Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam says he intends to lodge a police report against independent scholar Sangeetha Thanapal on Friday for a Facebook post he called “inaccurate and seditious”.
He said her post – which has since been taken down – had misrepresented remarks he made at a Singapore Press Club talk on Thursday on how regional trends can affect Singapore.
“What Ms Thanapal wrote is inaccurate and seditious, and attributes to me sentiments that I do not hold and have never held,” he said in a Facebook post last night.
“I intend to file a police report about this tomorrow.”
He added: “She unfortunately twisted what I had said and suggested that I was an ‘Islamophobic bigot who thinks Malay-Muslims are a threat’. I had not said anything like that.”
Ms Thanapal, 33, took her post down less than an hour after Mr Shanmugam’s post was put up at around 8pm. She also said she was seeking legal advice.
Mr Shanmugam, responding on her Facebook at about 11.15pm, said he held “no personal animosity” towards her, and said he would be happy to speak to her.
Shortly afterwards, she responded saying: “I am very sorry for all that has happened. The post took on a life of its own, and came out differently from how I intended. Thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me. I will make myself available anytime you wish to do so.”
Mr Shanmugam then asked for a telephone number and said he would contact her today. As at midnight, there was no indication in the exhanges about whether he would still file a police report.
When Mr Shanmugam first posted about Ms Thanapal’s remarks, he said the point he actually made at the event was that the Malaysian education system was not good for integration.
“The Chinese leadership in various local areas in Malaysia want to maintain control over the Chinese population. It suits them to have Chinese students go to Chinese schools instead of mainstream Malaysian schools. And the schools are more Chinese (because they are effectively single race),” he wrote.
“At the same time, many mainstream schools in Malaysia are becoming more Malay (because the students are largely Malay) and Islamic (e.g. through the way some principals and teachers handle matters) which discourages the Chinese from going into those schools. So you end up with having more Malays going to mainstream schools, and more Chinese going to Chinese schools. As a result, the different races are kept apart from a young age.”
Ms Thanapal’s Facebook post appeared to take issue with Mr Shanmugam saying that mainstream schools in Malaysia were “becoming more Malay and Islamic”.
She wrote: “The only reason you would consider this important enough to make statements about, is if you are an Islamaphobic bigot who thinks Malay-Muslims are a threat.”