PAP's Shamsul Kamar says his Facebook post about woman in PA standee saga ‘misunderstood’ by many
SINGAPORE: Many people seem to have “misunderstood” his “key intention” of sharing a post from the Facebook page of Fabrications About the PAP, said the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Shamsul Kamar on Friday (Jun 18).
The PAP representative for the Kaki Bukit division under Aljunied GRC was responding to CNA’s queries about his Facebook post on Thursday that has been criticised by online commenters.
The post showed a photo of Sarah Bagharib – the woman whose wedding photo was turned into a cut-out standee as part of Hari Raya decorations by the People’s Association (PA) – placed next to a photo of a Workers’ Party (WP) team doing their house visits. The interpretation of many commentators is that the masked woman in the WP photo is implied to be Ms Sarah.
When Mr Shamsul shared the post, he added the caption: “For all to decide … Everything happens for a reason but let’s not be divisive.”
Since sharing the post, several online commenters have said that the woman in the WP photo is not Ms Sarah. Others have questioned the point of Mr Shamsul’s post even if the woman in the photo was her.
In the comments section on his post, several people also called out Mr Shamsul for sharing the post by Fabrications About the PAP – a page that was unpublished during the General Elections 2020 for violating Facebook policies.
Facebook removes accounts that clearly violate its policies, including people who misrepresent themselves, use fake accounts, or engage in behaviour designed to enable other violations of its community standards.
“Seriously, sharing a post by FAP and acting as though it's a fact. That's a real new low...,” said one commenter.
Another asked Mr Shamsul to take down the post and apologise.
"This post perpetuates fake news and has caused distress to the woman mistakenly identified in the photo (I am her friend). If you wish to have any remaining semblance of decency you should stop gaslighting others and admit that reposting this divisive post from a troll page was a mistake," the commenter wrote.
However, Mr Shamsul told CNA it seemed “many misunderstood my key intention of sending the message which was for everyone to stay united rather than being divisive especially during this pandemic period".
“If you have read my other posts especially on my public page, this has been a consistent message I have been advocating to fight this pandemic together,” he added.
Mr Shamsul said that he “merely reshared” the post and “added in my immediate thoughts” when he saw the original post on Thursday.
“Like most people, I do share other posts that I see on my feed from time to time. I did not mention that it was Sarah nor anyone else and it didn’t cross my mind to do so,” he added.
Mr Shamsul is part of the five-person PAP team that contested Aljunied GRC in the 2015 and 2020 General Elections. His team lost to the incumbent WP team both times.
WOMAN IN WP PHOTO SPEAKS UP
CNA reached out to the masked woman in the photo of WP's members, who confirmed over a video call that she isn't Ms Sarah.
"The photo was taken earlier this year in the constituency I live in, which is Marine Parade. I was volunteering to walk around with Nathaniel Koh," she told CNA.
"Obviously the photo was taken out of context, because if you see the post that Nathaniel made, there are other photos of me that show it's clearly not Ms Sarah in those photos."
The woman, who requested anonymity, had also reached out to Mr Shamsul and the Fabrications About the PAP page asking them to remove the post.
"Both of them replied me and their answers were essentially the same, which is that I have misunderstood it and I need to reread the post," she said.
"It's very disappointing. I didn't expect much from the Facebook page, but when Mr Shamsul said the same thing, I was shocked."
PEOPLE’S ASSOCIATION STANDEE CONTROVERSY
On May 28, Ms Sarah noted that her wedding photo was used in a PA standee for a Hari Raya event without her permission.
The PA publicly apologised and offered to meet with her to address any other queries which she might have.
Ms Sarah then posted a response to PA's apology on Jun 1, saying that the issue was not just about copyright infringement, but a "larger issue affecting the wider Malay/Muslim community".
READ: People's Association apologises after wedding photo of couple used as Hari Raya standee without their permission
Then on Jun 14, the PA released a statement retracting its offer to meet with Ms Sarah.
"We find this odd. We do not see why our meeting should be appropriated as a platform for her to funnel the views and comments of persons unrelated to the incident," the PA said.
"All these lead us to believe her purpose in agreeing to meet with us has gone far beyond the Radin Mas incident. We therefore see no point in proceeding with the meeting."
READ: Cancelled meeting with PA a 'missed opportunity for constructive dialogue', says woman in standee controversy
The PA also said that Ms Sarah characterised the standee incident as “racist” by lumping it with "other racist attacks and incidents" in one of her posts.