Photo of Tharman Shanmugaratnam with hell note

After admitting that his ruling party government engaged in gutter politics by making defamatory accusations against opposition candidates, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam now backtracked his words claiming that no such thing happened:

“Gutter Politics? I see that some social media commentators have claimed that I agreed in the dialogue that the PAP had engaged in gutter politics in the Bukit Batok by-election. That is not what I said, and not what I believe.”

In his Facebook post, Minister Tharman claimed that the defamatory comments made by the ruling party are just “contrast” and “highlights”:

“The PAP contrasted Dr Chee Soon Juan’s character with that of Murali Pillai in the Bukit Batok by-election, and highlighted how Dr Chee had said he was proud about his past. Dr Chee and his colleagues in the SDP responded by arguing that questions of character should not be raised in elections, and accused the PAP of gutter politics for doing so. I stand by what the PAP and my colleagues said. The PAP was not engaging in gutter politics. The character of candidates is at the heart of politics: voters look at a politician’s actions over time, judge his motivations and integrity, and decide whether they can trust him.”

The PAP Minister also defended the government-regulated mainstream media claiming that they are not controlled by the government, and that they are instead “avoid fragmenting society”:

“On the question about the mainstream media: I have said this before, here and abroad, but it’s worth saying again. The mainstream media in Singapore is not a free-for-all. Neither is it the heavily-controlled media that some critics caricature it to be. That’s not how things are in Singapore – the media doesn’t wait around for instructions, and it doesn’t excuse everything government does. The mainstream media is what I regard as serious-minded, responsible players in an evolving Singapore democracy – helping to take it forward, but airing views in a way that avoids fragmenting society.”

Minister Tharman also defended the mainstream media’s 154th ranking in credibility by international press organisation, Reporters Without Borders:

“Even in some of the mature western democracies, people are segregating themselves into media bubbles of their own – both in the mainstream and social media – and public trust in the media is now at an all-time low. These are not the things that Reporters Without Borders looks at, but they matter to the quality of democracy in any society, and are worrying many others.”

You may read the rest of the Minister’s propaganda fake news here.

Minister Tharman backtrack: PAP did not engage in gutter politics