SINGAPORE, July 7 — The timing of the police reports on Workers’ Party (WP) candidate Raeesah Khan’s past social media posts is an example of “gutter politics” that the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) would not practise, PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock said today.
Police said on Sunday that Raeesah’s social media posts are the subject of an investigation for allegedly “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race”.
The posts, made in February 2018 and May this year, resurfaced during the hustings and police said two reports had been made in relation to them.
“(The posts) were made long ago so long ago, they should have taken action (then),” said Dr Tan during a walkabout at Bukit Merah View Market today. “Why wait until now? That’s the question.”
“That means they have been waiting for this moment and this is what you call gutter politics,” he added. “Let us stay higher, then the world will look at us and regard Singapore as a very mature country.”
Raeesah, 26, apologised for the posts on Sunday.
Raeesah, who is contesting Sengkang Group Representation Constituency (GRC), said that it was never her intention to cause any social division. Rather, she was trying to raise awareness about the concerns of minorities.
Raeesah is contesting the newly formed Sengkang GRC with He Ting Ru, 37, Dr Jamus Lim, 44, and Louis Chua, 33.
In the posts, Raeesah allegedly questioned whether Singapore’s law enforcement authorities had discriminated against citizens, and whether compared with other groups, rich Chinese and white people were treated differently by the law.
In the context of a news article on the City Harvest Church ruling, Raeesah allegedly said that Singapore jailed minorities mercilessly, harassed mosque leaders, but let corrupt church leaders who stole S$50 million walk free and asked who had been paid.
She made the comment after six City Harvest Church leaders were found guilty of various charges of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts in October 2015.
A day after Raeesah’s apology, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) called on WP to state its stand on the incident.
It said: “In fairness to voters, both in Sengkang and elsewhere, the WP should state its stand on Raeesah’s posts, since she has admitted to making highly derogatory statements about Chinese and Christians.”
PAP also asked that Raeesah make her other posts public, so that voters can assess her suitability to be elected into Parliament.
When asked for his thoughts on this statement, Dr Tan said that the ruling party should be “more gentlemanly” instead of engaging in the “politics of fear”.
“(PAP should) have a dialogue, rather than throw statements like this,” he said. “If you throw a statement like this, where is this conversation?”
“When you throw statements at me, I can also throw another statement. But no, we are not going to fall into that,” he added.
PSP candidate Wendy Low, who is contesting Tanjong Pagar GRC, said that such political tactics could also discourage potential leaders from coming forward to serve in politics.
“I know a lot of qualified professionals, people of different backgrounds who want to step up,” said the 43-year-old. “But it’s because they’re so afraid of having their public life exposed, their social media accounts being trawled from way back.”
“I think we’re doing Singaporeans a disservice by perpetuating that.”
Sengkang residents supportive, concerned about Raeesah Khan
Separately, He, who is leading WP’s team in Sengkang GRC, said that some residents in the town have expressed support and concern over the posts made by Khan.
In an interview with the media today, He said that the team has been working hard on the ground even after the latest developments.
“We have been having very deep and meaningful conversations with the residents. This matter has come up and we have had very good discussions with the residents about this,” she said at a doorstop interview with her teammates and party leaders Pritam Singh and Sylvia Lim in Sengkang today.
“They have expressed both support and concern.”
Singh declined to comment further on the matter as investigations are continuing.
Those found guilty of promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion or race, under Section 298A of the Penal Code, could be jailed up to three years, fined, or punished with both. Police investigations are under way.
Meanwhile, Raeesah’s teammate, Dr Lim, had last week drawn widespread online praise for his performance in a live national televised debate.
Asked if Sengkang residents had brought that up, Dr Lim said that he appreciated the party giving him the opportunity to take part in the debate.
“But most importantly, I think I was a mouthpiece for the entire party. So what I shared at that national debate was essentially our position We are part of an entire team,” he said. — TODAY