Until the 16th of November, the NSP (Nicole Seah excepted, and she has been keeping a low profile for sometime) had a very low Internet profile. Things have changed because three persons openly associated with the NSP have played leading roles in two of the three “sedition” complaints (three in the space of five days) made to the police asking the police to investigate whether “sedition” had been committed. All three complaints have been well publicised and commented on on the Internet (including Facebook) with most “voices” “hammering” Neo, the Young PAP and the PAP, and Donaldson.
That the three leading complainants in the drama were NSP supporters, and that NSP released a statement* on one of the three incidents were also well publicised. But there was very little comment on their association with the NSP, none of which was negative of the NSP.
This posting is about whether the public’s views of the NSP could change even though it is clear that no-one reasonably thinks that these actions were sanctioned, approved or pre-planned by the leadership of the NSP or its Malay Section.
Noor Firdaus (the exposer of Jason Neo) is, according to a Yahoo! report, “a volunteer with opposition National Solidarity Party (NSP)”. Note that on Facebook there is a “Firdaus Venezio (Noor Firdaus Abdul Samad)” who says his political views are aligned with those of those of the NSP.
But the circumstances surrounding the exposing of Neo were strange.Neo’s Facebook’s “friends” had pointed out in March 2011 that he was wrong . He had then explained that it was not meant to be taken seriously, and had apologised. That he should have removed the picture is beyond doubt. But as none of his “friends” had thought it necessary to advise, suggest or demand that he remove the post, I suspect, he thought he had done enough to “purge” himself of his mistake.
When Firdaus saw the image sometime in November, and complained to Neo, Neo apologised again and took down the image. It could have ended there.
But Firdaus made copies of the image and spread it on the Internet: after the original had disappeared. He sent it to various PAP MPS (Neo was a member of the Young PAP), TOC and NSP member Abdul Salim. Abdul Salim was quoted by TOC as saying: “I have just make a Police report against Jason Neo Tiong Yap. Was updated by the officers on duty that the Principal of HUDA Kindergarten has also lodge a report early in the afternoon.”
Then one Amran Junid was unhappy with a Facebook post of one Donaldson Tan. He made a police report, and told TOC about it. TOC, in turn, wrote a story on the matter. According to the New Asia Republic (which Donaldson Tan founded and where he is an editor), “Checks on Amran’s background have shown that he is closely linked with an opposition party, the National Solidarity Party …”.
I never did think these actions were sanctioned, approved or pre-planned by the leadership of the NSP or its Malay Section, but were the individuals’ initiative.
A cynic could reasonably conclude that, given their association with the NSP, Firdaus and Abdul Salim could be trying to score political points by damaging the reputations of the Young PAP, PAP and the government. And raising their party’s profile to boot. Politics is a dirty game. Other more personal motivations could have be dreamt up by a cynic too.
But netizens know that NSP supporters were prime actors in these actions.
Whether the publicity is beneficial, or not, for the NSP has yet to be seen. For a party often perceived to be Chinese-based, the high Internet profile of three non-Chinese NSP activists could change perceptions of the party, and attract more non-Chinese supporters. The party has Malay and Indian Bureaus to focus on the specific needs and concerns of S’porean Malays and Indians.
But it does seem strange that people associated with a party that Firdaus calls “Libertarians” resort to “flaming” or making police reports because their feelings were hurt. These supporters do not seem to be aligned with libertarian principles, as I understand them to be. Worse for the NSP, their actions could be seen by many voters as irresponsible, disproportionate, reckless and possibly causing more harm than the original misdeeds they were trying to highlight.
All of which goes to show the wisdom of the WP in being very careful and cautious in accepting new members and “volunteers’.
As Nicile Seah is in PR and is the people’s poster gal of what a young activist is all about, she could lead NSP’s efforts to make sure that its members and supporters are “on message” and that other S’poreans get the “right” impression of the NSP?
Let me be clear, I
- don’t condone what Neo and Donaldson did;
- say they were wrong and irresponsible to do what they did;
- think the actions of Abdul Salim and Amran Junid were not an appropriate response to the original misdeeds;
- say Firdaus was irresponsible and reckless, and his actions were not an appropriate response to Neo’s misdeed; and
- have no issues with TOC covering the stories, or the way TOC handled them. News is news.
And, for the record, I know and like the core team members of TOC; and I help out occasionally in subbing, and non-editorial matters.
Finally, I have more reflections on this issue, which I plan to blog next week. Still reflecting.
*I, and others, were wondering why NSP issued the statement until it became clear that Firdaus was an NSP supporter.