Angered at a Straits Times reporter’s opinion article suggesting that politicians should not argue with historical facts, two Ministers lashed out in a response claiming that the history may lie but never the ruling party PAP.
Minister of State Janil Puthucheary and Social and Family Development Minister Desmond co-wrote a letter making several similar audacious claims:
“This is so because the views of politicians are bound to be coloured by political interests, he says. Whereas all historians can be relied on to pronounce authoritatively on the historical “truth” because they view history objectively.
This position cannot be right…
Are we to keep silent, and receive this view passively because he is a “historian”, in possession of the “truth”, and we are “politicians”, in possession of mere “opinions”?
…For Mr Han to suggest after the fact that Dr Thum should not have been questioned because some of his writings have been peer-reviewed is to claim a privilege that is available to no other professional expert, let alone the Government or elected MPs.
The claim is especially hard to understand, considering that Dr Thum’s proclamation that his work is “solid and, thus far, no historian has come out and contradicted the central thrust of my work” – an assertion that Mr Han quotes approvingly – is obviously false.”
The two PAP Ministers then attacked Oxford historian Dr Thum Ping Tjin, accusing him of political agenda in his historical writings. A new term “post-truth politics” was even coined for falsification of historical facts:
“Dr Thum is an activist, as much as he may be a scholar, as is evident from his online writings. He could have applied himself solely to peer-reviewed historical research, and measured his success on the basis of what academics might have said of his work… “Post-truth” politics is not for Singaporeans and Singapore. No one – journalists, scholars, citizens and the political leadership included – should tolerate it.”
The Straits Times editor has since been silenced and did not respond to the Ministers.
Minister Janil Puthucheary is an ex-Malaysian who did not serve National Service.