Academics voice concern over ‘interrogation’ of historian

At least 170 academics have voiced concern about academic freedom here, with several saying that diverse views should be encouraged and not quashed.

The academics based here and overseas have signed an open letter on the issue, in which they also defended historian Thum Ping Tjin, who was questioned for six hours last month by a parliamentary committee that was looking at the issue of deliberate online falsehoods.

The letter, addressed to the committee's chairman, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Charles Chong, said public hearings on the dissemination of fake news are welcome. But it expressed concern over how Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, a committee member, "proceeded to interrogate Dr Thum, treating him and his widely respected scholarship with disdain".

Professor Prasenjit Duara, former director of the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore (NUS), Associate Professor Lily Zubaidah Rahim of the University of Sydney and Professor Cherian George of Hong Kong Baptist University are among those who signed.- JOANNA SEOW