SINGAPORE: Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam "stands by the comments" he made on Sep 2 regarding historian Thum Ping Tjin and his fellow activists, his press secretary Sunny Lee said in a statement on Wednesday (Sep 5).
Mr Lee's statement comes after Dr Thum, along with freelance journalist Kirsten Han and civil rights activist Jolovan Wham, sent a letter of complaint to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earlier on Wednesday regarding comments made by Member of Parliament Seah Kian Peng and Mr Shanmugam.
Mr Lee said in his statement that the purpose of the letter is to "divert attention from the conduct of the writers". He added that Mr Shanmugam "has no desire to prolong this matter", but "will nevertheless respond to their complaints, to put the facts on the record".
"We can have vigorous debates within Singapore about our own affairs. But you cross a red-line when you invite foreign powers or foreign leaders into Singapore politics," said Mr Shanmugam's press secretary.
Mr Seah wrote in a Facebook post following a meeting between the activists and Malaysia Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad that Dr Thum "does not wish Singapore well" and had invited Dr Mahathir to "bring democracy to Singapore".
Mr Shanmugam then said on Sunday: "I think the whole conduct is a little sad, a bit regretful ... We should never go out and invite someone foreign, a foreign politician to intervene in our domestic politics. I think that is an absolute no-no.
"I think it's quite clear what that means."
Dr Thum subsequently hit out at those comments, and said that any notion that he was a traitor was "ridiculous and unfounded".
In the letter sent to the Prime Minister on Wednesday, the activists said that Mr Seah did not provide any other substantiation for his claims, which were "amplified" by Mr Shanmugam and the People's Action Party's official Facebook Page.
“It is highly irresponsible for Mr Seah and Mr Shanmugam – members of the People’s Action Party in positions of power – to be making public allegations without adequate substantiation or evidence,” the activists wrote in their letter.
A similar copy of the letter was also sent to Mr Charles Chong, chairman of the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods.
The statement by Mr Lee said that Dr Thum had invited Dr Mahathir to address a conference about promoting democracy in Southeast Asia, "which obviously includes Singapore".
It also said that Mr Wham had asked “what’s wrong” in Dr Thum asking Dr Mahathir to bring democracy to Singapore, and that he said “international political pressure is part of activism”.
Dr Thum also believes Singapore should be part of Malaya, said Mr Lee, and declared that it was his "fervent wish" that Singapore "will one day return to our rightful place alongside our brothers and sisters in Malaya", and pointed that Dr Thum had made several other posts to similar effect.
"The three individuals claim that they are patriots. It is not patriotic to invite any foreign leader to intervene in Singapore politics, especially the leader of a country who has declared his desire to increase the price of water to Singapore by more than ten times, and with whom we seek to maintain close and friendly relations," Mr Lee added in his statement.