Some netizens have informed PAP MP Seah Kian Peng that a police report is being lodged against him after he “incited an online lynch mob” against the activists who met Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad last week.
Historian Dr Thum Ping Tjin, journalist Kirsten Han, social worker Jolovan Wham and comic artist Sonny Liew met the Malaysian leader at an event organised by Malaysian activist Hishammuddin Rais and exiled Singapore activist Tan Wah Piow, last Thursday.
The group clarified that they simply wanted to get to know the man up close and said that they were attending the meeting as a group of individuals and not a collective.
Despite this, ruling party politician Seah Kian Peng asserted on Facebook that the group met Mahathir to “invite Dr M to bring democracy to Singapore, and suggest that Singapore is part of Malaya.”
Seah, who also serves as chief executive of NTUC Fairprice, made several allegations against the group – particularly Dr Thum – and alleged that Dr Thum thought “it is permissible to ask its current prime minister to interfere in our affairs.”
He added: “It appears quite clear to me that PJ Thum does not wish Singapore well. It is interesting that Kirsten, Jolovan and Sonny should associate themselves with Thum.”
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam threw his weight behind Seah‘s post, which caused many Singaporeans to express concerns over local activists meeting with a foreign head of government. Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, Minister Shanmugam said:
“I think the whole conduct is a little bit sad, quite regretful. We can have political differences within Singapore. That is normal, it is people’s right. But we should never go out and invite someone foreign, foreign politician to intervene in our domestic politics. I think that is an absolute no-no.
“I mean Dr Thum puts up a photo holding his book on politics in Singapore shaking hands with a Malaysian Prime Minister. then puts up a foreign post saying that he invites Dr Mahathir to take a leading role in promoting democracy, human rights, freedom of speech in South East Asia. I think it is quite clear what that means.
“Kirsten Han then puts up a post saying that is for South East Asia, not Singapore. Where is Singapore if not in South East Asia. Do we need a geography lesson?”
Meanwhile, Seah’s post quickly went viral online, with many blasting the activists who met Dr Mahathir as “traitors” who “seek anarchy and chaos”:
The comments section of Seah’s original post grew so vile that the politician had to step in and call on netizens to comment with more civility and decorum. Seah urged in another Facebook post:
“My posting over the weekend has indeed generated a number of comments. I thank those who supports and agrees with my views. There were of course others who disagree with it which is to be expected. Whilst we have different points of views, I call on all to maintain a certain decorum in our comments and we should not get personal or abusive. We can all agree to disagree and be civil about it. It is regretful that I see all kinds of abusive remarks that are made by many different individuals (and trolls) against each other. I do not support such types of comments, regardless of what views or positions they take.”
Despite Seah’s clarification that he does not support abusive comments, regardless of what side they are from, some netizens have slammed him for whipping up hate for the activists with his “misleading statements”.
Jolovan Wham, one of the Singaporeans who attended the Mahathir meeting, wrote that he finds Seah’s latest post hypocritical since he “decided to character assassinate” the activists in the first place:
Filmmaker Lynn Lee pointed out that Seah “should have known better” before making “misleading” comments that “incited an online lynch mob which hasn’t stopped making threats and vile comments about the people you targetted in your post”:
Calling the response to Seah’s post “disgusting”, writer Lim Jialiang joined the voices of other netizens who felt Seah’s latest clarification that he does not support abusive comments “too little, too late”:
One netizen took his displeasure with Seah further and said that a police report has been made against Seah: