee asserted that it did not find Dr Thum to be a credible representor and revealed that it has given no weight to Dr Thum’s views.
On why Dr Thum was specifically mentioned, committee member and Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said: “Since his perspective was unique, we thought that we will set out what we thought of the representation because the committee concluded that he lied about his academic positions and that on the representations, he was not credible.”
He further said that it was “not appropriate” to comment on whether further action will be taken against Dr Thum for allegedly giving false information while giving evidence under oath.
Responding to Dr Thum being singled out in the Committee’s report, Han has asked whether Singh and his party shared Minister Shanmugam’s views since Singh is part of the 10-member Committee and since the Committee said that all decisions were unanimous.
Han, who runs socio-political publication The New Naratif with Dr Thum, called the Committee’s focus on Dr Thum “a smear campaign” and shared her concerns with the executive summary which she believes does not adequately cover what is considered a deliberate online falsehood is.
Read her post in full here:
In case you cannot read the above:
“What, then, is Pritam Singh’s—and more broadly the The Workers’ Party’s—position on the treatment of Pingtjin Thum during and since the Select Committee’s public hearings, and the claim that PJ had lied under oath about his academic credentials?
“The Select Committee’s report says that all decisions were unanimous; can we then take this to mean that the Workers’ Party agrees with and endorses this attack on PJ’s character, and the way he’s been treated? The idea of perhaps taking action against PJ for lying under oath has been floated, albeit still unconfirmed [see: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/…/thum-ping-tjin-lied-acade…]—if this happens, will the Workers’ Party be in support of this action?
“What, in the WP’s view, is the definition of “deliberate online falsehood”, and what is the process that we should follow to decide whether something is a “deliberate online falsehood” or not? I had expected such a basic point to be covered in the Select Committee’s report, but I can’t seem to find it. This is the closest I’ve found so far is this statement: “On concerns that falsehoods were difficult to define, the Committee observed that the law has historically defined falsehoods, and the Courts regularly do so.” Which isn’t that helpful, really, especially if we’re talking about giving the Government the power to take action to stop a post from spreading within *hours*, which suggests there won’t be time for a court to properly consider the matter and rule on it.
“What assurances are there that, when the Bill is presented, the definition of “deliberate online falsehood” can be meaningfully scrutinised or debated? If Singaporeans or the WP doesn’t agree with the definition in that Bill, what avenues do we have, given the PAP supermajority in Parliament, to get it amended? Having participated in this Select Committee process and agreed with all its decisions, is the WP still in a good position to slap the driver if/when it comes to that? How much confidence should I have in the WP, when I already see it complicit in a smear campaign?”