PAP’s Shamsul Kamar says his intention was “misunderstood”; but his comment and FAP’s selective deletion of comments make that questionable

Following backlash from sharing a post by pro-People’s Action Party (PAP) page Fabrications about the PAP (FAP), implying that Ms Sarah Bagharib is a member of the Workers’ Party (WP) and has an underlying political agenda, PAP politician Shamsul Kamar said that many have “misunderstood” his key intentions.

Ms Sarah, a communication specialist, was pulled into the spotlight when her wedding photo was used without permission as a prop in the People’s Association (PA)’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri display at an HDB estate in Tiong Bahru. The PA had removed the standee, and offered a public apology after Ms Sarah brought up the issue on social media.

However, the organisation later rejected her “accusations” of racism, branding the incident as “culturally insensitive” instead and an “isolated case”.

The post that Mr Shamsul shared was original posted by FAP on Thursday (17 Jun). It includes a photo of Ms Sarah next to one of the same photo with a face mask added to it. Below are two photos of three people in WP shirts and masks, implying that Ms Sarah is the same person in the WP photos.

The caption of his post read: “For all to decide… Everything happens for a reason but let’s not be divisive”.

Mr Shamsul is currently the adviser to Aljunied GRC grassroots organizations and also the Vice-Chairman for Northeast Community Development Council (CDC).

It has been confirmed by Ms Sarah and the other lady in the bottom photo that they are not the same person.

In a clarification to Mothership.sg on Friday (18 Jun), Mr Shamsul said, “I’m sorry that it seems many misunderstood my key intention of sending the message to everyone that we need to stand united rather than divisive especially during this period of the pandemic.

“If you read my posts especially on my public page, this has been a consistent message I have been advocating to let’s fight this pandemic together.

“That’s what the shared post was about.”

However, his clarification leaves more questions than answers because the incident involving Ms Sarah has nothing to do with the pandemic. And the post from FAP was insinuating that Ms Sarah is a WP volunteer, barring the fact that the alleged person in the picture is not Ms Sarah.

Given that Mr Shamsul represents the PA in his official capacity, it would be more likely that his comment on the FAP post is a hit on Ms Sarah over her remarks in response to the PA’s actions.

Furthermore, FAP appeared to have deleted any comments in support of or defending Ms Sarah, leaving only those that slander and vilify her. Looking at the post, it seems that the comments have been curated to be divisive against Ms Sarah.

In fact, one commenter on Mr Shamsul’s original post, which has since been removed, confirmed that her initial screenshots and comments proving that the two women in the photos are not the same person were deleted by FAP.

FAP has found itself in the spotlight before when it was removed by Facebook for violating the platform’s policies back in June 2020 during the General Election.

The FAP page – which was then run by Chua Chin Seng – garnered over 250,000 likes and is widely known as being pro-PAP and populated by hardcore pro-PAP internet trolls.

Back in 2017, Mr Chua was issued a warning by the police for breaching the Cooling-Off Day rules during the Bukit Batok by-election in 2016.

After the page was taken down in 2020, a spokesperson from Facebook said that it has taken action against several accounts in Singapore for violating its policies.

“These accounts were discovered during our on-going proactive work to find and take action against accounts that violate our policies. This action is based on the behaviour of these accounts, not based on the content they posted,” the spokesperson added.

The current FAP page was newly created under the name ‘Fabrication about the PAP 2020’ on 29 June 2020, just a few days after it was taken down.

On 17 June 2021, the name was shortened to just ‘Fabrications about the PAP’.

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