There is a Facebook post going viral this weekend by our Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law,
K Shanmugam, which received over 8000 likes and 3000 shares. In which, Law Minister K Shanmugam accused Workers’ Party veteran supporter Mr. Lim Ee Ping for calling him a “barking dog” in his speech.
Quoting from K Shanmugam’s Facebook post:
WP calls Mr Lee Kuan Yew a liar and me a barking dog
I found it very regrettable that at an attack was made on the late Mr #LeeKuanYew at the WP at their rally yesterday.
One of the speakers, Mr Lim Ee Ping called Mr Lee a liar who had hung onto power until he died.
For good measure he also called me a barking dog.
Because I had pointed out that the High Court had said that they had been dishonest. And that if their Town Council had been a company, it might have faced criminal sanctions. And that none of my questions on what they did had been answered.
Disappointing that the WP officially sanctions these vile personal attacks, against our founding PM who has passed away; and calling me a dog.
At the same rally Mr Gerald Giam said that they dont engage in personal attacks.
This post was later published on The Sunday Times without any attempt by the reporter, Charissa Yong, to clarify if what Shanmugam said was true.
As a result of K. Shanmugam’s accusation, Mr. Lim Ee Ping along with the Workers’ Party received a lot of vicious abuse and negative comments on that thread, calling him and them disrespectful and barbaric.
Lim Ee Ping isn’t active on social media so he is not able to speak up for himself. As a Hokkien speaker who has watched the video of his speech, I would like to speak up for this poor member of our pioneer generation who has been wrongly accused and unnecessarily abused.
1) Mr. Lim did not call Shanmugam a barking dog
Mr Lim asked Shanmugam “not to be a guard dog” (5:50 in the video). This is different from calling him a “barking dog”.
Yes in this context it is a criticism but certainly not a personal attack or similar to the level of word like “bitch”, “slut” or “bastard” and would not be classified as “vile personal attacks”
Specifically, the term he used was “door guard dog”. It is a Hokkien terminology. Like the English words “Watchdog”, “Wallflower” or “Birds of same feather”, it is not to be taken literally or as an insult on its’ own.
2) Mr. Lim’s statements about LKY are fair
If I were to do a translation of his thoughts on Lee Kuan Yew’s (9:90 in video), this is what it roughly means
“Some people say Lee Kuan Yew is good. Some others say he is bad. In my opinion, he is bad. This is because he lied to me.
I do not see how this is disrespectful. Lim also emphasized that his views of Lee Kuan Yew was his opinion. He felt that LKY cheated him. There is a difference between highlighting an incident that LKY lied to him and calling LKY a liar. One is a personal opinion and another is a statement of fact that LKY is a liar.
His statement about how LKY held on to power for a long time is also true. He made himself Senior Minister and then Minister Mentor. If this isn’t holding on to power, what is it? Isn’t this an honest and accurate reflection of history?
I think every Singaporean should be allowed to criticize Lee Kuan Yew and have a negative perception of him. Quoting this blogger who sums up his view in an article titled “The Intolerance of Grief”
But to argue (or assume) that the death of a statesman can be anything but political is a painfully naive belief. Mr. Lee wasn’t just the founder of modern Singapore – he was also the founder of the political party that currently governs Singapore. If you were to ignore Mr. Lee’s mistakes, his proclivity toward crushing his political opponents, and his disregard for liberal democratic values, then you too are guilty of using his death as a vehicle to advance political interests. There will forever be an unbreakable connection between Mr. Lee and the PAP. To laud Mr. Lee uncritically is also to strengthen the claim to performance legitimacy that the PAP so craves. To say only the good things about Mr. Lee is also to dismiss the bad things carried out under the banner of his PAP government.
For your reference, the video of Mr. Lim Ee Ping’s speech is here:
Clearly the accusation of Lim hurling “vile personal attacks” against him and WP endorsing them is false. I hope K Shanmugam can apologize for wrongly accusing an innocent person and in doing so, tarnishing Mr. Lim reputation.
Similarly, I hope that those who hurled vicious remarks against this poor old man would retract their nasty comments. It is uncalled for and this elderly man doesn’t deserve this.
In my opinion, this incident has revealed quite a few things about some Singaporeans.
Firstly, many who liked the post and hurled insults at Lim Ee Ping clearly did not even bother to watch the video or get someone who can speak Hokkien to verify if the accusations made by Shanmugam is true. It shows a blind faith in authority and that they believed what they were told without questioning or verifying facts.
Many have also failed to see the double standards in K Shanmugam’s post considering the fact that PAP candidates have recently made personal attacks about opposition candidates.
Furthermore, it is yet another example that the inability to understand dialects has caused a divide between the pioneer generation and youth today.
Many are unable to comprehend the first language of senior citizens causing grave misunderstandings like this and the elderly to be isolated from society and their own families. This is only one of the many negative effects of the policy to restrict dialects on free-to-air television which isn’t based on linguistic evidence at all.
Many have been saying there isn’t a point in reintroducing dialects as no one really speaks it. Really? If it was an irrelevant language which only an insignificant percentage of the population speaks, why are all parties spending effort to speak in dialects to win over voters? Clearly, they must constitute a significant proportion of the electorate for all this effort.
And in case anyone doubts my ability to understand Hokkien because I am only 24, here is my speech in English and Hokkien on a National Day event in August 2013. Other speakers during this event include SDP Candidate and NUS medical professor Dr. Paul Tambyah and former Presidential Candidate Tan Jee Say.
I may be a volunteer (not a member) with the Workers’ Party within my GRC. However, I hope no one misconstrues this as me trying to flame K Shanmugam. In fact, I appreciate his work with Louis Ng to speak up for animal rights.
All I wish to do is just wish to speak up for a member of our pioneer generation, Mr. Lim Ee Ping, who has been wrongly accused in this instance.
Mr. Lim is merely a victim. Both of those who accused him without verifying facts and more importantly, of our destructive language policy to restrict dialects that has resulted in several youths not able to understand dialects.
Please like and share this post if you agree with it and would like to help Mr. Lim Ee Ping clear his name.