Activists want MP Seah Kian Peng to retract statement over Mahathir meeting

MP Seah Kian Peng. (File photo: Wong Casandra/Yahoo Singapore)

This story was updated at 12.15pm on Monday (3 September) to reflect Seah Kian Peng’s comments in his subsequent Facebook post.

A group of Singapore civil activists have called on PAP Member of Parliament (MP) Seah Kian Peng to retract a Facebook post, put up on Saturday (1 September), in which Seah allegedly made “misleading” statements about a number of Singaporeans and the Singapore Democratic Party.

In its post on the Community Action Network, Singapore website, the group, which apparently includes Alfian Sa’at, Roy Ngerng, Martyn See, Constance Singam and Terry Xu, also called for Seah to issue an apology.

In his post referring to Singaporean historian Thum Ping Tjin’s 30 August meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Seah said “Dr Thum invited Dr Mahathir to bring democracy to Singapore”.

Seah’s claim appeared to be a wide departure from Thum’s own post on meeting with Mahathir, in which Thum said, “I met with Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir today. I urged him to take leadership in Southeast Asia for the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, and freedom of information.”

An image of Thum’s post was also shared by Seah. The Marine Parade GRC MP also referred to an unrelated Facebook comment made by former political detainee Teo Soh Lung – in which the latter said “Singapore is a part of Malaya la” – and lumped that in with Thum’s separate post.

‘Inflammatory and dangerous’

In calling for Seah’s retraction, activists said that despite reminders from “concerned citizens”, Seah had not amended nor removed his post. They pointed out that the comments to his post were becoming increasingly “inflammatory and dangerous”.

The activists calling for Seah’s apology pointed out that “(nothing) in Dr Thum’s post suggests that he’d invited Dr Mahathir to ‘bring democracy to Singapore'”.

They were also “deeply disappointed that an elected official and member of the Select Committee on Online Falsehoods is himself propagating misinformation”.

Even if Seah harboured no malicious intent, it was “clear” that he has “trouble discerning facts from falsehoods” and should “resign, apologise and retract his post immediately”, said the group.

On Monday, Thum took to Facebook to respond to the controversy, stating that “(any) notion that I am a traitor to my country is ridiculous and unfounded.

“Malaysia is now a beacon of hope for democracy in Southeast Asia, and I expressed to Dr Mahathir the hope that many of us feel,” he added.

Thum also reiterated that he did not want Singapore “to do a Malaysia” – referring the Pakatan Harapan coalition’s surprise victory in the recent Malaysian general election – but rather that “I want Singapore to do a Singapore”.

“The solution to many of Singapore’s problems lie with Singaporeans. But that does not preclude us from learning from others’ experiences to make our country better,” said Thum.

Seah responds

In a Facebook post on Monday, Seah called for those commenting on his initial post to remain civil in their discourse.

“It is regretful that I see all kinds of abusive remarks that are made by many different individuals (and trolls) against each other. I do not support such types of comments, regardless of what views or positions they take,” he wrote.

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