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Alfian Sa’at finally tells his side of the story after Yale-NUS cancels course on dissent and resistance

The Singaporean playwright felt that his silence was being taken advantage of and added that he had detailed emails and Whatsapp messages to disprove the allegations against him

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A Yale-NUS College programme that was meant to introduce students to various modes of dissent and organising resistance here has been cancelled. After keeping mum thus far, Alfian Sa’at wrote on social media saying, “I don’t like to be scapegoated” and felt that the school was taking advantage of his silence.

The course, due to run from September 29 to October 5, would have been led by Singaporean playwright Alfian Sa’at in collaboration with programme manager Tan Yock Theng of the university.

Mr Alfian, resident playwright at local theatre company Wild Rice, is a poet, playwright and short story writer known for his work, which has delved into topics of race, sexuality and politics.

In his social media post, Sa’at wrote, “I have tried to be as restrained as possible, and have rejected all press interviews, because I expected the college to handle the matter in a transparent and professional manner. When the college organised meetings with their staff and town halls, and never invited me to present my account, I did not raise any objection. Naively, I thought that this would be the ‘gentlemanly’ thing to do.

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To my surprise, a narrative was produced that was at odds with my own experience of interacting with the college. My silence was being taken advantage of”.

He added that he had detailed emails and Whatsapp messages to disprove the allegations against him.

The itinerary of the course included plans for a screening of Singaporean independent film-maker Jason Soo’s 1987: Untracing The Conspiracy, a film which focuses on detainees arrested under the Internal Security Act in 1987, a workshop on designing protest signs and a panel discussion with freelance journalist Kirsten Han, veteran journalist P.N. Balji and historian Thum Ping Tjin. Later plans also included showing a documentary on Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, a Straits Times article reported.

Adding that he is in the process of crafting his own media release, he questioned, “What will happen when it is proven that some members of a college–a college supposedly devoted to the pursuit of truth and knowledge and high principles–have been lying?”. /TISG

Read related: Alfian Sa’at responds after Yale-NUS cancels course on dissent and resistance

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