Death threat for couple behind petition for public holiday to remember Mr Lee Kuan Yew

A screenshot from the petition, which asked Singaporeans to give their e-mail addresses as well as NRIC and telephone numbers. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM LKYDAY.COM
A screenshot from the petition, which asked Singaporeans to give their e-mail addresses as well as NRIC and telephone numbers. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM LKYDAY.COM
Businessman John Lim (above) and his wife Madam Tan Lay Geok have received a death threat, after rumours circulated that their online petition for an annual public holiday to honour the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a scam. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN  
Businessman John Lim (above) and his wife Madam Tan Lay Geok have received a death threat, after rumours circulated that their online petition for an annual public holiday to honour the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a scam. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN  

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean husband-and-wife team who started an online petition for an annual public holiday to honour the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew have received a death threat, after rumours circulated that the petition was a scam.

Businessman John Lim and his wife, Madam Tan Lay Geok, have made a police report over the death threat, Mr Lim told The Straits Times on Wednesday. A police spokesman confirmed the report and added that it is being looked into.

On Sunday, the couple started two websites - www.lkyday.com and www.1923-2015.org - to collect signatures to petition the Government to declare March 23 a public holiday. Mr Lee had died on March 23 at age 91.

The petition, which asked Singaporeans to give their e-mail addresses as well as NRIC and telephone numbers, had collected more than 1,600 signatures by Tuesday. It also listed the full names of Mr Lim and Madam Tan, as well as an e-mail address at which to reach them.

But on Monday, an e-mail accusing the couple of using the petition as a ruse to collect personal information went viral. The anonymous e-mail noted that the petition is hosted by an overseas website hosting company and outside the jurisdiction of Singapore's Personal Data Protection Act, which acts as a safeguard against the misuse of personal information collected.

On Wednesday morning, Madam Tan received an anonymous death threat via e-mail. The couple decided to make a police report.

The 51-year-old Mr Lim told The Straits Times on Wednesday that he had started the petition with his wife in their personal capacities. He is the president of the Academy of Certified Counsellors and his wife Madam Tan is the principal of the ACC School of Counselling and Psychology. Both are private schools.

On asking for personal data, Mr Lim said that he wanted to make sure that those who sign the petition are Singaporeans and permanent residents. The telephone numbers are required for random checks, he added.

"We have a privacy clause not to use the data for purposes other than the petition, and we will observe the Personal Data Protection Act and other laws on the information we collect," he said.

He added that they used the overseas website hosting company because it was already hosting his private school's website.

"It makes no difference where the website is hosted," he said, adding: "We are Singaporeans and we are based here."

After allegations of the scam surfaced, the overseas company suspended the online petition, but Mr Lim hopes to get the petition back up after the air is cleared. "I am optimistic that we can collect 10,000 signatures and send the petition to the Government," he said.

He does not harbour any ill will against the person who accused him of scamming Singaporeans.

"I choose to believe that the person who sent out the scam warning did so to protect Singaporeans so the intention was a good one," he said, adding: "But I wished he had contacted me first because my name and e-mail address was on the petition."

"I would have cleared the air," he said.

tohyc@sph.com.sg