Singapore’s Minister of Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam is “really helping” the Hong Kong police “do their job” by alleging the [international] media of “one-sided portrayal” of protests in Hong Kong, said Washington Post’s Southeast Asia and Hong Kong bureau chief Shibani Mahtani.
In her thread, Ms Mahtani summarised Mr Shanmugam’s comments as “protests are bad, should continue to be banned, good governance will keep people happy, carrot + stick approach”.
She pointed out that no reference was made to Hong Kong’s district council elections in Mr Shanmugam’s remarks — which overwhelmingly favoured pro-democratic politicians — or the approval ratings gained by the city’s Beijing-backed chief executive Carrie Lam.
During the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament yesterday, Mr Shanmugam used the events in Hong Kong as an example to talk about public security.
“Some of them have engaged in extremely violent, disruptive behaviour, with the whole purpose of crippling the government, and inflicted severe damage to the economy, and to the reputation of the city,” adding that the protests obviously caused very severe challenges for the Hong Kong police force.
He then praised the Hong Kong police force as one of the finest in Asia and as being highly regarded in the region along with the Singapore Police Force.
Mr Shanmugam claimed that the Hong Kong police were caught between the need to uphold public order when the protests broke out and fending off “protestors who resorted to increasingly violent tactics just to attack the police and instigate them”.
“That has, I would say, severely damaged the relationship between the police and the public,” he said.
Mr Shanmugam then went on to attack the media, saying:
This is not helped by the one-sided portrayal of the situation in the media, in particular the international media, which often focused on criticising only the police force. The demonstrators were always titled pro-democracy protestors, while the police always were mentioned with reference to their brutality, and their brutal response. The first time a police officer fired a live round, the media depicted the incident as an example of police brutality, and the picture went around the world. But, all the events leading up to that point were ignored. Protestors, as I said, were often portrayed in a positive light. That the police were being attacked, their lives were frequently in danger, their families were being exposed — all that was ignored.
Hong Kong netizens criticise Singapore as authoritarian
Replies to Ms Mahtani’s tweet — mostly from Hong Kongers — mostly pointed out that they were not surprised by Mr Shanmugam’s take on the issue given that Singapore is also an “authoritarian regime”.
An American netizen named Chelsea pointed out that all protests against governments are wrong in the view of authoritarian regimes.
Netizen ElTeee claimed that Singapore is afraid of its citizens questioning the ruling party.
A couple of other Hong Kongers said that Mr Shanmugam’s comments were unsurprising, as Singapore is looking to claim the title of “Asia’s Financial Hub” from Hong Kong.
A few other netizens pointed out that Mr Shanmugam’s remarks ignored why Hong Kongers took to the streets in the first place.
Ms Mahtani, in a reply to a netizen, also questioned Mr Shanmugam’s narrative as being one-sided as well.
A Singaporean netizen, however, supported Mr Shanmugam’s comments, and stressed that Singapore is a “democracy”, not an authoritarian society as some Singaporeans might believe.