Shanmugam takes aim at sociopolitical site's article

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam has hit out at "outright falsehoods" in an article about the elected presidency on a sociopolitical website.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam has hit out at "outright falsehoods" in an article about the elected presidency on a sociopolitical website. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

He plans to file police report over 'outright falsehoods' in article on elected presidency

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam has hit out at "outright falsehoods" in an article about the elected presidency on a sociopolitical website and said he intends to make a police report.

The anonymous article posted on the States Times Review website last Friday made allegations with the "potential to create friction among the races", he said at Sri Mariamman Temple last Saturday, on the sidelines of preparations for the annual fire-walking festival.

Titled "Law Minister K Shanmugam: Eurasian Singaporeans are Indians", the article claimed that Mr Shanmugam "told a Eurasian Singaporean representative that Eurasians are considered Indian under the Presidential candidacy law".

This allegedly took place at an Institute of Policy Studies forum on the elected presidency last Friday.

The article claimed that Mr Shanmugam said "Indians outnumbered Eurasians 20 to 1. So it makes it difficult for (there to be) an Eurasian president".

He was said to have made the remark "when the President of the Eurasian Association of Singapore, (Mr) Benett Theseira, criticised the definition of Eurasian in the candidacy regulations".

PROTECTING INTEGRITY OF SYSTEM

It is the integrity that we ought to protect and we shouldn't allow people to throw stones at that and create friction among the races.

HOME AFFAIRS AND LAW MINISTER K. SHANMUGAM

The article, which has been viewed more than 25,000 times, appeared to have been amended when viewed yesterday. It wrote instead that "a Eurasian Singaporean representative complained that Eurasians are considered Indian under the Presidential candidacy law".

In a Facebook post last Saturday night, Mr Shanmugam said he was shocked by the article. "All of this is completely false. During my session which lasted 90 minutes, I said nothing of the sort attributed to me, about Eurasians," he said.

A post on government website Factually said it was "malicious" of the States Times Review to have spread "vicious falsehoods, calculated to sow discord among our different ethnic groups". It added that the Government will review the post and decide whether to take further action against the site.

"At a personal level, I don't need to file a police complaint," Mr Shanmugam said at the temple last Saturday. "The reason I decided that I should take this seriously is because it is a system... It is the integrity that we ought to protect and we shouldn't allow people to throw stones at that and create friction among the races."

He added: "There was no question, no discussion on Eurasians, at least in my session."

While the perpetrator is overseas, said Mr Shanmugam, he has helpers here and a police report serves as a "marker" for conduct.

"We need a clean system where we discuss ideas, where we set out the truth. Otherwise, there is no difference between our society and other societies where all sorts of lies go for public discourse," said the minister.

The Straits Times understands that no police report had been lodged as of last night.

Following Mr Shanmugam's Facebook post and news reports, the States Times Review made other posts claiming the minister has lodged a police report "over criticism". It alleged that Mr Shanmugam was looking for a "scapegoat to cover up his embarrassment".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2016, with the headline 'Shanmugam takes aim at sociopolitical site's article'. Print Edition | Subscribe