Monday, May 20, 2013

Politics and Our Neighbours -- By Daniel Koh Kah Soon

With his permission to re-post, here is Daniel Koh's (my Christian Ethics lecturer at Trinity Theological College) response to Singapore government's action on Malaysians' political activity in Singapore:
The Straits Times has carried various reports about the arrest of 21 Malaysians for illegal assembly, some of them have their work permits revoked. (ST, 15 May).

Their arrest and action taken against them have raised more questions for me as an interested observer and as someone with good friends and relatives in Malaysia. In the first place, the Malaysians were not involved in interfering with Singapore politics. The Malaysians gathered to express their concern about politics in their home country. If such gathering is illegal, and therefore subject to police action, would it not be fair to say that the same law should be applied to every Malaysian who has violated such a law, regardless of the Malaysian's social status or political affiliation? From the perspective of being fair and even-handed, if the ordinary Malaysians were arrested, should not our police also arrest Abdul Ghani Othman for bringing his highly politicised and widely publicised election campaign to Singapore?

Furthermore, besides Mr Othman, should not the members of his entourage be arrested as well, for illegal assembly and politicking on Singapore soil? This has to be done strictly on the basis of no illegal gathering in Singapore is allowed for foreigners to promote an external political cause. If there is such a gathering the same law is applied to anyone who breaks such a law.

Of late, two ministries - Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs - have issued a statement to say "No offence was committed during former Johor chief's visit, says ministries" (TODAY May 18). But they have not answered the questions:

If the former Johor Chief Minister's tour of Singapore was not a political campaign, why should he visit Singapore during the electioneering period and not another time?

If it was not political campaign why the need to bring along supporters with many of them openly wearing campaign shirts?

If it was not a political campaign why the need to involve and manage the media to ensure that the event was widely publicised?

In fairness to those 21 Malaysians who were rounded up by our Police, the former Mentri Besar should be invited to our Police station for questioning, and those kakis who wore political cloths when they accompanied the former Mentri Besar to Singapore should also be arrested for illegal assembly.
His brief comment is posted on Singapore news portal TodayOnline:
The statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs, reported in “No offence was committed during former Johor chief’s visit, say ministries” (May 18), raised more questions than it has answered.

If it was not for a political campaign, why should the former Menteri Besar visit Singapore during the election period, and not another time?

Why the need to bring supporters wearing campaign shirts?

The former Menteri Besar should be invited here to be questioned by the police, and the supporters who wore campaign shirts when they accompanied him should be arrested for illegal assembly.

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