New Naratif founder PJ Thum shares experience of “disquieting” police interrogation

Singapore – New Naratif’s founder and managing director PJ Thum took to social media to share his recent experience with the authorities, noting he was interrogated for four and a half hours and the ordeal was a “disquieting” one.
The incident is said to be linked to a report lodged against New Naratif by the Elections Department (ELD). “On Sept 18, the ELD released a press statement stating that the Assistant Returning Officer had filed a police report against New Naratif and alleged that New Naratif published ‘paid advertisements that amounted to the illegal conduct of election activity under s83(2) of the Parliamentary Elections Act (PEA) during the recent 2020 General Election,'” New Naratif explained in its website on Sept 19.
The statement noted “Multiple experts and observers, including the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), have previously questioned the independence of the ELD and its politicisation as part of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), and condemned Singapore’s Elections as ‘neither free nor fair.'”
On Monday (Sept 21), Mr Thum uploaded a video of himself noting he was being questioned at the Clementi Police Station for the lodged police report. In a follow-up video, Mr Thum spoke of his experience and assured his followers that he was “okay and safe.”
He thanked everyone for the support and kind messages extended as he went through the ordeal. “I am truly so grateful for all the support and really touched by how much support has been extended to me,” said Mr Thum.
“It wasn’t a good experience. It was four and a half hours of interrogation. They seized my phone. Then they escorted me back here to where I live, to take my laptop. It’s never a good feeling when the place that you live is invaded. It is definitely very disquieting. But fortunately, that’s all over now.”
Mr Thum reiterated that “this was an abuse of the law by the PMO and the ELD.” He condemned the “continued abuse of the law to intimidate and harass activists and independent media in Singapore.”
Mr Thum urged for the incumbent party’s administration “to stop harassing independent media and critics of the government.”
The New Naratif post also included a link for those interested in supporting the “movement for democracy, freedom of information, and freedom of expression in Southeast Asia.”
According to a Singapore Police Force (SPF) statement to mothership.sg, the alleged interrogation was a “scheduled police interview” conducted as part of police investigations. “In response to media queries, the Police confirm that Mr Thum Ping Tjin attended a scheduled police interview at Clementi Police Division on Sept 21 2020. As part of police investigations into New Naratif for alleged breaches of the Parliamentary Elections Act, Mr Thum’s mobile phone and laptop were seized for forensic examination,” the SPF noted in their statement.
A message from New Naratif’s founder and managing director, PJ Thum.
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