MP Seah Kian Peng calls historian Thum Ping Tjin out for his comments after Mahathir meeting

Dr Thum Ping Tjin met Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya on Aug 30, 2018.
Dr Thum Ping Tjin met Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya on Aug 30, 2018.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/PINGTJIN THUM

MP Seah Kian Peng criticised historian Thum Ping Tjin yesterday, writing in a Facebook post that he is "amazed Dr Thum and his supporters should proclaim that Singapore is part of Malaysia (or Malaya)".

Mr Seah's post came after Dr Thum, freelance journalist Kirsten Han, comic artist Sonny Liew and activist Jolovan Wham met Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last Thursday.

Mr Seah noted that they had "invited Dr Mahathir to bring democracy to Singapore, and suggest that Singapore is part of Malaya".

"I wonder what deep historical insight prompted him to make this plea, to Dr M, whose views on the Water Agreement with Singapore, and Singapore knowing its place in relation to Malaysia are well known," wrote Mr Seah, who is MP for Marine Parade GRC.

The group that met Tun Dr Mahathir at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya included Malaysian political and social activist Hishamuddin Rais, and former student union leader Tan Wah Piow, who fled Singapore in 1976 after failing to report for national service enlistment and was stripped of his citizenship in 1987.

Dr Thum posted on Facebook about his meeting, saying he had asked the Malaysian leader to "take leadership in South-east Asia for the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of information".

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I wonder what deep historical insight prompted him to make this plea, to Dr M, whose views on the Water Agreement with Singapore, and Singapore knowing its place in relation to Malaysia are well known.

MR SEAH KIAN PENG (above), in a Facebook post, on historian Thum Ping Tjin, who asked Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to "take leadership in South-east Asia for the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of information".

The group also invited Dr Mahathir to open a conference next year on the issue of opening up democratic space in South-east Asian countries, and presented him with a document titled the Peoples' Charter For South-east Asia.

Mr Seah then pointed out that Dr Thum had posted an unusual greeting on Facebook the day after the meeting with Dr Mahathir.

"On August 31, Malaysia's national day, he posted an unusual greeting, 'Selamat Hari Merdeka to the people of the former Federation of Malaya', and suggested that Singaporeans should also rejoice on that day since it was Singapore's 'unofficial independence day'."

Mr Seah also noted that Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) member Teo Soh Lung had written in a comment on a video on The Online Citizen's Facebook page: "Singapore is part of Malaya la".

Mr Seah wrote: "Really? This is what PJ Thum and Teo Soh Lung and the SDP believe in their heart of hearts?" He added: "I'm amazed Dr Thum and his supporters should proclaim that Singapore is part of Malaysia (or Malaya). Perhaps that is why he thinks it is permissible to ask its current prime minister to interfere in our affairs. It appears quite clear to me that PJ Thum does not wish Singapore well."

The Sunday Times has reached out to the SDP for comment.

Mr Seah also wrote that Singapore's Constitution requires any change to the sovereignty of the Republic to be approved by two-thirds of all voters in a referendum.

He noted that when moving this constitutional amendment in Parliament, Singapore's first Minister for Law and the author of the Separation Agreement, Mr E.W. Barker, said that "in the methodology of the destruction of a nation by its foes, war by force of arms is not necessarily the only means employed. The independence of a nation may, by more subtle means, be subverted".

Mr Seah also quoted Mr Barker as saying: "The seductive blandishments of foreign agents must not be allowed to succeed."

"Quite right and I am sure Singaporeans will agree with that," Mr Seah added.

In a blog post last night, Ms Han said she was shocked by Mr Seah's post, adding that he appears to have misunderstood the nature of the meeting with Dr Mahathir.

"PJ did not say that he asked Mahathir to bring democracy to Singapore, nor did I hear him say such a thing during the meeting," she wrote. She also said that the historian's "happy unofficial independence day" wish was "merely a reference to our own history", signifying the end of colonial British rule in Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 02, 2018, with the headline 'MP calls historian out for his comments after Mahathir meeting'. Print Edition | Subscribe