Workers’ Party (WP) candidate for the Sengkang GRC, Ms Raeesah Khan, is currently under police investigation after two police reports have been lodged over comments made by her on social media. The comments were allegedly promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion or race. As of Sunday (5 July 2020), she has made a public apology and continues in the running for the election campaign.
According to an SPF statement, “She allegedly commented that Singapore law enforcement authorities discriminated against citizens, and that compared to other groups, rich Chinese and white people were treated differently under the law.”
The statement added that in the context of a news article on the City Harvest Church ruling, “Raeesah Khan allegedly commented that Singapore jailed minorities mercilessly, harassed mosque leaders but let corrupt church leaders who stole S$50 million walk free, and questioned who had been paid.”
Although the comments were made in February 2018 and May this year, they were resurfaced and reports were lodged over this weekend (4 July and 5 July).
WP ADDRESSES THE MEDIA AND NETIZENS’ REACTIONS
Addressing the media this Sunday evening, Ms Raeesah said that it was never her intention to cause any social division but to raise awareness about the concerns of minorities.
“I apologise to any racial group or community who have been hurt by my comments,” she said.
“My remarks were insensitive and I regret making them.”
WP chief Pritam Singh, who was together with Ms Raeesah during the media address, said that he does not encourage and would be “a bit disappointed” if WP candidates tried to sanitise their past.
“I think they should be upfront and authentic to the public,” he added, noting that Ms Raeesah is the youngest WP candidate in the election.
Following her public apology, netizens have also took to social media to share their thoughts on the matter.
MS KHAN’S CASE WOULD NOT BE THE FIRST
While social justice warriors unite behind this young candidate with their own social media hashtag (#IStandWithRaeesah), her case would be one among others that have had to undergo police investigations, here in Singapore.
Recently, a mother and son duo were also investigated by the authorities for an Instagram Live session published containing racial slurs and vulgarities despite the alleged justifying it as “just a figure of speech”.
Prior to that, a 19-year-old Chinese permanent resident was arrested for his suspected involvement in instigating violence and posting comments on social media with the intent of wounding religious feelings. In viral screenshots of his postings, the polytechnic student described a dream where he kills members of a particular religion and claimed to have “no problem committing genocide”. His posts have since been taken down.
A case dating back to 2019 also saw a Chinese man sentenced to 13 months’ jail and nine strokes of the cane for “racially motivated vandalism”. Aside from racist graffiti, he also wrote vulgar lines in permanent marker in various public places such as void decks, sheltered walkways and on public property.
Over the years, the authorities have reiterated their firm stand on acts that can threaten racial or religious harmony in Singapore. These acts are “taken very seriously” and anyone suspected doing so “will be dealt with swiftly”. This applies all to Singaporeans, regardless of the person’s age, race or background.
Police investigations are still ongoing.
Ms Khan will continue to contest alongside her WP team comprising of Dr Jamus Lim, Ms He Ting Ru and Mr Louis Chua.
While many have taken to exercise their right to voice out on social media, netizens should be wary of the sensitivities of our multiracial context – whether you are running for public office or simply an ordinary citizen.
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