Website New Naratif says claims against it ‘unfounded’

Firm got $98k from entity linked to George Soros

The website New Naratif, run by historian Thum Ping Tjin and freelance journalist Kirsten Han, has denied suggestions that it is being used by foreigners to pursue a political activity in Singapore as "unfounded".

In a rejoinder last night, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) said that New Naratif "clearly has a political agenda", and had also confirmed that it received a grant from an entity linked to American billionaire George Soros.

It added that New Naratif's statement highlighted that it has received funding from "over 420 members in 17 different countries".

Said Acra: "In other words, its political activities in Singapore would appear to be funded by a number of foreigners - not only foreign entities like OSF (Open Society Foundations) but also citizens of foreign countries."

The exchange of words comes a day after the authority said it had refused to register a company to be headed by Dr Thum and Ms Han, OSEA Pte Ltd.

Acra said allowing the registration would be contrary to Singapore's national interests.

This is because OSEA was to be a subsidiary of a British-registered company OSEA UK, which had received a grant of US$75,000 (S$98,000) from Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI), said Acra.

FOSI is closely associated with OSF, which is founded by Mr Soros and has a history of being involved in various countries' politics, it added. "Singapore's politics should be for Singaporeans alone to determine," said Acra.

But New Naratif yesterday said that the grant from FOSI was awarded on the basis of the website's project concept and "does not impose any conditions beyond goals that we defined ourselves".

"FOSI and OSF do not have any involvement or input in New Naratif's editorial decisions or the day-to-day running of our start-up", it said.

New Naratif added that it is substantially supported by revenue from members, who pay subscription fees of between US$52 and US$552 per year.

Acra also refuted New Naratif's characterisation of its work as being "a platform for journalism, research, art or community building", saying that it is also known to have organised events like workshops and "Democracy Classroom" sessions. "New Naratif clearly has a political agenda," said Acra.

Ms Han told The Straits Times yesterday that she and Dr Thum are seeking legal advice.

She said they wanted to register OSEA in Singapore "so that we can operate in accordance with Singapore's regulations".

Singapore Politics