SINGAPORE: Three activists who were criticised by MP Seah Kian Peng and Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam over their meeting with Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad have sent a letter of complaint to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his capacity as secretary-general of the People's Action Party (PAP).
The letter, signed by historian Thum Ping Tjin, journalist Kirsten Han and civil rights activist Jolovan Wham, was sent on Wednesday (Sep 5), according to a Facebook post by Ms Han. A similar copy of the letter was also sent to Mr Charles Chong, chairman of the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods.
The letter comes after Mr Seah and Mr Shanmugam criticised the meeting between the group – which included political dissident Tan Wah Piow and graphic novelist Sonny Liew – and Dr Mahathir, where they invited the Malaysian prime minister to speak at a democracy conference.
In a Facebook post after the meeting, Mr Seah said Dr Thum “does not wish Singapore well” and had invited Dr Mahathir to “bring democracy to Singapore”. Referring to a Facebook post by Dr Thum, which appeared to suggest that Singaporeans should celebrate Malaysia’s independence day, Mr Seah said Dr Thum had suggested Singapore is part of Malaya.
The activists’ letter disputed that Dr Thum had asked Dr Mahathir to bring democracy to Singapore or interfere in Singapore’s affairs. “Mr Seah has not provided any other substantiation for his claims,” they wrote.
On the celebration of Malaysia’s independence day, the activists said: “Our first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew declared de facto independence on Aug 31, 1963, signifying the end of British colonial rule in Singapore.
“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 activists claimed Mr Seah's comments have had the effect of inciting accusations of treason, and there have been calls for their arrests, detention and even deaths.
They said the allegations have been amplified by the PAP's official Facebook page and by Mr Shanmugam, who like Mr Seah is a member of the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods.
“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 to Mr Lee.
“As the leader of the People’s Action Party, we urge you to look into this issue, and take leadership in promoting responsible behaviour among members of your party.”
In the letter to Mr Chong, the group said it was “ironic” that members of the Select Committee “are themselves making public allegations without adequate substantiation or evidence”.
“This episode also emphasises points previously made that any solution or penalty we ultimately adopt to counter online falsehoods should also apply to the government, as states themselves can be a source of misinformation and disinformation.”