Referring to a photo of the police gathered at Dr Ping Tjin Thum’s office to confiscate his laptop, local playwright Alfian Sa’at wrote that he “felt that the transmission of the image is meant to have a chilling effect”.
In a Facebook post on Thursday (Sep 24), Mr Alfian said that he thought “it’s crucial that we stand with” PJ Thum and urged people to not only subscribe and donate to the New Naratif, but also to “Write a letter to the Elections Department expressing your concern over the police report they have made”.
PJ Thum was interrogated for four and a half hours following a report lodged against New Naratif by the Elections Department (ELD). “On Sept 18, the ELD released a press statement stating that the Assistant Returning Officer had filed a police report against New Naratif and alleged that New Naratif published ‘paid advertisements that amounted to the illegal conduct of election activity under s83(2) of the Parliamentary Elections Act (PEA) during the recent 2020 General Election,’” New Naratif explained in its website on Sept 19.
The statement noted “Multiple experts and observers, including the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), have previously questioned the independence of the ELD and its politicisation as part of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), and condemned Singapore’s Elections as ‘neither free nor fair.’”
On Monday (Sept 21), Mr Thum uploaded a video of himself noting he was being questioned at the Clementi Police Station for the lodged police report.
Mr Alfian said that he looked up to the work of PJ Thum and added: “I have never understood the charge that PJ’s scholarship is pernicious because it is so-called ‘revisionist’, or that it presents a ‘false history’”.
There was a photo circulating of the police gathered at Dr Pingtjin Thum’s office to confiscate his laptop. While it was…
He explained that a popular idea of history is merely a ‘record of what happened’.
“But often we’re not only talking about certain empirical facts, like the date at which something happened or the people who were present at a meeting. For these, an infidelity to the facts will produce a false date and a false list of names. But often what we’re trying to do is construct arguments based on an interpretation of the sources”, Mr Alfian wrote.
He continued that PJ Thum’s work has shown him “how one can write a history based on previously neglected or unavailable sources, such as Chinese-language sources, or recently declassified documents”.
He added: “If anything, I’d say if there’s anything a historian like him has popularised, it’s the idea that what lies behind history is a historical method”. /TISG