SINGAPORE - Opposition politician Brad Bowyer resigned from the Progress Singapore Party on Wednesday (Aug 11), following sustained backlash over controversial social media posts questioning Covid-19 vaccination measures.
The most recent of these posts compared differentiated pandemic restrictions for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals to the Holocaust - the genocide of six million Jews by Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.
Mr Bowyer, who contested the 2020 General Election as part of the PSP's losing team in Nee Soon GRC, wrote on Facebook that he made the call in recognition that his views were "diverging from the party's positions".
He confirmed to The Straits Times that he had resigned of his own accord, adding: "Being so vocal on this takes me out of full alignment with the party, and I am not going to let anyone derail PSP while I fight my own battles."
Mr Bowyer also stood by his use of Holocaust imagery to claim that Singapore was now divided - by Covid-19 regulations - into "us and them", telling ST: "Sometimes a shocking image is needed to wake people up."
The uproar over Mr Bowyer's posts had also been accompanied by calls for the PSP to clarify its stance on its member.
Some accused the party, founded by former ruling party parliamentarian Tan Cheng Bock, of implicitly endorsing his views.
Secretary-general Francis Yuen told ST that the party was "clearly not anti-vaccine", that it had different views from Mr Bowyer, and that it "does not subscribe at all" to his latest post drawing parallels with the Holocaust.
"The party doesn't believe in silencing members. We did not make statements (earlier) because we did not want to be part of the controversies that he has created, and the views that he made in his own private capacity, which every Singaporean is entitled to," said Mr Yuen.
"It's not fair to interpret whatever he says as representing the party, but we understand that people will read it that way."
Mr Bowyer's departure from the party comes after weeks of criticism from sociopolitical pages and commentators over several posts he had made casting doubt on Covid-19 measures.
He had been airing such views since last year, when a public spat with then party mate Kala Manickam erupted in December over Mr Bowyer disputing the need to wear masks, practise safe distancing and get vaccinated.
In November 2019, Mr Bowyer was also on the receiving end of Singapore's fake news law being invoked for the first time.
He had falsely implied that the Government controls Temasek and GIC's commercial decisions.
On Wednesday, Mr Bowyer said on Facebook that his "resolve to stand for what I believe is right" had been strengthened.
"I have watched over the last few weeks as cowardly commentators have been screaming and shouting for my blood while attacking the party I belong to because they don't like the questions I am asking or the thoughts that I am sharing, and they are clearly afraid of us both," he said.
"I have no time for the cancel culture (sic)."
He then warned that his resignation from the PSP was but a "pyrrhic" victory for his detractors, as he was no longer encumbered by the restraints of party membership "and the gloves can now fully come off".