Pritam Singh: Tan Wu Meng didn't object or question me in Parliament earlier, his politically calculated post led to backlash

Pritam turns argument on its head.

Belmont Lay | June 21, 2020, 11:45 PM

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh has responded to the Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam asking if the opposition leader agrees with Alfian Sa'at about Malaysia.

Pritam's response on Facebook came within a few hours after Shanmugam made his views public during a media interview, with regard to Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng's article on Alfian dated June 19 and hosted on the People's Action Party (PAP) website.

Tan is the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Trade and Industry.

What Pritam said in response

Pritam's response highlighted remarks previously made by an establishment figure, and another PAP minister about the WP, as well as Tan's inaction in the past.

Here is a summary of what Pritam wrote:

• WP stood behind Singapore's troops and officers deployed to deal with a Malaysian vessel that entered Singapore waters off Tuas West last year.

• Pritam noted that Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan previously said that WP has been "a blessing", as "no party politics has supervened or interfered with our pursuit of foreign policy".

• The "loving critic" label was originally coined by Professor Tommy Koh for Alfian and Singaporeans like him.

• Koh is "a Singaporean diplomat of international stature who built his reputation by tactfully protecting Singapore's foreign interests over many decades," Pritam said.

• Pritam clarified that he is not familiar with Alfian's views on Malaysia, but he appreciated Alfian's vocation in the arts.

• "I do not specifically track what our playwrights say about Malaysia. But I have always appreciated the perspective of theatre practitioners in Singapore," Pritam wrote.

• Pritam said neither he, nor the WP, will stand for any Singaporean who rejects Singapore or our Constitution, or runs Singapore down.

• Pritam also highlighted that Tan did not raise any objections or questions in Parliament after Pritam spoke.

• Pritam wrote that "it is noteworthy that Dr Tan did not register his objections and question me directly in Parliament, as he is entitled to, being an elected MP holding a political portfolio that specifically includes foreign affairs."

• The backlash against Tan now is his own doing.

• Pritam called Tan’s post a "belated but calculated decision to express his views on the PAP website on the eve of imminent general elections".

• Pritam also wrote that "the leap in logic of extending Mr Alfian Saat’s artistic expressions to an endorsement by the WP of every controversial view Mr Alfian has made, go some way to explain the vitriol that continues to come the way of not just Dr Tan, but the PAP as well".

• Pritam ended his post saying: "The public are equally entitled to respond as they deem fit - within the remit of the law – and at the ballot box."

You can read Pritam's full post here:

Top photo via Pritam Singh, K Shanmugam & Tan Wu Meng