MP slams historian for saying Singapore is part of ‘Malaya’

(The Straits Times/Asia News Network): MP Seah Kian Peng criticised historian Thum Ping Tjin on Saturday (Sept 1), writing in a Facebook post that he is “amazed that Dr Thum and his supporters should proclaim that Singapore is part of Malaysia (or Malaya)”.

Seah’s post came after Dr Thum, freelance journalist Kirsten Han, comic artist Sonny Liew and activist Jolovan Wham, met Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday (Aug 30).

Seah noted that they had “invited Tun Dr Mahathir to bring democracy to Singapore, and suggest that Singapore is part of Malaya”.

“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,” wrote Seah, who is MP for Marine Parade GRC.

Dr Thum Ping Tjin met Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya on Aug 30, 2018.

Dr Thum posted on Facebook about his meeting, saying he had asked the Malaysian leader to “take leadership in South-east Asia for the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of information”.

Seah then pointed out that Dr Thum had put up an unusual greeting on his Facebook the day after the meeting with Dr Mahathir.

“On August 31, Malaysia’s national day, he posted an unusual greeting, ‘Selamat Hari Merdeka to the people of the former Federation of Malaya’, and suggested that Singaporeans should also rejoice on that day since it was Singapore’s ‘unofficial independence day’.”

Seah also noted that Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) member Teo Soh Lung had written in a comment on a video on The Online Citizen’s Facebook page: “Singapore is part of Malaya la”.

Seah wrote: “Really? This is what PJ Thum and Teo Soh Lung and the SDP believe in their heart of hearts?”

He added: “I’m amazed that Dr Thum and his supporters should proclaim that Singapore is 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. It appears quite clear to me that PJ Thum does not wish Singapore well.”

The Straits Times has contacted the SDP for comment.

Seah also wrote that Singapore’s Constitution requires any change to the sovereignty of the Republic to be approved by two-thirds of all voters in a referendum.

He noted that when moving this constitutional amendment in Parliament, Singapore’s first Minister for Law, and the author of the Separation Agreement, E.W. Barker, said that “in the methodology of the destruction of a nation by its foes, war by force of arms is not necessarily the only means employed. The independence of a nation may, by more subtle means, be subverted”.

Seah also quoted Barker as saying: “The seductive blandishments of foreign agents must not be allowed to succeed.”

“Quite right and I am sure Singaporeans will agree with that,” he added.

In a blog post on Saturday (Sept 1) night, Han said she was shocked by  Seah’s post, adding that he appears to have misunderstood the nature of the meeting with Malaysia’s PM.

“PJ did not say that he asked Mahathir to bring democracy to Singapore, nor did I hear him say such a thing during the meeting,” she wrote.  She also said that the historian’s “happy unofficial independence day” wish was about  “merely a reference to our own history”, signifying the end of colonial British rule in Singapore.

The Federation of Malaya officially declared its independence from the British on August 31, 1957.