A Singaporean has made a police report against Former Ambassador-at-Large Bilahari Kausikan for making a Facebook post about Lee Hsien Yang on Cooling Off Day. The concerned Singaporean who reported the matter to the police claimed that the retired diplomat’s post sought to “influence the public on election partisan politics.”
In 2010, the Government turned the eve of polling day of every subsequent election into a “Cooling Off Day” on which no campaigning is permitted. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong justified the changes as enabling voters to think dispassionately about the candidates’ stands on issues raised, and reducing the chance of public disorder.
Election advertising, holding election meetings and canvassing are some of the activities that are prohibited on Cooling Off Day and polling day itself. It is unlawful to try to persuade a person to vote or not to vote in a particular way or exercise undue influence on any voter on both Cooling Off Day and polling day.
Cooling Off Day fell on 9 July this year. That day, at 4.25pm, Mr Bilahari – a prominent member of the establishment – made a public Facebook post excoriating Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Lee Hsien Yang.
Mr Lee, the youngest son of Singapore’s founding PM Lee Kuan Yew and younger brother of current PM Lee Hsien Loong, had joined the opposition party ahead of the latest general election. Although he has been supporting the PSP by making public appearances, Mr Lee decided against contesting the election since he does not believe that Singapore needs another Lee in power.
Mr Lee has also been speaking directly to voters in videos and interviews, urging them to give their support to the PSP. In his final video recording on the campaign trail, Mr Lee urged Singaporeans to send a “wake up call” to the government and vote “fearlessly” for the opposition. He added: “No more blank checks. We must rescue the future of the country we love.”
Mr Bilahari Kausikan went on attack mode on Cooling Off Day, ferociously questioning Mr Lee’s intentions in standing with the opposition. Sharing a news article covering Mr Lee’s comments, the ex-ambassador wrote:
“I have two comments/ questions: first, you are a beneficiary of the ‘privilege’ you now eloquently attack. Why? Because you were prevented from monetising the property your brother sold you?
“Second, if you are really so upset, why faff around the margins, trying to cause trouble without responsibility? Your excuse for not standing for election, that there need not be another Lee in politics is hollow: what are you doing if it is not politics? Cowardly!”
Almost 24 hours later, on polling day itself, a Singaporean made a police report against Mr Bilahari at the Tanglin Division Police HQ. The individual who made the police report suggested that the retired diplomat was trying to exert undue influence and sway voters through his post rebuking Mr Lee Hsien Yang.
Mr Bilahari has yet to issue a public comment on this matter. The Independent has reached out to him and will update this article if we receive a response.