By Ravi Philemon
I refer to the letter from Nilesh Sahita in response to my earlier article, “Total Defence and implications of divided loyalty of new citizens”.
This response to my article claims that I was factually inaccurate and had unnecessarily/arbitrarily linked the issue of total defence with loyalties of new citizens. But instead of stating why my article was inaccurate, the writer goes on to confirm many of the points I had raised in my article.
Pointing to the laws of India, the writer claims that non-citizens of India are not able to donate large sums of money to the Indian political party. The writer though fails to point out that the Indian political party he is referring to, Aam Adhmi Party (AAM), is being investigated by India’s Home Ministry for “alleged illegal foreign funding to it”.
Nilesh said in his article that AAM has no official network here in Singapore. But he fails to clarify why then does the Party specifically refer to this group in Singapore in its official Party website (link provided in my article). Nilesh also in saying that there are “very few immigrant Singapore citizens”, confirms that there are new citizens in this group.
The writer tries to explain away why the supporters of the foreign political party did not deceitfully hijack an official celebration in the High Commission India, Singapore (HCIS), to raise funds for AAP. But he fails to explain adequately why HCIS thought it was important and necessary to distance itself from this effort.
Pointing to an article in The Straits Times which reported about out how some Indonesians here in Singapore are supporting their politicians in Indonesia, Nilesh argues that there is nothing wrong in doing so. But he fails to mention that the ST article did not delve into if the support of the Indonesians here was legal or not.
Nilesh, tries to argue why it is alright for politicians of certain foreign countries to canvass for support here, but not alright for others. Again, he does not mention what the law in Singapore says about such canvassing.
He says that the article unrealistically expects ex-citizens of large countries to be uninterested in the politics of that country. My article makes no such reference. It is one thing to be interested in the politics of another country, but in my opinion, not alright to unnecessarily interfere in it.
Nilesh suggests that what the Singapore Government does not want is, for foreigners to have outdoor protests. Other than that, anything is permissible. Again, these are his assumptions and he has not backed it up with any reference to any piece of existing legislation.
The purpose of me writing the original article is in reference to what I perceive to be our national defence agenda, and also because I see a need to prevent double standards.
Soon after my article was published in TOC, I had a call from a person who is a member of the group of AAM supporters in Singapore. This person told me how my article had ruffled the feathers of some in his group. In trying to convince me why I was wrong in writing it, he suggested to me that there is much National Solidarity Party (the political party that I am a member of) can learn from the Indian political party. That to me confirms why there is absolutely nothing jingoistic about the article I wrote.
In my opinion, the politics of Singapore should be reserved for Singaporeans.