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MP Seah finally apologises to SDP but not the rest

Writing on his Facebook page today (3 Sep), MP Seah Kian Peng finally capitulated and apologised to Singapore Democratic Party amidst online pressure from social media.

"My posting over the weekend has indeed generated a number of comments," he said. "I thank those who supports and agrees with my views. There were of course others who disagree with it which is to be expected."

He then acknowledged SDP's statement that Dr Thum Ping Tjin and Ms Teo Soh Lung are not members of SDP, and as such do not speak for or represent SDP in any way.

"As Ms Teo had previously stood as a SDP candidate in GE2011, I had assumed she was still a member. I apologize for this wrong assumption and thank SDP for the clarification," Seah wrote.

On Sat (1 Sep), commenting on his Facebook page with regard to the recent meeting between Singaporean activists PJ Thum, Kirsten Han, Jolovan Wham and Sonny Liew with Dr Mahathir, Seah took the opportunity to also drag opposition party SDP and Function 8 founder Ms Teo Soh Lung into the fray, accusing all of them trying to bring a foreign power to intervene in Singaporean domestic politics. Neither Ms Teo nor SDP members were present at the meeting with Dr Mahathir.

Seah separately picked a comment by Ms Teo on a TOC video post, pointing out that she had said "Singapore is part of Malaya la". And amazingly, Seah then linked Ms Teo to SDP as well.

"Really? This is what PJ Thum and Teo Soh Lung and the SDP believe in their heart of hearts?" asked Seah categorically.

SDP responds

After Seah's online outburst on Sat, SDP immediately responded the next day (2 Sep) on its Facebook page.

"Dr Thum and Ms Teo are not members of the SDP thus do not speak for the party or represent us in any way. We did not have anything to do with the meeting (with Dr Mahathir) nor did we say anything about the matter. We only learnt about Dr Thum's meeting with Dr Mahathir through reports in the media," SDP responded.

"It is, therefore, bewildering that Mr Seah would drag the SDP into the issue."

SDP added, "We have this message for Mr Seah and his party: Such a clumsy stunt to distract Singaporeans from the real issues is not going to work. The people see through the PAP's silly antics. Mr Seah's post only confirms the people's suspicion that the PAP is desperate, out of ideas and frantically trying to distract the public from the problems they are facing."

"The SDP will stay focused on our work which is to continue speaking up for our fellow Singaporeans, draw up alternative solutions and work for a better Singapore," it said.

Ms Teo responds

Ms Teo was indeed an SDP candidate during the 2011 GE. After the election, she left SDP and went on to found Function 8, an initiative to facilitate the sharing of social, political and economic experiences of those who want to contribute to society through reflection and civic discussion.

She also responded on her Facebook page yesterday (2 Sep) after Seah's Facebook accusations started appearing on mainstream media.

Ms Teo said, "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 SDP election booklet of 2011 appeared."

She then retorted Seah's unfounded allegation made against her, "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 light-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... 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?" asked Ms Teo.

"Incidentally, he deliberately misinform the public that I am a SDP member. I am not and he knows that. The PAP has a super spy network."

But obviously, Seah has been left out of any PAP networks and was not informed that Ms Teo is no longer with SDP. However, he did not apologise to Ms Teo in his Facebook posting.

Netizens asking Seah to apologise to all

Meanwhile, a group of netizens has written an open letter asking Seah to retract his accusations and apologise to the activists who had met with Dr Mahathir.

The group noted that online comments related to Seah’s views have become increasingly inflammatory and pointed out to him that Dr Thum did not invite Dr Mahathir to bring democracy to Singapore. Rather, Dr Thum urged Dr Mahathir to "take leadership in Southeast Asia for the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, and freedom of information."

Dr Thum, in fact, even wrote that he has expressed "hopes for closer relations between the people of Malaysia and Singapore". Nothing in Dr Thum’s post suggests that he had invited Dr Mahathir to "bring democracy to Singapore". Journalist Kirsten Han, who was also at the meeting, has also clarified that no such invitation was issued.

"It is puzzling that Mr Seah should jump to such a conclusion," the group said.

Seah also took issue with a separate post by Dr Thum wishing Malaysians "Selemat Hari Merdeka" and Singaporeans "happy unofficial independence day". Seah concluded that this means Dr Thum believes "Singapore is part of Malaysia".

"A simple search online shows that Lee Kuan Yew himself declared de facto independence for Singapore on 31 August 1963," the group pointed out. "Dr Thum was merely referencing history when he wished his fellow Singaporeans 'happy unofficial independence day'."

"Mr Seah’s Facebook post has incited unwarranted feelings of resentment towards Singaporeans who have done nothing to betray their country. We are deeply disappointed that an elected official and member of the Select Committee on Online Falsehoods is himself propagating misinformation," the group added.

"The MP might have no malicious intent and might even believe he is doing a service to Singapore, but it is clear he has trouble discerning facts from falsehoods. He should not be a member of the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods. We call on him to resign, apologise and retract his post immediately."