SINGAPORE - Three activists have urged Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to look into the "highly irresponsible" conduct of MP Seah Kian Peng and Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, who had criticised the three over their recent meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Historian Thum Ping Tjin, journalist Kirsten Han and activist Jolovan Wham made the call in a letter addressed to PM Lee, who is secretary-general of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP). A largely similar letter was also addressed to Mr Charles Chong, who is chairman of the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods.
"Pingtjin Thum, Jolovan Wham and I have sent letters of complaint to both Charles Chong, chairman of the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods, and Lee Hsien Loong, Secretary-General of the People's Action Party, about Seah Kian Peng's allegations, which are unbecoming of a PAP MP and a member of the Select Committee," Ms Han posted on Facebook on Wednesday (Sept 5). She also released to the media copies of the letters they had sent.
In the letter to PM Lee, the three said: "As the leader of the People's Action Party, we urge you to look into this issue, and take leadership in promoting responsible behaviour among members of your party."
The three met Tun Dr Mahathir last Thursday in Putrajaya, along with former student union leader Tan Wah Piow, graphic novelist Sonny Liew and Malaysian social activist Hishamuddin Rais.
They came under fire from some netizens after Mr Seah, who is an MP for Marine Parade GRC, wrote in a Facebook post last Saturday that Dr Thum had invited the Malaysian premier to bring democracy to Singapore, and that "it appears quite clear to me that PJ Thum does not wish Singapore well".
In the same Facebook post, he also criticised Dr Thum for suggesting that Singaporeans should rejoice on Malaysia's national day, since it was Singapore's "unofficial independence day".
The activists, in the letter to PM Lee, said: "There was no reference to bringing democracy to Singapore, nor any request to interfere in Singapore's affairs. Mr Seah has not provided any other substantiation for his claims."
They added: "It is a huge stretch to suggest that wishing Singaporeans a 'happy unofficial independence day' is tantamount to expressing an opinion that Singapore is a part of Malaysia today."
Mr Seah's comments have had the effect of inciting accusations of treason, they claimed, adding that there have been calls for their arrests, detention, and even deaths.
They said the allegations were further amplified by the PAP's official Facebook page, which shared Mr Seah's post, and by Mr Shanmugam, who weighed in on the issue.
"It is highly irresponsible for Mr Seah and Mr Shanmugam - members of the People's Action Party in positions of power - to be making public allegations without adequate substantiation or evidence," they said.
In their letter to Mr Chong, they pointed out that it is ironic that Mr Seah and Mr Shanmugam, both members of the Select Committee on deliberate online falsehoods, "are themselves making public allegations without adequate substantiation or evidence".
They added: "This episode also emphasises points previously made that any solution or penalty we ultimately adopt to counter online falsehoods should also apply to the government, as states themselves can be a source of misinformation and disinformation."