Veteran journalist Bertha Henson has decided to ban Polish blogger Michael Petraeus from her Facebook page.
Mr Petraeus, the man behind the blog Critical Spectator, is a marketing and design consultant who has been based in Singapore since 2016. He is known for publishing blog posts that are overwhelmingly supportive of the Singapore Government — so much so that he has been accused of being a part of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) Internet Brigade.
The blogger’s posts are frequently shared by pro-PAP pages like the “Fabrications about PAP” Facebook page as well as by certain well-known figures, like Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife and Temasek CEO Ho Ching.
Last year, Ms Henson shared one of Mr Petraeus’ blog posts on her personal Facebook page and quipped that he should be given a Singapore passport. He had written about how the mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, could have been avoided if the world had studied and followed the Singapore model.
On Thursday (Jan 16), however, Ms Henson announced that she would be banning him from her Facebook page if she received 100 “likes” on her post.
Ms Henson said: “According to the rules of engagement on this wall, I am asking to ban Michael Petraeus. I find him loutish, abhorrent and totally devoid of civility. He claims to be a great intellect but look deeper at what he says and it’s really just personal attacks with big words used.
“He has been doing this constantly on my wall and I have tolerated it. But I have to conclude he’s a horrible person and extremely toxic. I also think he’s just invading my wall to get some profile. I hope at least 100 of you agree with me. Please like this post if you agree.”
Ms Henson ended up receiving more than 1,000 “likes” on her Facebook post:
This is not the first time Mr Petraeus has clashed with a prominent Singaporean. In October last year, Singaporean academic Cherian George called him a “troll” after he published their private email exchanges online.
The disagreement between them arose after Dr George criticised The Straits Times on Twitter for “supporting the Singapore Government’s attack on independent journalists, not for lack of professional ability but for want of ethical application”.
Mr Petraeus disagreed with Dr George on Twitter and went on to email the academic when he did not receive a reply on Twitter. In his email to Dr George, Mr Petraeus called his views a “swipe” against the Singapore Government and accused the academic of “fighting for freedom as long as it is freedom on your terms only”.
In response to Mr Petraeus’ complaint that he “failed” to engage in discussion online, Dr George sharply responded that he engages in discussion with those he feels can contribute meaningfully to an exchange.
Mr Petraeus took offence and accused Dr George of “intellectual dishonesty” before accusing him of being a “self-righteous academic with no meaningful contribution — and zero responsibility — for any society…” He then made their email exchange public.
Asserting that people like Mr Petraeus hurt the ruling party, Dr George subsequently tweeted: “Couldn’t resist feeding this troll. He’s made our emails public. Wonder if PAP knows how trolls like him and Calvin Cheng hurt it. The populist demons PAP’s using to suffocate critics will poison the culture sustaining its antipopulist technocratic model.”
Send in your scoop to firstname.lastname@example.org