by: Ravi Philemon
The Aam Admi Party (translated: Common Man Party), is a new political party formerly launched in India in November 2012. The Party was the second-largest winner in a recent state assembly elections in India, and has formed the Government in the state of Delhi. The leader of this political party, Arvind Kejriwal, is now the Chief Minister of that state.
That political party which is on the rise in India, has claimed on its website that “the AAP has supporters around the world, passionate individuals who volunteer their time and skills. They contribute to the party in India as well as spread awareness about it globally.”
It has been reported that besides the citizens of India who are not resident in that country, people of Indian origin (non-citizens of India) have also donated large sums of money to this political Party. According to one news site, the Party collected about $40,000 (Indian Rupees 19,000,000) from donors in Singapore.
The leader of the Party had in the recent past acknowledged the contributions of supporters who are not citizens of India but are concerned about Indian politics saying that “it is heartening and humbling to know that people of Indian origin from across the globe care so deeply about bringing change to Indian politics”.
The Party boasts on its website that its network of support called “Hangout with Arvind”, is spread to over 100 cities across four continents. The Party also has an official network here in Singapore.
The official network of this Party had reportedly tried to deceitfully hijack an official celebration in the Singapore High Commission, to raise funds for AAM.
The High Commission of India, Singapore, has distanced itself from this fund raising effort.
The official network of AAM in Singapore organised a get-together with Indian politician and executive member of AAM, Shazia Ilmi, yesterday.
When some supporters of the Indian political party commenting on the group’s Facebook post asked why they were not informed of this get-together with the Indian politician, the organisers replied that they had short notice of Shazia’s schedule and so had to organise it in a hall which could accommodate about 30 people.
In October 2011, filmmaker Martyn See was investigated by the police for inviting politicians from foreign countries, Tian Chua from Malaysia and Mu Sochua from Cambodia, to speak at a Forum.
Also, when the former Menteri Besar of Johor, Abdul Ghani Othman, tried to canvas for votes from Malaysians who commute to work in Singapore by riding in a bus into Singapore, a police spokesperson had reportedly said, that “no one is allowed to publicise a cause or campaign, or demonstrate support for or opposition to any persons or government without a police permit”.
How will the authorities now respond to these supporters and network of this Indian political party in Singapore?
In the year 1999, in responding to a question from a polytechnic student asking if certain instinctive emotional bonds among the ethnic groups could be overcome, then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had said:
“If for instance, you put in a Malay officer who’s very religious and who has family ties in Malaysia in charge of a machine-gun unit, that’s a very tricky business.
“We’ve got to know his background. I’m saying these things because they are real, and if I don’t think that, and I think even if today the Prime Minister doesn’t think carefully about this, we could have a tragedy.”
Never mind that this community of people Mr Lee was referring to are not only citizens of Singapore, but also have no known links to the politics of a foreign country. Mr Lee wondered if you can fully trust a group of people who you suspect have divided loyalties.
If indeed there are citizens in this network of supporters of the Indian political party, then that would be very troubling because their loyalty to the nation is not only perceived to be divided, it would actually be.
With more than 40 percent of the population here being foreigners and with the perceived affluence of the country, Singapore is an attractive target for foreign political parties and related organisations to reach out to its nationals and others with emotional bonds to the ethnic groups, to raise funds for its cause.
Even if there are laws here in Singapore to prevent foreign political parties from campaigning in Singapore, there seems to be no legislation in place to stop anyone, citizens or non-citizens, from making donations to the cause of their choice anywhere in the world.
In the absence of such laws, it will certainly serve Singapore well if we are more selective about who we give our citizenships to, for if we are not, it may have huge implications for our total defence.
The undivided loyalty of all citizens should be towards Singapore.