Singapore—Professor Cherian George, one of the speakers who was abruptly replaced for a webinar titled “Public Discourse Truth & Trust” organized by Raffles Hall Association, said that he had been informed by the organizer last Friday (Oct 23) that the National University of Singapore (NUS) had wanted to cancel the event, according to a report from Yahoo News.
The webinar, which is scheduled for this Sunday evening (Nov 1) was originally supposed to have Professor George as well as fellow academic Donald Low, the authors of a book published last week entitled “PAP vs PAP: The Party’s struggle to adapt to a changing Singapore,” as speakers. The two professors are based in Hong Kong.
Without explanation, the lineup of speakers was abruptly changed to Al Ramirez Dizon, a former journalist with Singapore Press Holdings, Shobha Avadhani, a lecturer in New Media from NUS, and Arun Mahizhnan, a special research adviser at the Institute of Policy Studies.
Confusion ensued online as people who had signed up for the webinar wondered what had happened that resulted in the original speakers being replaced.
In the aftermath of the questions posed online, Mr Arun announced that he had withdrawn from the seminar, saying in a comment over social media that he “wished to let everyone know that the organiser of the forum did not give” him “a full briefing of what had transpired earlier,” and that he “wasn’t even aware that the previous arrangement” had “been publicised.” Prof George had given him a “full briefing” on the matter, he added.
Yahoo News Singapore reported that Prof George said that he and Prof Low had been invited last month by Raffles Hall Association, and added that “The organiser called me last Friday and told me the NUS wanted the event cancelled.”
The report added that Prof Low said that as of Wednesday morning (Oct 28), he had not been updated concerning his and Prof George’s participation in the webinar from the time that they received the invitation to speak.
An apology was issued to Raffles Hall alumni on Wednesday by Sonny Yuen, the group’s founding president, who wrote the following Facebook post.
“…We apologise to the alumni for the changes that have to be made re the speakers, but we continue the important conversations on the today’s (social) media world where we apparently can no longer trust what we read, see or hear.
Please note that all RHA Learning events are private events for RH Alumni only.
As this is a closed-door community and voluntary event, the programme and its contents are developed at the organizer’s discretion…”
Mr Yuen also noted in an Oct 27 Facebook post that only Ms Avadhani and Mr Dizon would be speaking at the seminar. —/TISG