People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Tan Wu Meng wrote an article condemning Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh for his support toward local playwright Alfian Sa’at.
Dr Tan, who is the MP for Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC), said that Mr Alfian is not a “loving critic” of Singapore and that Mr Singh should read all his previous writings “carefully” before praising the playwright.
The article, which was published on the PAP website on Friday (19 June), highlighted a part of Mr Singh’s speech in Parliament on 5 June.
Mr Singh said, “We should count ourselves fortunate that we have citizens who are the loving critics amongst us, some of whom have been questioned in this very House in this term of government. Members would recall one citizen’s poems were nit-picked with a view to cast wholly negative aspersions on his character, even though that individual was not present in the House to defend himself.”
Although Mr Singh did not name anyone in his speech, but Dr Tan said that “it is clear that he was referring to Alfian Sa’at”.
“There are many Singaporeans who criticise Singapore out of patriotism and genuine care, including opposition leaders like Mr Chiam See Tong and Mr Low Thia Khiang. But Alfian Sa’at is no ‘loving critic’,” the PAP politician said.
In Dr Tan’s opinion piece, he highlighted a number of Mr Alfian previous remarks made on Facebook, some going back as far as 2011, which he said clearly illustrated the poet’s disdain for Singapore.
The first one he mentioned was about the water issues between Singapore and Malaysia in 2018, when Dr Mahathir Mohamed was Malaysia’s Prime Minister.
“For nearly a decade, Alfian has consistently praised Malaysia to illustrate his disdain for Singapore. In 2018, Malaysia, (when Dr Mahathir was PM) was sending vessels into our waters. There were serious issues between the two countries on airspace as well. Singaporeans rallied together. Mr Low Thia Kiang spoke in Parliament, as a patriot would,” the PAP MP said.
He added, “And Alfian? He mocked the approach taken by Singapore as “jingoism” (even as Malaysian government vessels were anchored in our waters) and that it meant to scare its own people of “barbarians” up north when there are none anymore, and that the Malaysians may in fact be Singapore’s solution.”
If that’s not all, Dr Tan, who is also the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, as well as Trade and Industry, pointed out another instance in 2013 where the playwright penned his support toward Dr Mahathir, and “wished Singapore can be more like Malaysia”.
“Alfian’s view is that Dr Mahathir’s style of democracy, and Malaysian style governance, should be brought to Singapore. Contrast this with what Alfian wrote about Mr Lee Kuan Yew, on the eve of our 2012 National Day,” Dr Tan wrote.
He continued, “And when Mr Lee Kuan Yew died, Alfian attacked Mr Lee’s legacy and contributions to Singapore, barely 2 days later.”
The PAP MP also stated that the poet likes the Malaysian Bumiputera policies, and that he said the “Singaporean Chinese are being selfish, in not wanting merger with Malaysia”.
He also went on to say that Mr Alfian’s loyalty lies in Malaysia, and that the playwright even said in an interview with TODAY that he “would love to become a Malaysian”.
“This man grew up in Singapore. Singapore gave him his education and he earns a living here. An education and a living that is denied to many minorities in the region. And he constantly runs down Singapore, and says he would love to become a Malaysian, and that there is nothing wrong in accepting the Bumiputera policies here. And takes Malaysia’s side, when there are tensions between Malaysia and Singapore,” Dr Tan explained.
As such, the PAP MP suggested Mr Singh to read all the playwright’s remarks carefully before calling him a ‘loving critic’ of the country.
“Mr Singh may not have read all these things that Alfian has said. I suggest he read them carefully, and then tell us if he still thinks Alfian is a ‘loving critic’ of Singapore.
“If he does, perhaps Mr Singh himself a ‘loving critic’ of Singapore too?” he asked.
Mr Singh responds
Sharing Dr Tan’s article on Facebook, Mr Singh simply replied: “A loving critic. A son of Singapore. Not perfect. As imperfect as you and me Dr Tan, maybe more, maybe less”.