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Political shadows over academia: The disinvitation of Dr Sol Iglesias from NUS Event

Dr Sol Iglesias’ exclusion from a panel at a National University of Singapore (NUS) event raises concerns about the influence of political considerations on academic freedom in Singapore’s esteemed universities.

It is speculated that Dr Iglesias’ disinvitation is linked to her marriage to Dr Thum Ping Tjin, a prominent Singaporean historian and democracy advocate, known for his critical stance against government policies.



SINGAPORE: Dr Sol Iglesias, an assistant professor of Political Science at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, has been said to have been disinvited from a panel at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The panel, part of the “Global Research Forum: Towards a Public Asian Studies” scheduled for January 2024, was to address “Public Intellectuals, Populism and Power: Perspectives from Southeast Asia.”

Dr Iglesias’ disinvitation came after initial communications and preparations, including discussions about travel funding and logistics. On November 2, she was abruptly informed by her NUS colleague that the decision to exclude her came from “higher-ups” in the university.

No official explanation was provided, but Dr Iglesias suspects it is linked to her marriage to Dr Thum Ping Tjin, a Singaporean historian, democracy activist, and the managing editor of the independent media outlet, New Naratif.

In her Medium post on Saturday (11 Nov),  Dr Iglesias expressed her disappointment and concern, stating, “My academic freedom has been violated by NUS, part of a persistent failure of the university to protect and uphold academic freedom.”

She further elaborated on the implications of her disinvitation, “This is not just about me being disinvited; it’s a reflection of the broader pattern of NUS’s failure to respect and uphold academic freedom.”

Dr Iglesias’ case is not isolated. She refers to other instances where NUS’s commitment to academic freedom appears to be in question.

She highlighted a recent communication from the NUS president following a government-issued Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) order related to an article on government corruption. The president’s message emphasized adherence to Singapore’s laws, which critics argue could indirectly restrict academic freedom.

Another significant incident involved a 2020 webinar on “Public Discourse, Truth and Trust,” where speakers critical of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) were replaced at the last minute. The incident sparked speculations about the influence of political considerations in academic discourse.

Dr Iglesias further points to the treatment of her husband, Dr Thum, as indicative of the challenges faced by academics in Singapore.

Dr. Thum’s critical research on Singapore’s political history and his advocacy for democracy have met with significant opposition from authorities. This includes a prolonged interrogation by the Minister of Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam, at the Select Committee, during discussions on the fake news law proposal, and a subsequent police investigation after the 2020 General Elections.

Dr Iglesias noted, “PJ himself has been penalized for his work as a historian of Singapore as well as a democracy activist.”

In her call for action, Dr Iglesias urged, “I stand in solidarity with Singapore’s academics, and scholars of Singapore. I am responding to NUS’s rejection with an encouragement for NUS faculty and staff to push back when you know your freedom to decide on research, publication, and public engagement is being curtailed.”

The recent incident at NUS has once again brought to the forefront questions regarding academic freedom in Singapore, spotlighting concerns at an institution that touts itself as both global and world-class.

Dr Iglesias’ disinvitation and the surrounding circumstances point to a troubling trend where academic discourse may be influenced by non-academic considerations.

Gutzy has written to NUS for its comments and will include them when they respond.

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haha guilty by association… classic. not that the “New Naratif” guy is guilty of anything.

Bastard pap pigs! What has Thum got to do with his wife’s academic work? Why pap finger in the university pie again and again??? Hey you higher up pigs in nus! Stop infringing academic freedom and stop behaving like pigs for a moment will you?

If this Prof from 3rd World country like Pinoy land wants to work as a maid here ,she can ask her maid agent to arrange it or else her opinion whatever is definitely not needed here!
Fucking 3rd world thrash!
She go Pinoy red light cannot even be a Cat 50!😆😆😆😆😆😆

Who are they? Who are these scums who decide on their terms what is good for SG? Decide what is good to broaden our minds? Decide what is good that can sharpen our quality of life? Decide the best for our education system, when one can see whole the blame of SG malaise is THROWN at Singaporeans to BEAR, to SHOULDER, and ill prepared on tech advances and globalisation.

Is PAP the way ONLY way to TRASH, to invoke Indians as the best quality workforce of the world?

The Administration’s tactics are very simple – they just prevent dissidents to have a platform, that’s it, that’s all.

The whole of SG is their platform. They own SG. They control SG. They taunt SG = PAP, PAP = SG

Wake up bloody Sheegapore’s 60 per cent of going to be slaughtered in a pig house.

Highest pay so must be how lian, mah. LOL…

This is so embarrassing and petty. Reflects poorly on NUS as a tertiary institution. Yale, a university that is in the top, top range was also shut down. Perhaps CCS does not suit the Education Ministry and should be replaced.

“After the meeting, Dr Thum made a Facebook post saying he had asked the Malaysian leader to “take leadership inSoutheast Asia for the promotion of democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of information”. Comment: this referred to the meeting TPJ and others had with Mahathir in 2018. I had supported TPJ and was greatly disappointed that he would think to ask Mahathir to be a leader to promote “democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of information”. This (Mahathir) is well known for his jealousy and hate of Singapore and as history has shown, Mahathir would be… Read more »

The politicisation of every facet of life imaginable can be seen very easily. The finger prints are obvious.

Exposed – The “RASPUTIN” without CLOTHES!!!!!

With the confidence level at only 61% for the most expensive clowns in the world, it is understandable that they don’t want any can of worms to be possibly opened from now till (at least) the next elections. Just look at the recent Ridout and Iswara cases – pappies balls are shaking already.

Fantasy Island’s cancel culture.
The Old man invented this culture way before the western liberals even has a name for it.

Academics here suffer from ‘Wilful blindness’, an egregious disease in the Island.