On Sat (1 Sep), MP Seah Kian Peng commented on his Facebook page with regard to the recent meeting between Historian Thum Ping Tjin, Freelance journalist Kirsten Han, Activist Jolovan Wham and Award-winning comic artist, Sonny Liew with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
In his post, Seah took the opportunity to also drag opposition party Singapore Democratic 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.
Dr Thum posted a Facebook post on Monday, said that “any notion that I am a traitor to my country is ridiculous and unfounded”, and that he also believes in engaging Singapore’s northern neighbour cordially and with “mutual respect”, particularly as “Malaysia is now a beacon of hope for democracy in Southeast Asia” under the new Pakatan Harapan government.
Activist Kirsten Han, who was also present at the meeting with Dr Mahathir in Putrajaya last Thursday alongside Dr Thum, Wham and Liew, said that no one at the meeting has expressed “the belief that Singapore is a part of Malaysia”, and that Mr Seah’s allegations on the matter were “unfounded”, based on the historical facts she had cited in her blog post regarding the issue.
Ms Han has also expressed her disappointment regarding the mainstream media and PAP online social media channels’ act of sharing the “unfounded” allegation, as “triggering a torrent of accusations of treason” and even “death threats”.
She also wrote in response to Mr Seah’s comment that it is “interesting” that she would associate herself with Dr Thum, declaring that it is “a great honour and privilege to work with someone who cares so much”, adding that Mr Seah should “retract his baseless statements”.
SDP has responded to Mr Seah’s allegation – “This is what PJ Thum and Teo Soh Lung and the SDP believe in their heart of hearts?” – by confirming that “Dr Thum and Ms Teo are not members of the SDP, thus do not speak for the party, or represent us in any way”, adding that they only came to know of Dr Thum’s meeting with Dr Mahathir “through the media”.
While SDP found Mr Seah’s allegation against the party “bewildering”, SDP believed that Mr Seah’s accusation is merely a tactic to divert Singaporeans’ attention from PAP’s controversies revolving around “ministers’ salaries, the HDB 99-year lease, and the rising cost of living”, and that the allegation was merely a “desperate” and “clumsy stunt” that will not work on the public.
In a blog post last Saturday (1 Sep), Ms Han wrote that “it’s also a little random to drag the Singapore Democratic Party into this, as Soh Lung hasn’t been a member of the party for quite some time”.
Ms Teo Soh Lung, whose name was specifically pointed out by Mr Seah in the latter’s Facebook post, has fired back against Mr Seah’s accusation that “Separately, in a comment on a TOC video post, Teo Soh Lung said that “Singapore is part of Malaya la”, saying that “MP Seah is economical in his citation of the TOC video”, which “is a live stream of a forum held in Johor Bahru on 18 August 2018 and titled “Can Singapore Do a Malaysia?”
Ms Teo retorted by rehashing PAP’s history, saying 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.”
He also expressed his indignation against Mr Seah’s post which he perceived as a means of “instigating his supporters to attack all of us” [Dr Thum, Ms Han, Mr Wham, Mr Liew, and SDP included].
Ms Teo added that Mr Seah’s agenda was to “deliberately mis-inform the public that I am a SDP member. I am not and he knows that. The PAP has a super spy network.”
He pointed out the verbal abuse he had received online as a result of Mr Seah’s post, with people “baying for blood” and threatening him to leave the country for being “traitorous”.
Ms Teo questioned Mr Seah’s integrity as he posed the following questions:
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?
Ms Teo concluded by urging MP Seah to “remove his post immediately”.
Ms Han was perplexed as to why Mr Teo’s comment was suddenly brought up, considering that he “wasn’t present at the meeting with Mahathir.”
Mr Sonny Liew responded by stating that they were all “taken by surprise to find out that Hisham [Mr Hishamuddin Rais] had sent out a press alert and that there would be an impromptu press conference after the meeting”.
He elaborated that he had only personally “agreed to proceed once we were assured that those of us (Jolovan, Kirsten and myself) who didn’t want to be part of the press conference could choose to do so – which I thought would mean that we would get to meet Dr. Mahatir in a personal, unpoliticised capacity”.
However, Mr Liew viewed the incident as “an important lesson on negotiating public discourse” and expressed his excitement about having met the Malaysian prime minister in an up-close fashion.
Following the backlash from the public, Mr Seah had issued an apology via Facebook yesterday (3 Sep) to SDP for assuming Teo was still with the party but did not clarify nor retract the other allegations made in his earlier FB post.
Wham did not think too highly of his apology. He responded to Mr Seah’s post via a Facebook comment: