Civil activists Rachel Zeng and Sangeetha Thanapal have written a letter of solidarity to express their stance on the current affairs revolving Workers’ Party (WP) Raeesah Khan.
In the letter titled “Solidarity with Raeesah Khan”, both activists would like to offer evidence that could support Ms Khan on her statement.
The Workers’ Party candidate who is contesting at Sengkang GRC for the upcoming General Election (GE) is currently being investigated for making comments that suggested how Singapore law enforcement authorities discriminate against citizens based on race.
The activists stated that the timing of this investigation may suggest the possibility of “gutter politics”. They pointed out that the two comments that led Ms Khan to be penalised had been public for over two years without issues being raised before this period of time.
They believed that this move alone would be enough to question the motive behind the investigation.
Therefore, in Ms Khan’s defence, Ms Zeng and Ms Thanapal first focused on the WP candidate’s comment that was made in February 2018 on the disparity in the treatment of law between the leaders of City Harvest Church and a man who stole from a mosque.
It was revealed that the head pastor of the Church, Kong Hee, was sentenced to 3.5 years of jail for embezzling S$50 million, while the man who stole S$1,900 from the mosque was sentenced to 4.5 years of jail.
The letter of solidarity intended to point out the difference in punishment meted out in the two cases, explaining that Ms Khan actually wanted to highlight how the justice system operates differently for certain people.
“It seems entirely justified to question the leniency given to rich church leaders who seem to operate with impunity in a country that is supposed to have a strict separation of religion and state.”
“Ms Khan’s original point, which was to draw attention to the stark difference in the way the justice system operates for certain people, seems to be proven when looking at the contrast between the sentences handed down for these two cases.”
Ms Zeng and Ms Thanapal then moved forward to focus on Ms Khan’s second comment that was made on 17 May 2020 during the circuit breaker period.
Ms Khan expressed the stark difference in police presence between a neighbourhood of mainly “rich Chinese or white people”, and a neighbourhood hawker centre. Noting how police would be swarming the hawker centre area and “enforcing the law within minutes”, it highlights the hypocrisy in the treatment of local Singaporeans and foreign workers (eg. white expatriates).
“Her comment is in line with many Singaporeans who were irate at the double standards between the treatment of people (especially white expatriates) who were breaking distancing rules, versus Singaporeans who are heavily penalized for doing the same.”
“In this comment, she is agreeing with many Singaporeans who have expressed such sentiments themselves. It seems ludicrous that she is being investigated for it.”
The letter of solidarity defended Ms Khan by stating that the WP candidate has a clear record of service for minority communities in Singapore. The activists also brought up the fact that Ms Khan is not the first to be investigated for pointing out the “existence of institutional discrimination” in the country.
They believed that by labelling her as a “racist” as she is running for the GE is “an act of defamation”.
Apart from Ms Khan’s case, this letter had taken up the chance to focus on police force against minority Singaporeans as well as others that were deemed a threat to state power. Ms Khan’s case is one of the many that reminds Singaporeans of a deeper issue in the justice system.
“Instead of placing individuals like Ms Khan under police investigation for speaking up, it is time to thoroughly review the system and make changes that will weed out such forms of systemic discrimination.”
This letter also stood for the people in the Malay and Indian communities who had been impacted by racial and religious discrimination.
Ms Zeng and Ms Thanapal urged Singaporeans to stand in solidarity with Ms Khan by signing their letter here.