Singapore MP irked by suggestion S’poreans should celebrate Merdeka

Seah Kian Peng slammed historian Thum Ping Tjin for suggesting that Singaporeans should also rejoice on Malaysia’s independence day. (Facebook pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: A Singapore MP is not happy that several dissidents have invited Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to address a conference on democracy next year.

Seah Kian Peng.

The remarks by one of the four activists from Singapore who met Mahathir in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 30 have also irked Seah Kian Peng.

Yesterday, he slammed historian Thum Ping Tjin for suggesting that Singaporeans should also rejoice on Malaysia’s independence day which fell on Aug 31.

Writing on Facebook, Seah said: “It appears quite clear to me that PJ Thum does not wish Singapore well. It is interesting that Kirsten, Jolovan and Sonny should associate themselves with Thum.”

Seah was referring to a meeting between Thum, political dissident Tan Wah Piow, freelance journalist Kirsten Han, civil rights activist Jolovan Wham and graphic novelist Sonny Liew with Mahathir.

Following the vist, Today Online reported, Thum posted on Facebook: “Selamat Hari Merdeka to the people of the former Federation of Malaya! (and happy unofficial independence day to the people of Singapore!)”

Separately, it reported, Singapore Democratic Party member Teo Soh Lung commented on a Facebook video by socio-political website The Online Citizen that “Singapore is part of Malaya la”.

Thum Ping Tjin.

To this Seah asked: “Really? This is what PJ Thum and Teo Soh Lung and the SDP believe in their heart of hearts?” He claimed Teo’s reference to “Malaya”, and not “Malaysia” was “a tip of the hat, I presume, to the name the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) preferred for the peninsula, including Singapore”.

Seah continued: “Is it also a coincidence that they had accompanied Tan Wah Piow on this visit to Dr M? Tan was convicted for rioting in 1975 and slipped out of Singapore upon his release from (prison) to avoid National Service. Several of Tan’s comrades from that time subsequently joined the CPM’s radio station, ‘Voice of the Malayan Revolution’, in Changsha, China.”

The MP said he was “amazed” that Thum and his supporters should proclaim that Singapore was part of Malaysia or Malaya. “Perhaps that is why he thinks it is permissible to ask its current prime minister to interfere in our affairs,” Seah added.

After a 90-minute meeting with Mahathir, Tan, who is part of a group called the Forces for Renewal of South East Asia, invited Mahathir to deliver the keynote address at a conference they are organising next year.

Tan, who is now based in London, said: “I hope the May 9 polls can influence Singaporeans. Malaysia has pointed the way to Singaporeans that change is possible and not frightening.”

Tan said the frequent narrative that a change of government in Malaysia would spark racial clashes was also disproved by the smooth power transition after the general election when Barisan Nasional was displaced after 61 years by the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

“That emboldens the people and frees them from the myth that democracy leads to violence,” Tan had said, adding that Mahathir’s victory had brought hope to many others in the region struggling for a freer society.

Seah said Thum had invited Mahathir to “bring democracy to Singapore”. He added: “I wonder what deep historical insight prompted him to make this plea, to Dr M, whose views on the Water Agreement with Singapore, and Singapore knowing its place in relation to Malaysia are well known.

“Perhaps I should remind PJ Thum that our constitution requires any change to the sovereignty of Singapore to be approved by two-thirds of all voters in a referendum. This requirement was put in by our founding leaders. As a result of our searing experience in the 23 months when we were part of Malaysia, they knew how important it was to safeguard our independence and sovereignty.”