Dr Thum’s follow up submission to the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods

Note: The line numbers refer to the transcript of the hearing.

At the invitation of Mr Shanmugam (lines 1049–1065, 1808, 5591), I am submitting this as a follow up to my hearing to be entered into the record, to address points raised which I was unable to fully address during the hearing. This includes clarification of points raised, clarification of sources and documents raised in the hearing, and submission of documents requested during the hearing on specific incidents.

Clarification of Points Raised

1. The crux of my original submission was not addressed in the discussion. Instead, the focus of discussion in the hearing was my article “The Fundamental Issue is Anti-colonialism, Not Merger’: Singapore’s “Progressive Left”. As such, I attach my article in this submission to be included in the report to the Select Committee (attachment 1). Regardless of the merits of my article, the larger point which I made in my submission remains substantially unchallenged: “Beginning with Operation Coldstore in 1963, politicians have told Singaporeans that people were being detained without trial on national security grounds due to involvement with radical communist conspiracies to subvert the state. Declassified documents have proven this to be a lie. Operation Coldstore was conducted for political purposes, and there was no evidence that the detainees of Operation Coldstore were involved in any conspiracy to subvert the government.”

2. I note that the fundamental arguments of my article as laid out in the conclusion (page 21–22) were not raised nor challenged.

3. At no point did I accept that any part of my article was inaccurate or misleading. The focus of a major part of the hearing was on my interpretation of two documents: A mole within the Barisan organisation attended two meetings of the Barisan Socialis on 23 September and 30 September 1962 and submitted two memoranda describing the discussions of the two meetings. The meetings were called to discuss the party’s strategy following the Merger referendum of 1 September 1962. The Barisan Sosialis believed that the PAP had effectively rigged the referendum by using the parliamentary process to force through referendum ballot that contained three options, all of which favoured merger, of which only the PAP’s version was feasible, and with no option to say no. The documents, therefore, must be read against the anger and frustration of the Barisan rank and file, who — as I noted in my article “had complained that the constitution was pointless if it was so easily manipulated”.

a. Only one sentence of my article was subject to any substantial challenge: “Selkirk chose to interpret these as calls to abandon constitutional action, and disregarded their unanimous agreement to keep following peaceful constitutional action” (page 19). I was invited to consider a hypothetical scenario presented by Mr Shanmugam to interpret the sentence in the light of a single document, despite the fact that the footnote reference in my ARI paper is based on two separate meetings and notes of these meetings of the Barisan Socialis on 23 September and 30 September 1962. Mr Shanmugam’s questioning focused primarily on the notes of the 23 September 1962 meeting.[1] I repeatedly declined to do so. Finally at the instruction of the Chairman to do so (line 5013–5014), I replied “Just based on this document [the 23 September 1962 telegram], I accept that I could have worded what I said better, yes.” (Lines 5002–5019). Subsequent references to rewording the sentence (e.g. 5485, 5492) must be understood in that context. If we take the sentence based upon both meeting notes and all documents cited and in the context it was presented within my article, the sentence is accurate. In particular, paragraph 3 of the meeting notes of 30 September 1962 is clear: “All the speakers were agreed that the first immediate task was to overthrow the P.A.P Government through victory in the State elections”. This second document, and this particular paragraph, is crucial to understanding my overall argument that there was “unanimous agreement to keep following peaceful constitutional action”.

b. In particular, it would be inaccurate to interpret the sentence in question as an attempt to omit some Barisan members’ calls for extra-constitutional action. The preceding sentence in my ARI paper acknowledges these calls: “Barisan members had complained that the constitution was pointless if it was so easily manipulated, asking if there was another way forward.”

c. Equally, I stated that “I accepted that perhaps I could have rephrased this better, but fundamentally, I think my point stands that they were going to keep following peaceful constitutional action.” (line 5186–5188) I accept that it was possible for the sentence to take into account the hypothetical scenario that the Barisan members may choose to take up arms in the future. However, as I stated in lines 4879–4884, the Barisan members had not actually resolved to take up armed struggle, and thus for the historically relevant purpose of identifying whether or not Operation Coldstore was necessary in the context, the more relevant historical point of note was the Barisan’s actual resolve to continue with constitutional struggle.

d. Less historically relevant was the question of what the Barisan would have hypothetically done in a situation where the constitutional order was subverted. For instance, one Barisan member who attended the 23 September 1962 meeting conceived of armed struggle in a situation where Lee Kuan Yew “would “replace the constitutional form of struggle with a military dictatorship”. These were hypothetical scenarios as of September 1962.The omission of these hypothetical (and speculative) possibilities does not impair the fundamental point of the sentence: that there was “unanimous agreement to keep following peaceful constitutional action.” My sentence is accurate.

e. In response to Mr Shanmugam’s statement that “The way you have put it is misleading and it should have been better phrased and what Lord Selkirk said in his telegram on that second point is accurate” (line 5227–5228), I replied “On the second point, yes.” I did not accept that my work was in any way misleading. I only accepted that Selkirk was accurate that Lim Chin Siong had not completely ruled out violence, but in the context this was a less historically relevant fact than the Barisan’s decision to continue with the constitutional struggle for the time being.

f. I wish to note an error in the record which could be misleading to readers. While Mr Shanmugam corrects himself in speech at line 4178, the record does not adequately reflect that Mr Shanmugam began reading from a different document. Therefore, it appears as if he continues to be referring to Lord Selkirk’s Telegram 582 of 14 December 1962, instead of Telegram 573 of 11 December 1962 (referenced in fn. 133 of my article). It is important to clarify exactly which document is being referenced, because Telegram 573 in fact shows the Lord Selkirk was more concerned with the political position of the British vis-à-vis merger and the creation of Malaysia, than with the security issue. As I noted in my article, “Lord Selkirk spent the bulk of his four-page telegram to British Secretary of State for the Colonies Duncan Sandys explaining that it was now impossible to deny the Federation the arrests they so badly craved without jeopardising merger.” In other words, his Telegram 573 supports my argument that Operation Coldstore was fundamentally motivated by political, not security, reasons.

Therefore, as I had maintained during the hearing, my sentence that “Selkirk chose to interpret these as calls to abandon constitutional action, and disregarded their unanimous agreement to keep following peaceful constitutional action” is a reasonable interpretation of his position and is not misleading. My overall point in my article that Operation Coldstore was fundamentally motivated by political, not security, reasons, stands.

 

Dr. Thum Ping Tjin
University of Oxford

3 May 2018

 

Source: https://medium.com/@pj_85357/follow-up-submission-to-the-select-committee-on-deliberate-online-falsehoods-parliament-of-f1c34a2d9365

 

 

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15 Responses to “Dr Thum’s follow up submission to the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods”

  • Haigen-diaz:

    That remind one of toddlers who haven’t yet figured out that unpleasant things don’t disappear just because they close their eyes. The truth is out there for those who value it. The bias is in what we do with them or how we change them to suit our politics. In the case of the Coldstore Op, facts are an anathema to their understanding of history as they see it: A virtual vortex of inexorable decline, born of destructive emotion that views reason with contempt. Dr. Thum take scientific consensus, based on rigorous research, observation and experimentation, methods developed over the years which have allowed us to make enormous strides in piecing historical facts together. All this said, I fully realize that not everybody has the tools to understand the avalanche of new information and rapid technological change we face and are fearful they will have to shed some beliefs but we owe it to the next generation, who will get it, to provide them with the tools and opportunities they will need. All patriotic Singaporeans should want the best information and analysis about our history. Let’s then argue vigorously about what to do, but I have no respect for the views or purported leadership of people who refuse to accept such information. They are hacks, not patriots. They are weak, not strong. They care only about themselves, not about anyone else.

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  • oxygen:

    PAST TENSE THAT HIS MARVEL WORK was his “noble deeds” – so let history judged the morality of that. PAPpys now wants to re-write his confessed narratives after PAST TENSE has gone to TERN SUA never to return to answer this binary question of truth accounting.

    YES or NO?

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  • rukidding:

    When “challenged” by an outsider,….this “Black Panther” begin to look more like a “Mickey mouse” than a “Cat”.

    Haaaaaaaa….

    Only know how to “Bully” the so call “Dafts” Sillyporeans !

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  • MarBowling:

    It was reported today that President XJP has wholeheartedly EMBRACED the party’s founding ideology(which is Marxism)and reintroduced study sessions that hark back to the Mao era! And here in SinKapore donkey years ago, we have Lee Kayu making use of Operation Coldstore and Operation Spectrum to detain hundreds of so-called Marxist Singaporeans and locked them inside prisons without trials! Some remained imprisoned for more than 30 years. And yet for donkey years Lee Kayu and his Gang were rubbing shoulders with the China Chinese Marxists and doing business with them todate. Hypocrisy by Lee Kayu and the PAPigs at its best! HoLee shit!

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  • patriot of Temesak:

    The Sham was TRAINED to Bark & Attack on COMMAND!!!…he holds the keys to the “Whatever that was HELD” with an IDIOT who “Thinks” he is an Elite and Aristocrat as ascribed by a Coward & Traitor now DEAD as Chairman

    It is a JOKE!!! but to these Fools & Idiots who has a JOB that pays them well enough even to sell their mothers’ soul its SERIOUS BUSINESS or they will be ColdStored or WORSE!!!

    May I suggest that you Mr Thum Sir!!! consider joining an OPPs party and stand for election come 2020 or earlier…hopefully before the OWL claim the filthy soul and gain sympathy votes as in 2015…

    By all calculations of the Stars and Beliefs of OMENS two visits of the Owl after the collection of an evil soul in 2015 is a “DEADSURE” unless he sells all his ill-gotten treasure return it to the people and be TRULY and NOT Perfunctory REMORSEFUL of his evil deeds ONLY THEN he may be SAVE!!!…If NOT???… it is a NO HOPE sure GO in 2 Years after the last visit on August 2017… ie 2019 “DEAD ON”!!!

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  • never voted pap:

    first, we agree with Dr Thum. if pap is adamant about pap position, we challenge the pap Lj to call a national referendum and let the 3.3m citizens decide once and for all whether Dr Thum is right or pap is wrong.

    second, besides the NSF death from heatstroke, this Dr Thum topic is another of those pap PA paid IBs are active in INTERNET. but such pap trickery ain’t going to work. because pap is master of FAKE news is well know to all. like the saying, paper cannot cover fire. the truth rules, not pap FAKE news.

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  • LIONS:

    Simple as this.
    THAT which is not pleasing to our ears are all FAKE NEWS even if they are HARD TRUTHS.
    If you LIE BUT IT FEELS GOOD SOUNDS GOOD to (us), your LIE will be deemed as TRUTH.
    Not only that,you may get rewarded too.

    Dont believe?
    Go ask my top ministers n scholar-generals.

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  • Dr Tan Tai Wei:

    At that second BS meeting, one member said that should LKY became unconstitutional and set up a military dictatorship, how could they remain constitutional? Would have to meet force with force, or acquiesce and thus be unpatriotic, betraying their supporters’ trust? If this account of Dr Thum’s is accurate, then the “violence” mentioned was, as Thum said, only “hypothetical”, somewhat like LKY’s more recent saying, with reference to a hypothetical Opposition “freak” victory, and his obsessive fear that they would then waste all our reserves, etc., “The army will have to move in to stop all the nonsense”. So LKY should have been jailed for anticipating unconstitutional violence, abusing his SAF? No, for it’s his passionate care for the nation and his constituents? Then, so also, as to Lim Chin Siong, who “had not ruled out violence at that meeting”?

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  • Great Asia:

    This man is a tomahawk once his PAP master pushed the button, he will head straight for the target. Whether the target has women and children or terrorists, he doesn’t care.

    Ha ha ha!

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  • N.Jungne:

    Alarmak let “chewing gum” decide, after all LeeKayu died already, his Dson busy with Soduko problems

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  • On the nature of Fake:

    A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes … I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves [amassing the ephemeral world?].

    - Ludwig Wittgenstein, Trinity College, University of Cambridge

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  • N.Jungne:

    MarBowling:
    It was reported today that President XJP has wholeheartedly EMBRACED the party’s founding ideology(which is Marxism)and reintroduced study sessions that hark back to the Mao era! And here in SinKapore donkey years ago, we have Lee Kayu making use of Operation Coldstore and Operation Spectrum to detain hundreds of so-called Marxist Singaporeans and locked them inside prisons without trials! Some remained imprisoned for more than 30 years. And yet for donkey years Lee Kayu and his Gang were rubbing shoulders with the China Chinese Marxists and doing business with them todate. Hypocrisy by Lee Kayu and the PAPigs at its best! HoLee shit!

    Response: Buy more popcorns, from now on, do 36, don’t do also 36. Going by the WHITE BOOK by the Whites, instead of the RED BOOK by Mao

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  • Merobok:

    In that hearing, he thought he was cross examining in a Court of Law! You see, he had not been practising for a long time and wanted to give it a try with his vindictive attitude…but failed miserably.

    Firstly, he is not a historian and knows nuts on the situation in the 60″s.

    Secondly, it has been the PAP’s way of using proxies mostly Indians to do the dirty work. Years before, S. Rajaratnam became the mouth piece to counter Devan Nair with countless articles in the ST. Later, Jayakumar became their mouth piece again in the debacle on Operation Spectrum. He even mention a priest was immoral as he had been involved with a women.

    It is interesting to note that these mouth pieces did not go far even as they had hope and aspirations!

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  • School dropouts:

    Them you are baiting the ISD?

    Sure masok……..if you continue!

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  • Ah Peng Kia:

    From this clarification from Dr Thum, it has become clear how the PAP propaganda machine twists words, omit critical parts (e.g. which document Sham was reading from), and manipulate the situation to make it look like Dr Thum conceded he was wrong. Apparently, Dr Thum was essentially saying, if you use document A, then yes, I could word my submission differently, but if we put document A and B together, my work is substantiated.

    Let all who are not blind see how PAP conjures fake news. This is a classic example!

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