Thum's actions appear to have backfired

As a layman reading the debate over historian Thum Ping Tjin's meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, I cannot help but notice one glaring detail - Dr Thum was virtually unknown among Singaporeans before the public hearing by the Select Committee on fake news (MHA responds to activists' letter of complaint to PM; Sept 6).

The fact that he delights in starring in eyebrow-raising controversies, whether during the public hearing or his recent visit to Malaysia, shows that the whole episode was a deliberate act to draw publicity and attention so as to portray himself as a victim rather than a villain.

However, his dubious gesture of inviting Tun Dr Mahathir, a controversial figure himself who is critical of Singapore, to "bring democracy to the region" may have backfired and appears to have caused great consternation on the ground.

By implying that Singapore is less than democratic, he has inadvertently cast aspersions on the intelligence of the majority of Singaporeans who exercise their voting rights at the ballot box at every election.

We may have our grievances, but Singaporeans are educated enough to separate the wheat from the chaff and understand the lines that should never be crossed. This circus act has only served to galvanise Singaporeans and allow them to sieve the fake from the truth.

Seah Yam Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2018, with the headline 'Thum's actions appear to have backfired'. Print Edition | Subscribe