Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has thrown his weight behind his ruling party colleague Seah Kian Peng after the latter slammed local activists after they met Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad this past Thursday.
Historian Dr Thum Ping Tjin, journalist Kirsten Han, activist Jolovan Wham, and comic artist Sonny Liew had met the Malaysian leader at an event hosted by Malaysian political activist Hishammuddin Rais and exiled Singapore activist Tan Wah Piow.
The group who met Dr Mahathir shared pictures of their visit on social media, and some of them shared a little bit about their interactions with the nonagenarian.
While the group has clarified that the meeting was just a group of individuals getting to know Dr Mahathir up close, PAP MP Seah 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, wrote:
“PJ Thum and friends ( including Kirsten Han, Sonny Liew, Jolovan Wham) meet DR M, invite Dr M to bring democracy to Singapore, and suggest that Singapore is part of Malaya.
“PJ Thum, Kirsten Han, Jolovan Wham and Sonny Liew met with Dr Mahathir on Thursday. Dr Thum invited Dr Mahathir to bring democracy to Singapore. I wonder what deep historical insight prompted him to make this plea, to Dr M, whose views on the Water Agreement with Singapore, and Singapore knowing its place in relation to Malaysia are well known.”
In her response to Seah’s post, Kirsten Han wrote on her blog that “PJ did not say that he asked Mahathir to bring democracy to Singapore, nor did I hear him say such a thing during the meeting.”
Seah continued on Facebook: “PJ Thum went further the next day. On August 31, Malaysia’s “national day”, he posted an unusual greeting, “Selamat Hari Merdeka to the people of the former Federation of Malaya”, and suggested that Singaporeans should also rejoice on that day since it was Singapore’s “unofficial independence day”.”
Seah was referring to this post by Dr Thum:
Selamat Hari Merdeka to the people of the former Federation of Malaya! (and happy unofficial independence day to the people of Singapore!)
While Seah seems to think that Dr Thum considers Merdeka Day to be the “unofficial independence day to the people of Singapore,” Dr Thum was most likely referring to the fact that Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew declared de facto independence on 31 August 1963.
The de facto independence that Lee declared, and that Dr Thum is probably referring to, had nothing to do with Merdeka Day.
According to Government-run website HistorySG:
“On 31 August 1963, then Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew declared de facto independence for the island state ahead of the official proclamation of the Federation of Malaysia…A ceremonial rally was held on the steps of City Hall on 31 August to mark the occasion, and Lee made a speech where he pledged Singapore’s loyalty to the federal government in Kuala Lumpur. He stated that this loyalty “transcends party rivalries and petty personal differences” and was “an unalterable principle” to the unity and prosperity of Malaysia. In addition, Lee noted that declaring Singapore’s de facto independence was “an assertion of [its] right to freedom” and it signified the end of British colonial rule in Singapore.”
Perhaps Seah was not aware of the significance of this day for Singaporeans. He continued:
“Separately, in a comment on a TOC video post, Teo Soh Lung said that “Singapore is part of Malaya la”. Really? This is what PJ Thum and Teo Soh Lung and the SDP believe in their heart of hearts?
“(Note she says “Malaya”, not “Malaysia”. This was what the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) maintained – that Malaysia was an imperialist plot, and Singapore’s separation and independence was a sham.)
“Is it also a coincidence that they had accompanied Tan Wah Piow on this visit to Dr M? Tan was convicted for rioting in 1975 and slipped out of Singapore upon his release from prison to avoid National Service. Several of Tan’s comrades from that time subsequently joined the CPM’s radio station, “Voice of the Malayan Revolution”, in Changsha, China.”
To date, Tan Wah Piow maintains that he was framed by the Government and fled to London, England fearing an accidental death while he served his National Service. In 1987, Tan’s Singapore citizenship was revoked since he lived overseas continuously for over a decade.
His citizenship was revoked under Section 135 (1) of the Singapore constitution, which was only introduced two years prior, in 1985.
Alleging that Dr Thum thought “it is permissible to ask its current prime minister to interfere in our affairs,” Seah 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.”
“I’m amazed that Dr Thum and his supporters should proclaim that Singapore is part of Malaysia (or Malaya). Perhaps that is why he thinks it is permissible to ask its current prime minister to interfere in our affairs.
“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.
“Perhaps I should remind PJ Thum that our Constitution requires any change to the sovereignty of Singapore to be approved by two-thirds of all voters in a referendum. This requirement was put in by our founding leaders. As a result of our searing experience in the 23 months when we were part of Malaysia, they knew how important it was to safeguard our independence and sovereignty.
“When moving this constitutional amendment in Parliament, our first Minister for Law, and the author of the Separation Agreement, Mr EW Barker, said that “in the methodology of the destruction of a nation by its foes, war by force of arms is not necessarily the only means employed. The independence of a nation may, by more subtle means, be subverted.”
“He also said: “The seductive blandishments of foreign agents must not be allowed to succeed.”
“Quite right and I am sure Singaporeans will agree with that.”
While Seah’s post prompted a majority of Singaporeans responding to his argument to express concerns over local activists meeting with a foreign head of government, some have accused Seah of fear-mongering with his post.
The Singapore Democratic Party was one such voice as it said in a statement, “Such a clumsy stunt to distract Singaporeans from the real issues is not going to work. The people see through the PAP’s silly antics. Mr Seah’s post only confirms the people’s suspicion that the PAP is desperate, out of ideas and frantically trying to distract the public from the problems they are facing.”
In a Facebook post, PAP MP Seah Kian Peng talked about the recent meeting some Singaporeans had with Malaysian PM…
Even as the opposition party expressed its support for the activists who met Dr Mahathir, top Government leader K. Shanmugam has thrown his weight behind Seah. Sharing Seah’s post on Facebook, the Minister said: “Kian Peng makes some good points about the very surprising statements that are being made about Singapore’s sovereignty.”
Kian Peng makes some good points about the very surprising statements that are being made about Singapore’s…
PJ Thum and friends ( including Kirsten Han, Sonny Liew, Jolovan Wham) meet DR M, invite Dr M to bring democracy to…