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Rhetorics add no value to discourse on Constitutional rights: Tan Wah Piow

In an earlier letter to The Online Citizen, Mr Sam Tan Chin Siong, Minister of State (Prime Minister’s Office) refuted the claims made by political exiles, Mr Ho Juan Thai and Mr Tan Wah Piow, instead drawing attention to recorded facts, such as Ho leaving the country without permission and Tan being allegedly assisted by communists.

The following is a response by Mr Tan Wah Piow to Mr Sam Tan's letter.

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Tan Wah Piow
Tan Wah Piow

Dear Sam,

I am heartened that you have managed to find time to read my two recent articles published on The Online Citizen. Both were written in response to the banning of To Singapore With Love.

I am however rather puzzled by your failure to adequately defend the government’s position.  Given that you made the effort to put your thoughts to paper, I am somewhat disappointed by the arguments that you have raised.

You will recall that in my first article “Who is threatening Singapore’s National Security”, I argued that the banning of Tan Pin Pin’s film on the lives of exiles under the guise of “national security’ was in breach of Article 14 rights of Singaporeans to Freedom of Expression. Plainly speaking and in my opinion, it is a wholly untenable argument. That said, I and I am sure many other Singaporeans, are very open to hearing your views on this. Your silence on this issue is therefore deafening.

In my second article “The making of a new political folklore”, I commented on the successful screenings in London of the banned film. In it, I observed:

“The banning of To Singapore With Love has suddenly propelled this new urge to want to know the missing link in our political history. Now that the genie is out, this issue ofthe others who contributed to the political process but were repressed, can no longer be avoided as Singapore commemorates its 50 years of independence. Pin Pin has managed to weave the exile narrative back into the national fabric.”

While purporting to comment on my articles, it would seem that you have either chosen to ignore the salient points or have nothing by which to rebut the arguments that I have raised. I regret that neither of these scenarios is particularly reassuring.

While I am pleasantly surprised by your efforts to engage me, there must be a nexus between your comments, and what your opponent has written. Otherwise your rebuttal will read like just another rhetorical rehash of a “been there and done that” statement that adds no value to the current discourse.

You will note that in both my articles, I have steered away from the issue of my exile. I took that course of action because the central issue is the Government’s blatant disregard of the citizen’s Constitutional rights. My exile is simply a political distraction from the crux of the issue and I have no wish to play that game.

I have no desire to replay the injustices of yesteryear like a broken record.  Singaporeans’ right to robust discussions on Constitutional rights should not be sidetracked by a tactic called “Smokescreens and Mirrors” which also happens to be the title of my book. If you are inclined to know my response to your baseless allegations, read “The Making of an Outlaw” in “Escape from the Lion’s Paw”. Unlike your good self, I am not paid to partake in tireless reruns.

Sam, if you or any of your colleagues want to have another go at me, do at least have a chat with the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam.  He would not be my regular house-guest in his younger days if I were what you want the readers to believe.

Read my articles again, Sam.