Select Committee on fake news: Thum Ping Tjin 'completely disagrees' that he lied about academic credentials

Historian Thum Ping Tjin had written to the Select Committee when it sought public views earlier this year on the issue of deliberate online falsehoods. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Historian Thum Ping Tjin has issued a reply after the Select Committee tasked to study fake news said on Thursday (Sept 20) that he lied about his academic credentials.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Dr Thum said: "I completely disagree with the Report of the Select Committee's allegation that I 'clearly lied' and misrepresented my academic credentials."

He added that he would respond more fully "in due course".

On Thursday, the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods gave three reasons in its report on why it did not find Dr Thum to be credible and gave no weight to his views: Dr Thum lied about his academic credentials, admitted that his research on historical events surrounding the 1963 Operation Coldstore was flawed, and failed to follow up with documents he said he would send to the committee after the hearings.

In an addendum to its report, the committee said Dr Thum had referred to himself as a research fellow in history at Oxford University. He, however, never was a research fellow in history at Oxford, said the committee.

It also said Oxford confirmed he was never an employee of the university, but was a visiting fellow with the Fertility and Reproduction Studies Group in the School of Anthropology.

Dr Thum had written to the Select Committee when it sought public views earlier this year on the issue of deliberate online falsehoods.

He argued in his submission that the People's Action Party had used fake news during the 1963 operation, where over 100 leftist politicians and unionists were arrested and detained.

Accompanying Dr Thum's Saturday post were several links, including one to an April statement by the trustees of Oxford University's Project Southeast Asia.

The statement attested to his academic credentials, and also expressed concern "in the strongest possible terms" with regard to the treatment of Dr Thum at the hearings of the Select Committee.

In May, The Straits Times reported that a letter to the committee from a group of Oxford academics had said that Dr Thum "is and remains an academically trained historian", citing his PhD in History from the university.

The 10-member committee, chaired by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Charles Chong, was appointed in January to examine the phenomenon of deliberate online falsehoods and study what measures Singapore should take to prevent and combat the problem.

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