Singapore Management University Associate Professor of Law Eugene Tan has been condemned for his comments on national serviceman on Polling Day for the recently-concluded presidential elections.
Tan appeared on the CNA Polling Day special as a guest “analyst”.
About an hour and 26 minutes into the show, he was asked by show host Dawn Tan about his views on presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian’s comments that Singaporeans prefer to have a president and “First Lady” who are Singaporeans and born in Singapore.
Tan Kin Lian was referring to the partners of the other 2 presidential candidates, Tharman and Ng Kok Song, who both were not born in Singapore but took up citizenship here.
Responding to the question, Tan said:
“I think it’s desperate, in my view, to put it rather bluntly. For me it was one of the low points. It ignores the fact that both Mr Tharman’s and Mr Ng’s spouse and partner respectively are citizens, and not just recent citizens.”
He carried on, saying:
“So if we start to differentiate between citizens, whether you’re born here or not born here, whether you’ve done NS or not done NS, I think we are going into very fine distinctions. And the reality is Singapore continues to be an immigrant society.”
Tan added that Tan Kin Lian’s comments are a “minus point” for him, and would not resonate with Singaporeans.
But before he could finish his response, Tan was abruptly cut off by the second host of the show, Otelli Edwards, who said that the show was headed for a commercial break.
Many Singaporeans, especially those who served National Service, have called for Tan to apologise for his comments, saying that he has belittled their sacrifice.
Some have gone to the extent of calling him a “traitor”.
Said a Jason Ho:
“It’s clear here that he was comparing between New Citizens and Singaporeans, not about men and women or whatsoever. If he’s saying there shouldn’t be a difference between a New Citizen male who didn’t do NS and a Singaporean who did, then he is talking one hell lot of cock.”
Said a Paul Chan:
“This is an extremely stupid comment to make and very disrespectful to us who have done our 2 years, plus reservist.”
Recently, MINDEF was criticised for inviting Senior Minister of State Janil Puthucheary to be Guest of Honour for the 56th Specialist Cadet Graduation Parade.
Angry Singaporeans felt that Dr Janil, a New Citizen who never served national service should not have been given such an honour.