Tuesday, 26 September 2023

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Is it right for a Member of Parliament to incite hatred against citizens?

by Teo Soh Lung

I was watching Channel News Asia last night when the news of what MP Seah Kian Peng wrote on his facebook appeared on the screen. Then out of the blue, my online comment and a screenshot of Singapore Democratic Party election booklet of 2011 appeared.

Only the People’s Action Party (PAP) enjoys the support of Channel News Asia which never fail to publicise anything that puts Singaporeans who disagree with PAP policies or opposition members in bad light.

Let me deal with the unfounded allegation made against me by MP Seah. He wrote:

“Separately, in a comment on a TOC video post, Teo Soh Lung said that “Singapore is part of Malaya la”.
[Photos are below]”

MP Seah is economical in his citation of the TOC video. I took several hours to track the video in question. It is a live stream of a forum held in Johor Baru on 18 August 2018 and titled “Can Singapore Do a Malaysia?

I was at home doing my work and watching the forum.

My comment appeared at 17:08 when Mr Hishamuddin Rais was speaking. The full quote is: “17:08 Agree with Hisham. Democratic space is the first to be preserved. Singapore is part of Malaya la.”

If MP Seah had bothered to listen to the speech of Mr Hishamuddin in its entirety, he would have realised that the speaker was giving the audience a lightly hearted history lesson. He spoke about the beginning of the democratisation process in Malaysia as having begun when the Federation of Malaya gained independence in 1957 and not on 9 May 2018.

As every student of history would know (regrettably, MP Seah probably never studied history in school), Malaya and Singapore were once colonies of Britain. Beginning with the Straits Settlements (Penang, Malacca and Singapore) in 1867, British influence spread to mainland Malaya. The region was colonised until the Second World War.

The British fled South East Asia soon after losing Singapore to the Japanese in 1942. However, when the Japanese lost the war, the British returned to accept Japan’s surrender on 12 September 1945. On 1 April 1946, the British separated Singapore and North Borneo from Peninsula Malaya. Singapore became a crown colony. Penang and Malacca joined the Federation of Malaya. The Malayans as in so many other colonies around the world started to clamour for independence.

Malaya achieved independence in 1957 but not Singapore.

Just in case MP Seah is not aware of his party’s history, let me remind him that the PAP manifesto in 1954 sought to end colonialism and establish an independent nation state of Malaya comprising the Federation of Malaya and the Colony of Singapore.

So, MP Seah, what is wrong with my statement that Singapore is part of Malaya during the time frame Mr Hishamuddin was referring to?

I am not amused by MP Seah Kian Peng’s facebook post. He claims that Dr Thum, Kirsten Han, Sonny Liew, Jolovan Wham and I as well as the SDP are disloyal to Singapore. He instigates his supporters to attack all of us. Incidentally, he deliberately misinforms the public that I am a SDP member. I am not and he knows that. The PAP has a super spy network.

Immediately after the publication of MP Seah’s post, his supporters started baying for blood and telling all of us to leave Singapore. Some called me a traitor and said I deserved to be detained under the ISA. Several said I should never be released.

Is this how a responsible member of parliament should behave? Is it right for him to incite hatred against citizens? Is a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods entitled to spread false information against innocent citizens? Should the prime minister take immediate disciplinary action against MP Seah?

Let me tell MP Seah in no uncertain terms, that I am in some ways more loyal to Singapore than him who has a seat in parliament. I was imprisoned under the ISA for two and a half years in the 1980s. I did not abandon Singapore but continue to fight for what I believe is for the good of Singaporeans i.e. a better, fairer Singapore with freedom and compassion for her people. I continue to persuade Singaporeans to overcome fear and lead normal lives as citizens.

For these reasons, I publish my political memoir Beyond the Blue Gate.

I urge MP Seah to remove his post immediately. I will not lodge a police complaint against him but he should as a member of parliament be responsible.

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