Much as it pains me to say this, the Singapore government led by the People’s Action Party really is a one trick pony. The bogeyman that the PAP government never tires of is that of the “scary foreigner intent on messing in local politics”. For those old enough to remember, “communists” were blamed for trying to gain control of Singapore in the 60s. This prompted the controversial Operation Cold Store which saw over a hundred people detained without charge.
Operation Cold Store has been heavily criticised not just for the alleged use of torture and unlawful detentions without charge, but also for being used as a front to arrest individuals who were political opponents to the then-budding PAP government. Was the threat of foreign communist influences grossly exaggerated in order to permit certain political ambitions to be attained?
Next, we have Operation Spectrum in the 80s where the Marxist spectre once again rears its ugly head. Here enters Tan Wah Biow who was accused of leading a Marxist conspiracy intent on toppling the PAP government. Even the United States was dragged into the furore when lawyer Francis Seow was accused of being an American agent. The notion of a Marxist conspiracy has since been widely debunked. Nor has Francis Seow ever been proven an American agent. On hindsight, was this all an elaborate ruse to silence those who were asking too many inconvenient questions?
Now we have Member of Parliament Seah Kian Peng and Minister K Shanmugam accusing local historian PJ Thum of allegedly inviting Dr. Mahathir to bring democracy to Singapore. Factually, Thum did no such thing. He had asked Dr. M to provide leadership to South East Asia. At no point in time, did Thum invite Dr. M to bring democracy to Singapore.
Are the PAP politicians resurrecting the foreign bogeyman again? Are they deliberately misunderstanding Thum as an excuse to turn Singaporeans against Thum? Are they using this as an opportunity to take critics of the PAP government down?
Clearly, there seems to be a trend. When someone criticises the Singapore government, muddy the waters by introducing a foreign element. Confuse the public with the substance of what is being said by introducing new distractions. Throw in a sinister plot of foreigners intent on meddling in local politics. In some way, this ploy has already worked.
Netizens are already taking to the internet to denounce Thum as a traitor. Truth be told however, Thum has never said anything against Singapore. He may have criticised the government but he certainly did not criticise the country of Singapore. Can Singaporeans not see the difference? Has the PAP government succeeded so thoroughly in misleading Singaporeans to confuse PAP criticism with treason? Has the ruse of the foreign bogeyman worked yet again?
Sad to say, perhaps you really cannot teach an old dog new tricks.