Tian Chua: "This is factual."
KUALA LUMPUR: An article that appeared in Singapore’s Straits Times on September 25th has attracted attention in the Malaysian blogosphere, not just because of what was said in the article itself but also because of Singaporeans’ reactions to it.
The article highlighted remarks made by Malaysian MP Chua Tian Chang -- popularly known as Tian Chua -- regarding Singapore’s Internal Security Act. Speaking at a forum organised by Singaporeans for Democracy, Chua stated his belief that Singapore faces “tremendous pressure” to repeal its own ISA following in the footsteps of the Malaysian government.
“The ISA experience through these 40 years in Malaysia and Singapore,” he was quoted as saying, “is a process of the nation overcoming our own fears and phobias.”
The article attracted dozens of comments, most of them critical of Chua.
“If MP Tian Chua is afraid in his home country he should be talking to his Government and not overstep his boundary,” said one comment. “Singapore surely doesn’t need him to tell us what to do and what is right for us.”
Another comment said, “Now that's interesting…shouldn’t Mr. TC be concern [sic] about the Malaysian ISA instead of Singapore's? The leaders of Singapore can handle pressures very well, in case Mr. TC lost touch.”
The article was subsequently highlighted in Malaysian blog Tenggara is Southeast, which displayed several comments from the article ridiculing Chua. That post was reprinted in popular Malaysian blog The Unspinners, giving it wider exposure north of the causeway.
When contacted by The Mole for verification, Tian Chua confirmed that he had made the statements attributed to him in the Straits Times article, but stressed that he was stating facts, not making suggestions.
“I am not talking about what the Singapore government should do,” he told The Mole. “I’m stating the fact that Najib announced the Emergency was ended and the ISA abolished. The Singapore government, too, is under pressure due to the close proximity of the neighbours.”
“This is factual,” he added. “I didn’t say once that since Malaysia abolished (the ISA), Singapore should follow.”