The chairman of the Association of Muslim Professionals said about Nizam Ismail, its former director, that “it was difficult for Mr Nizam to separate what he did in his personal capacity from what he did as an AMP director.”
He was referring to Mr Nizam’s participation as a speaker in the population White Paper protest in February at Speakers’ Corner, and also for speaking at a Workers’ Party forum several weeks ago.
Can anyone who holds a position such as Mr Nizam’s also be able to speak in his personal capacity? Apparently, he can, in fact – going by the disclaimers which PAP ministers and MPs themselves use when they indeed speak in their personal capacities at public events.
So, the obvious question is: where is the distinction between personal and not-personal? PAP ministers and MPs, from time to time, have claimed to be speaking only in their personal capacities – “my personal view” – even when they speak about national issues or issues which would affect a large portion of Singaporeans.
Here are three examples:
Khaw Boon Wan, 2006 (on nursing homes for elderly):
“My personal view is, our land is expensive. But we have nearby neighbours in Johore, Batam and Bintan. The elderly want to reach their doctors within half to one hour…”
K Shanmugam, 2002 (on race relations):
“I would add that these are only my personal views, and others may well disagree….”
Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, 2012:
“Comrades, my personal belief is that the middle class plays a crucial role in driving the heart of our nation’s social, economic and political processes.”
So, PAP members can speak in their personal capacities while others cannot?