Shanmugam welcomes Pritam's stance, asks if he believes Alfian's views still merit support

Mr K. Shanmugam (left) noted that Mr Pritam Singh "admits now that he hadn't examined these statements before declaring Mr Sa'at a 'loving critic'".
Mr K. Shanmugam (left) noted that Mr Pritam Singh "admits now that he hadn't examined these statements before declaring Mr Sa'at a 'loving critic'".PHOTOS: ST FILE

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday he is glad that Workers' Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh has reaffirmed the opposition party's commitment to Singapore's sovereignty.

In a Facebook post, he said: "I am glad that Mr Pritam Singh has said that the WP under him will continue to stand squarely with the Government when it comes to foreign relations.

"This continues the stance that (former WP chief) Mr Low Thia Khiang took."

But the minister also said he "looks forward to" Mr Singh's response on whether the Aljunied GRC MP still believes that poet and playwright Alfian Sa'at's views on Malaysia and Singapore merit his support.

He noted that Mr Singh "admits now that he hadn't examined these statements before declaring Mr Sa'at a 'loving critic' and admonishing the Government for not heeding Mr Sa'at's wisdom".

Mr Shanmugam's post is the latest in an exchange that began when Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng criticised Mr Singh in an article published last Friday on the People's Action Party website, for speaking in support of Mr Alfian during the Fortitude Budget debate earlier this month.

Dr Tan had cited several of Mr Alfian's Facebook posts, which he said indicated the playwright's preference for Malaysia over Singapore.

Mr Shanmugam on Sunday said Dr Tan had asked a "legitimate question" about whether Mr Singh, who is leader of the opposition, was aware of these posts previously.

Responding in a Facebook post on Sunday night, Mr Singh said there can be no doubt where the WP has stood and continues to stand - with Singapore. He added that he appreciates the diverse views of theatre practitioners, as these develop a thinking population.

"Singaporeans like Mr Alfian Sa'at do not deserve to be admonished in Parliament on the basis of a selective reading of their works," he said.

"However, should any Singaporean consistently establish that he or she rejects Singapore or our Constitution or runs Singapore down with a political agenda overseas, neither I, nor the WP, will stand for such conduct."

 
 

Calling on the WP chief to make his views on Mr Sa'at's position clear, Mr Shanmugam added: "He need not rush to examine those statements... but I hope to hear his views on them in good time.

"And let me make clear - this is not about artistic freedom or licence, those are not being questioned. This is specifically about Mr Singh asking the Government to listen to a specific individual."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2020, with the headline 'Shanmugam welcomes Pritam's stance, asks if he believes Alfian's views still merit support'. Print Edition | Subscribe