Singapore

My first apology was insincere: Donald Low to Shanmugam

My first apology was insincere: Donald Low to Shanmugam
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Associate Dean Donald Low (right) has apologised for a second time to Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam (left). Photos: TODAY, Screencap from Donald Low's Facebook page
Published: 4:00 AM, May 11, 2017

SINGAPORE — Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy associate dean Donald Low has apologised “unreservedly” to Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam — his second apology in less than two weeks — for a Facebook post on the minister’s comments.

Assoc Prof Low said in his latest post on Tuesday night that his initial apology, which came after he was called out for misconstruing remarks the minister had made during a recent TODAY interview, was “insincere and self-exculpatory”.

He added that in his initial apology on April 28, he had “tried to claim I was commenting on the headline and not his remarks, when my comments clearly showed otherwise”.

“When I sent the apology, to make my apology appear true, I also deleted some comments I had made in my (Facebook), which showed that I was in fact commenting on his remarks,” said Assoc Prof Low.

The academic had shared the TODAY article on April 24, stating that “making laws on the basis of public opinion is populism by another name”.

In a Facebook post on April 27, Mr Shanmugam said: “Others, such as Donald Low, claim that ‘making laws on the basis of public opinion is populism by another name’, and that ‘if criminal punishments are to reflect only public opinion’, one may as well ‘just run an opinion poll each time someone has been convicted’.

The minister added: “Academics, like Donald, have every right to criticise statements made by others, in particular on issues of public importance.

“But to be meaningful, and sensible, it will be first useful to read and understand what has been said, before jumping in to criticise.

“Otherwise the commentator does no credit to himself or his institution. Particularly an institution which carries Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s name.”

The next day, the academic put up his apology, stating that his post was “mostly a reaction to the headline of the TODAY article, which I thought didn’t represent your position accurately”.

“I had read the piece in full, but didn’t give your comments sufficient attention in my post. I apologise for that,” he had said.

Now, Assoc Prof Low has admitted to misrepresenting Mr Shanmugam’s views in the TODAY article, adding that his original critique was made in a “sneering tone”.

“I accept that my criticism of your views was untruthful, unfair and unsubstantiated. I have let the LKY School down. But above all, I’m sorry for my original post; it was impulsive and reckless,” he said.

He added that Mr Shanmugam had, in 2012, offered help when he was out of a job by putting in a “good word” with the LKY School of Public Policy.

“I decided that I should come clean about someone who had in fact helped me, and I should set out the facts in public,” said Assoc Prof Low.