Thum’s claims must be debunked: Shanmugam

Historian Thum Ping Tjin had made serious allegations about Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, and these had to be addressed, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

"Either they have to be accepted, or shown to be untrue. Keeping quiet about them was not an option," Mr Shanmugam wrote in a Facebook post.

He said he had been asked why he spent some time asking Dr Thum questions.

Last Thursday, the minister grilled the academic for nearly six hours during the Select Committee hearings on deliberate online falsehoods.

Mr Shanmugam said that Dr Thum's main point, in his written submission to the committee, "was that Mr Lee Kuan Yew was the biggest creator of fake news in Singapore, a liar, and Operation Coldstore was based on falsehoods".

In his submission, Dr Thum cited previous research he did that contended that there was no evidence the detainees were involved in any violent communist conspiracy to overthrow the Singapore Government.

Dr Thum, a research fellow at Britain's Oxford University, also argued that the 1963 Operation Coldstore, in which more than 100 leftist politicians and unionists were arrested and detained, had been politically motivated.

These were serious allegations, Mr Shanmugam said in his post.

He said Dr Thum had refused to answer many of the questions directly, and it took five hours plus to go through the documents and records carefully.

In the end, Dr Thum said he had not read some of the material published by ex-communists on what had happened in Singapore, and had "disregarded" the statements made by Chin Peng, leader of the Communist Party of Malaya.

The researcher also said that the way he set out the most important documents - of December 1962 - was not accurate; that the key meetings of Barisan Socialis showed that they were prepared to use armed struggle to overthrow a government of Singapore, if necessary; and the British had a honest view, in December 1962, that security action was necessary.

Added Mr Shanmugam: "People know me - I am direct, I deal with the facts, and say it as I think it is."

Singapore Politics