Singaporean historian Thum Ping Tjin’s meeting with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his reference to Aug 31 as Singapore’s “unofficial independence day” continues to raise hackles across the Causeway.
Yesterday, retired Singaporean diplomat Bilahari Kausikan characterised the meeting as an attempt at foreign interference and questioned Thum’s loyalties.
“Thum and other ‘activists’ meet Dr Mahathir and invite him to interfere in Singapore’s internal politics.
“When this behaviour is described as traitorous, (Thum) rejects that characterisation as unfounded and declares ‘I love my country and my people’.
“Very good. But which is his country and who are his people” Kausikan asked in a Facebook post yesterday.
Last Thursday, Thum posted on Facebook that he had met with Mahathir and urged him to “take leadership in Southeast Asia for the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of information”.
On Malaysia’s Independence Day the next day, Thum wrote “Selamat Hari Merdeka to the people of the former Federation of Malaya! (and happy unofficial independence day to the people of Singapore!)”
Malaysia 'beacon of hope'
Following a backlash, he denied that he was a “traitor” for both the meeting and the greeting, explaining that he loved Singapore and wanted it to embrace democracy citing Malaysia as an example.
“I love my country and my people. I believe democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of information will make Singapore and our world better.
“I will never stop fighting for a Singapore that embraces these values and respects the dignity and rights of each and every individual.
“I also believe in engagement on the basis of mutual respect.
“Malaysia is now a beacon of hope for democracy in Southeast Asia and I expressed to Mahathir the hope that many of us feel,” he said on Facebook.