Singaporean playwright Alfian Saát has again been accused by the People & # 39; s Action Party (PAP) of being a "pro-Malaysian activist".
On June 19, Jurong GRC MP Dr. Tan Wu Meng published an article entitled "Mr. Pritam Singh supports Alfian Saát" and published it on the PAP website and on the Facebook page.
The Facebook post has since gone viral and sparked controversy online. Since then he has been raised in parliament and statements have been made by high-profile people.
Alfian Sa & # 39; at is Parliament's most popular debate topic
The aspects of Mr. Sa & # 39; at's national loyalty reflect the statements made by the then Education Minister Ong Ye Kung in 2019.
When answering questions related to the cancellation of a course on "Dialogue and Dissent in Singapore" given by Mr. Saát at Yale-National University of Singapore (NUS), Mr. Ong cited Mr. Sa & # 39's work ; at in parliament.
The minister read selected lines from Mr. Saat's 1998 poem entitled "Singapore, You Are Not My Country" and accused him of continuing the critical "stance in the poem consistently in his activism".
Since a critical stance towards mainstream politics fits perfectly with activism and a course on “dialogue and dissent”, one wonders why Mr. Ong is so against Mr. Sa & # 39; at.
Photo credit: MOE Singapore
Mr. Ong provided examples of how Mr. Sa & # 39; at conversely supported Malaysian politics, further questioning his national loyalties.
The move triggered a backlash online. Experienced diplomat Tommy Koh wrote in a Facebook post: "We should not demonize Alfian Sa & # 39; at. I consider him a loving critic of Singapore." He is not against Singapore. "
"Freedom of expression means the right to agree with the government and the right not to agree," he added.
How Alfian Sa & # 39; at was used as a political deputy
On June 5, Labor Party opposition leader Pritam Singh referred to the 2019 incident during the debate on the Fortitude budget in parliament.
"We should consider ourselves lucky … We have citizens who love critics," he said.
Mr. Singh also asked members of the house to remember how "a citizen's poems were not chosen to completely negate his character, even though that person was not present to defend himself".
In response to Mr. Singh's revival of the PAP attack on Alfian Sa & # 39; at in 2019, Dr. Tan said that Mr. Sa & # 39; at is a pro-Malaysian activist and not a "loving critic" of Singapore.
According to Dr. Tan "has consistently praised Alfian Malaysia to demonstrate his contempt for Singapore," and his preferences are "obvious."
Dr. Tan asks Mr. Singh to read Mr. Sa & # 39; at's work and questions if he really believes Alfian is a "loving critic" of Singapore. If so, Mr. Singh may see himself as a "loving critic" of Singapore, he challenged.
Dr. Tan bravely questions Mr. Singh's national loyalty by using Alfian's "dubious credentials" as a proxy.
Photo credit: mother ship
Thanks to the Facebook article claiming Alfian Sa & # 39; at was not loyal to his country, Alfian Sa & # 39; at was once again a civilian between the political struggles of two far more powerful organizations.
The PAP's decision to systematically assassinate an apolitical civilian could be seen as a massive abuse of authority.
If bullying is defined as intimidating or harming a more vulnerable person, attempting an assassination attempt on a civilian is just the thing – especially one that was not directly involved in parliament.
How Dr. distinguishes Tan between loving critics and pro-Malaysian activists – he sees opposition leaders like Chiam See Tong from the Singapore Democratic Party and WP Low Thia Khang as "loving critics".
In his words, they spoke "in parliament as a patriot would".
This raises the following questions: Does this mean that the millions of Singaporeans who are not politicians are not patriots? Is someone outside of parliament criticizing a pro-malaysian activist?
Resolve PAP's allegations
The article used a selection of Mr. Sa & # 39; at's literary works and Facebook posts from 2011 to 2018 as evidence.
These include Mr. Saát's perspectives on Johor's maritime and airspace dispute in 2018, criticism of Lee Kuan Yew and thoughts on the Speak Mandarin campaign.
Dr. Tan claims that the playwright supports adoption of Malaysian Bumiputera policies, Malaysian-style governance, and Mahathir-style democracy in Singapore.
Mr. Sa & # 39; at is also said to agree to a merger between Singapore and Malaysia.
However, Mr. Sa & # 39; at's writings do not explicitly state his support for the guidelines, and the majority of the evidence gathered from his Facebook page does not logically support any of Dr.'s claims. Tan.
If Mr. Sa & # 39; at prefers to migrate to Malaysia, it is hardly illegal or unethical. Many Singaporeans emigrated overseas, be it to the UK, Australia or New Zealand.
Still, it was quite a logical leap until Dr. Tan came to this conclusion.
Photo credit: wild rice
Another strange interpretation is that Mr. Sa & # 39; at Bumiputera wants to import guidelines to Singapore and considers Singaporean Chinese to be selfish.
He quotes a friend who explains that Chinese Singaporeans support meritocracy because it works to their advantage in Singapore. "At the end of the day, self-interest rules," he said.
Nowhere in this quote does Mr. Sa & # 39; at explain his support for the import of Bumiputera guidelines into Singapore. He only criticizes the reasons why Singapore and China support meritocratic systems in Singapore, which he sees as self-serving.
Another logical leap.
Finally, the criticism of Lee Kuan Yew in Mr. Sa & # 39; at's writings makes it clear how the late high-ranking minister was treated with almost mythical status and dedication.
Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew are two separate entities. Criticism of the latter does not require infidelity to the former.
Dr. Tan's article is full of loopholes, which unfortunately cannot be fully covered in a single section.
Ultimately, a carefully selected subset of writings hardly represents the totality of an individual's political feelings, which can change over a period of up to seven years.
Most importantly, the political beliefs of a civilian should not be used to advance political battles.
Answers (so far)
On Sunday (June 21), Minister of Justice and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam said that Dr. Tan asked a "legitimate question" whether Mr. Singh was aware of Mr. Saát's Facebook posts.
In his response to the article, Mr. Singh said: "If a Singaporean consistently demonstrates that he or she rejects Singapore or our constitution, or opposes Singapore with an overseas political agenda, neither I nor the WP will advocate such behavior."
However, Mr. Singh also claimed that the article was "politically motivated to split the Singaporeans" and "to paint WP in a negative light".
Mr. Singh reiterated his position that “Singaporeans like Mr. Alfian Saát do not deserve to be warned in Parliament for a selective reading of their words. "
In response to the allegations, Mr. Sa & # 39; at claimed that he had not "taken sides".
According to the playwright, he only wanted to offer "alternative views of Malaysia", motivated by the observation that Singaporean nationalism rests on "a feeling of superiority that at times comes close to contempt and hatred … for our neighboring countries".
Mr. Sa & # 39; at defended his position and stated that "all this talk about my love or loyalty to the country also makes" patriotism "a kind of supreme virtue, as if each character had to be judged by this and that alone."
"Composer Pablo Casals said:" Love of your own country is a great thing. But why should love stop at the border? There is one (community) among all (people). This must be recognized if life is to stay. "
There is certainly no lack of empathy for Mr. Sa & # 39; at, who appears to accidentally see himself as a peasant of political organizations.
If the PAP can run online cyberbullying campaigns, it should apply the same principles to the treatment of its own citizens.
Selected image source: Political Action Party / Workers' Party / Wild Rice