The One about the Swedish Guy

When I read this, the cynic in me just had to ask. Johan carefully worded that his ties with NMP Siew Kum Hong were legitimate. That is I hope nothing new to readers. I am an avid supporter of the latter even more after the Aware saga and I wish that he can continue for another term. But who else did Johan meet and what kind of help was offered, if any, to these other people for the sake of assisting “democracy development”?  Unfortunately for us, Johan’s  don’t kiss and tell “politeness” stood in the way of transparency and the other parties who met Johan up to now choose to lurk in the shadows.  Looks like the matter is buried for good.  Besides the PAP, the activists are also using that “let’s move on” ploy on us.

Swedish International Liberal Centre says: We are not funding NMP
By Liew Hanqing
May 26, 2009

NETIZENS were abuzz over a meeting between him and Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Siew Kum Hong last month.

But Mr Johan Skarendal, 29, a member of the Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC), has rubbished online allegations that Mr Siew had asked for and is receiving foreign funding from his organisation.

Mr Skarendal said SILC is a foundation which assists democracy development, by supporting organisations and individuals who promote democracy and human rights.

It is affiliated to the Liberal Party, one of the four political parties in the Swedish government since 2006.

In recent weeks, Mr Siew has been the target of what seems like an organised online campaign to oppose his re-nomination as a NMP.

Flamed online

He has been flamed extensively on several forums and blogs, and has even received nasty e-mails from his detractors.

Mr Skarendal told The New Paper that though he met Mr Siew during his visit to Singapore last month, the issue of funding was never broached.

He said: ‘I met him (Mr Siew) for one hour to discuss his work in parliament, and his views on current affairs and the civil society in Singapore.’

He added that SILC is one of several Swedish organisations carrying out government policy in the democracy assistance field.

‘All of our project proposals must pass through rigorous screening and evaluation before decisions are made to fund a project,’ he said.

He stressed that Mr Siew did not ask about the possibility of funding, and neither did he mention the possibility to Mr Siew.

‘The current allegations against him are clearly nothing but hot air with the intent to defame him, and as such are criminal in nature,’ Mr Skarendal said.

When contacted, Mr Siew declined comment as he has already made a police report.

In an 18 May entry on his blog (siewkumhong.blogspot.com), Mr Siew wrote: ‘I did not at any time ask for, and have not at any time been offered or accepted, any sort of funding from any local or foreign entity, including the Swedish politician named in the latest attack.

‘The only sources of income (or funding) that I have, are my employer and the Government of Singapore (in the form of my monthly NMP allowance).’

He quashed online allegations of links with the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).

Mr Siew described the latest attacks as going ‘beyond anything that a reasonable person could possibly perceive as being a valid or legitimate exercise of the right to free speech.’

He added that he would not tolerate the latest wave of ‘character assassination’ from ‘cowards hiding behind the perceived anonymity of the Internet’.

Mr Skarendal said his latest visit to Singapore was with Mr Henrik Ehrenberg, head of the allied Christian Democratic International Center.

They met with several ‘human rights defenders and civil society members’, but Mr Skarendal declined to say who, because it would be ‘impolite’ to do so.

He confirmed that he had met with SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan during the recent visit. They first met in February 2003 when Dr Chee visited Sweden.

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Mas Selamat’s Capture: Some Face Gained, Some Face Lost

The facts are slowing being leaked to tease all and everybody is joining the dance. The Malaysians since Friday are releasing bit by tantalising bit. At this point, we know that Mas Selamat was caught sleeping in Skudai (he is also complacent), and he swam over from Singapore using a still undisclosed flotation device (coast guard is going to face the music) and at least 2 people aided him (the JI bunch is still active). The Malaysians arrested him last month and both governments kept the matter under wraps so that they could observe and nab as many Jemaah Islamiah cadres as they could when the time came.

What was not said is what information was provided by Singapore that led to this manhunt closure. We can only guess that Mas Selamat must have finally somehow told his family members in Singapore that he is safe. And word got around eventually (remember there is a huge reward), leading to his recapture on 1 April. However, we will never know the truth.

Mohammad Hassan Saynudin, Mas Selamat’s comrade-in-arms who is jailed in Indonesia, verified Mas Selamat’s commitment and plan to attack Singapore, and when the Malaysians swooped in, the escapee was already plotting some lethal mischief. Singaporeans should be relieved that the joint operation between Malaysia and Singapore paid off. Although I might be mistaken, I don’t think it is a case of one government snatching credit from the other as some bloggers have accused. Provoking Malaysia now would not be in Singapore’s interest as the Malaysians can choose to reveal embarrassing information about the Singapore escape if they are backed into a corner. Hence, Gerald Giam was a bit unfair by speculating that Singapore forcefully took the credit for the capture. Unsurprisingly, it is common for bloggers to jump at any action the government did or did not do as against public interest anyway.

Nevertheless, the revelation of Mas Selamat’s swim across the straits show that PCG might have been sleeping on the job. This is one of the many humiliating questions that will come up as bits and pieces of how Mas Selamat escaped is released by Malaysia in the coming days. Wong Kan Seng should brace himself for impact.