by Teo Soh Lung
On Tuesday (22 Sept), a few friends and I gathered outside the Clementi Police Station to wait for PJ Thum, founder of New Naratif (NN). He had been summoned there because of the complaints lodged by the Assistant Returning Officer of the Elections Department (ELD). We do not know when the complaints were lodged. The General Election was held on 10 July 2020.
According to the press statement issued by the ELD on 18 September 2020 – more than two months after the General Election – Facebook was ordered to take down five “paid advertisements” during the election period. Those advertisements had cost NN the handsome sum of $341. PJ Thum said that those advertisements were just boosted posts including one video with the sexy voice repeating the word “Discretion”.
But it seems the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is not satisfied with the removal of the five posts by Facebook. Two months after winning a landslide victory, securing 83 of a 93-seat parliament, it is now going after PJ Thum.
Why is the PAP government behaving in such an unreasonable and vindictive manner, using taxpayers’ money to investigate a petty matter. Even if all the “ advertisements” are found by a court of law to amount to unlawful election activities (which prospect is unlikely), does it serve any useful purpose for Singaporeans? The PAP cannot use taxpayers’ money to satisfy their own ego.
Most of us have not even seen or heard of the “advertisements”. I confess that besides the “Discretion” video – which I thought was a clever satire and which appeared before the election period – I have not seen the other four so called advertisements even though I am a subscriber of NN.
The landslide victory of the PAP has already shown that the alleged advertisements of NN did not have any effect on the outcome of the election or even if they had, the effect is miniscule. Why can’t the PMO let matters rest?
I can only arrive at one conclusion. It is this.
It is the unfortunate and sad trait of the PAP. It is steeped in ensuring its own interest and survival, and have no regard for the interest of Singaporeans who want to enjoy some fundamental human rights such as the freedom of expression. It wants to hold on to power at all costs.
As a consequence, it is well known as a bully. The PAP will ensure that people who are capable of seeing the flaws in their policies and who have the courage to speak up and the ability to influence others are put down. This is so sad for Singapore. Why is our government destroying talented Singaporeans?
Seizure of mobile phone and laptop
PJ Thum said that the police seized his mobile phone and laptop after four hours of interrogation. Why do they need to do that? Surely the fact that the “advertisements” were put up by New Naratif and Facebook had removed them on the orders of the Election Department are not denied. Surely the complainant must have taken the precaution of screen-capping and duplicating the video for record purposes.
PJ Thum is not the only person whose electronic devices and handphones have been seized by the police on the complaints lodged by the Election Department. So many of us – Roy Ngerng, Kumaran Pillai, Ravi Philemon, etc. – have had our equipment seized and returned months later in a damaged state and without receiving any compensation.
There is no need to hold on to these electronic devices unless the police want to teach the owners a lesson and show them that they can do anything they want, including damaging these devices. If they wish to proceed with charging the owners in court and need to preserve the exhibits their own practice has shown that it is not necessary.
In the recent appeal of Parti Liyani v PP, we have seen that alleged stolen goods of the family of Liew Mun Leong continued to be used by the family. They were only seized just before the trial.
The Singapore Police Force needs to redeem its image and win the hearts and minds of Singaporeans. Their actions are closely watched. How soon they finish their investigations and return the mobile phone and laptop of PJ Thum in good order will affect our opinion of them.