Foreign dignitaries can be invited to National Day celebrations but only as observers: Ng Eng Hen

Foreign dignitaries can be invited to National Day celebrations but only as observers: Ng Eng Hen

2018 National Day Parade fireworks
Fireworks at the Float @ Marina Bay for the 2018 National Day Parade. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Foreign dignitaries can be invited to share Singapore's joy and pride during its National Day celebrations but only as observers, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Thursday (Sep 6). 

In a Facebook post, Dr Ng wrote: "Let there be no doubt that the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) will organise National Day celebrations only on Aug 9. 

"And to make sure that we can do so every year as Singaporeans, and not as any other nationality, the SAF pledge is to protect Singapore’s independence and sovereignty 'with our lives'."

The Defence Minister's comments come after a Facebook post by historian Thum Ping Tjin on Aug 31, in which he wished Singaporeans "happy unofficial independence day" on Malaysia's independence day. 

"Selamat Hari Merdeka to the people of the former Federation of Malaya! (and happy unofficial independence day to the people of Singapore!)" Dr Thum wrote in the post.

The post was criticised by Member of Parliament Sean Kian Peng, who said Dr Thum "does not wish Singapore well" and that he was "amazed that Dr Thum and his supporters should proclaim that Singapore is part of Malaysia (or Malaya)". 

READ: Historian Thum Ping Tjin "does not wish Singapore well", says MP Seah Kian Peng

Dr Thum and two other activists - Ms Kirsten Han and Mr Jolovan Wham - have also been criticised by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam for their meeting with Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad, where they invited the Malaysian prime minister to speak at a democracy conference.

The activists sent a letter of complaint on Wednesday to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his capacity as secretary-general of the People's Action Party, disputing that Dr Thum had said that Singapore is part of Malaya. 

“It is a huge stretch to suggest that wishing Singaporeans a ‘happy unofficial independence day’ is tantamount to expressing an opinion that Singapore is a part of Malaysia today,” the letter said.

Source: CNA/mz(cy)