Possibly one of the longest debate during the public hearing by the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods (DOFs). The last session yesterday between Law Minister K Shanmugam and historian Dr Thum Ping Tjin lasted for close to six hours.
Hmm…so what did they debate that needed 6 hours? The history of Singapore and fake news.
Based on various reports, Dr Thum’s written submission had suggested that there are no examples of fake news that had a major impact on Singapore offline, except for the Operation Coldstore. Dr Thum argued that there was no evidence that those detained during the Operation Coldstore in 1963 were involved in violent communist conspiracy to overthrow the Singapore Government. Dr Thum also claimed that declassified documents from the Special Branch (aka the ISD of today) have shown that the detentions were made for political purposes rather than security ones.
Woahhhh…serious accusations on a sensitive historical event. Trying to play fire with history and politics eh?
So Mr Shanmugam questioned the Oxford research fellow’s research and argument. He pointed out that Dr Thum’s paper did not cite any accounts of Chin Peng, who was the Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). Dr Thum then said that it was impossible for him to cite every possible relevant historical source in one academic paper.
Uh-huh. That’s a really weird argument. As am elite OXFORD research fellow who looks into Singapore’s history, shouldn’t it be basic to look into records of important figures crucial to the event?
And if you watched the exchanges, Dr Thum also reiterated several times that his research was based on declassified records from the Special Branch, which he deemed to be the most reliable source of ground evidence, which led to his conclusion that there was a lack of evidence of communism in the progressive left in Singapore. He also said he had not read the accounts of some of the communists leaders cited by the law minister. Jeng jeng jeng! (didn’t do homework properly??)
Does it mean that his argument don’t know how accurate one since it was heavily based on one source, which he claimed to be the “most reliable” one? What about records and first-hand accounts of those who were involved? Works of other historian or historical evidence? So if the most reliable source says there isn’t something going on, then there really isn’t? What if the source isn’t as reliable as he claimed to be? That seemed like a convenient way of doing “research”.
Is this what the New Naratif is about?
So Dr Thum disagreed with the law minister that he had ignored evidence he does not like or suppressed what was inconvenient, and that his writings present an untrue picture. Ok, he can have his own view. But a competent researcher would acknowledge the existence of the contrasting accounts, and explain why these accounts were not reliable in his paper, shouldn’t he?
Dr Thum posted on his Facebook after the session that he wondered what the motivation was for the law minister to grill him about his work on the Coldstore at a panel that was supposed to be about Deliberate Online Falsehoods.
Err, didn’t he mention in his submission that official statements on the detaining the progressive leftist due to their involvement in communist conspiracies was an example of fake news? Does that mean that the example in his submission has nothing to do with DOFs? Then why write it in the submission? Now, who’s confused?
And if Operation Coldstone had nothing to do with fake news then why did he say Mr Lee Kuan Yew was the front of fake news. Or is it his idea of being a scholar means cannot be cannot be challenged by others one?
Well, while six hours is no way appealing, this was definitely one of the rare instances where there was an open debate on the interpretation of one of Singapore’s most important historical events. Watch it here, here, here and here (that’s how long the whole debate was @_@)
And can we also add that Dr Thum also made funny faces like this to the camera. Ehm why need to make these kind of face ah?