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Man who sent racially divisive WhatsApp messages before GE2020 jailed, fined

SINGAPORE — A 52-year-old man who sent messages promoting ill will between racial groups about a month before the 2020 General Election (GE) was jailed for two weeks and fined S$7,000 on Monday (Feb 8). It is believed to be the first prosecution of its type.

Sirajudeen Abdul Majeed pleaded guilty to one count of promoting ill will between racial groups and one count of uttering words intending to wound the racial feelings of a person.

Sirajudeen Abdul Majeed pleaded guilty to one count of promoting ill will between racial groups and one count of uttering words intending to wound the racial feelings of a person.

  • Sirajudeen Abdul Majeed sent an image he had received with incorrect information about the racial composition of voters in Marymount SMC
  • He claimed that the image showed that the ruling People’s Action Party was trying to “dilute” the Malay race in Singapore
  • He received the image from a WhatsApp chat group called “PSP MM Ground Group”
  • Later, he made racially charged remarks to a police officer

 

SINGAPORE — A 52-year-old man who sent messages promoting ill will between racial groups about a month before the 2020 General Election (GE) was jailed for two weeks and fined S$7,000 on Monday (Feb 8). It is believed to be the first prosecution of its type.

Sirajudeen Abdul Majeed, who works in construction, had sent a WhatsApp image with false information about the racial composition of voters in the Marymount Single Member Constituency (SMC) to three men on June 13 last year, less than two weeks before the July 10 election date was called.

Accompanying the image, he wrote: “It seems the PAP (People’s Action Party) wants to make the Malay community a sub-minority. But the Malays were the original residents of Singapore… By adding more new China, Indian, Filipino (and) others to... just dilute the original race of Malay?”

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tessa Tan said that Sirajudeen, a Singaporean of Indian ethnicity, had sent the messages to create awareness of what he perceived to be a strategy used by the PAP in the GE.

“The accused’s messages... when read collectively, convey his intent to stoke fears that the PAP Government was seeking to marginalise the Malays in the country by allowing more immigrants into the country,” she said.

Sirajudeen pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of promoting ill will between racial groups and one count of uttering words intending to wound the racial feelings of a person. Two similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

In sentencing submissions, the prosecutors noted that the case appears to be the first prosecution under Section 298(A) of the Penal Code, which deals with the offence of promoting ill will between different racial groups.

‘PSP MM GROUND GROUP’

The court heard that Sirajudeen had received the image of the racial composition of voters in Marymount SMC from a chat group called “PSP MM Ground Group” on mobile messenger WhatsApp on June 12.

The chat group purportedly shared information on the activities and strategies for the GE, DPP Tan said.

Court documents did not state whether “PSP” referred to Progress Singapore Party, one of the new political parties that contested during the election.

Investigations showed that the polling district boundaries in the image and the figures used for the registered voters in the constituency were not accurate. The Elections Department did not publish the breakdown of electors by race.

The next day, Sirajudeen sent the image and the messages to three Singaporean men — Mr Mohammad Azri Jumuri, 32; Mr Desmond Samad alias Shahrin B Samad, 46; and Mr Mohammad Helmy Abdul Kadir, 43 — and asked them to forward the messages to others.

He had gotten to know Mr Desmond Samad and Mr Mohammad Helmy from his work in construction. Court documents did not state his relationship with Mr Mohammad Azri.

The three men, however, did not send the image and messages to anyone else. Two days later, on June 15, Mr Mohammad Azri made a police report stating that he had received a WhatsApp message that was spreading racism.

MADE RACIST REMARKS TO POLICE OFFICERS

In another incident on Aug 5 last year, Sirajudeen made a police complaint about his neighbour.

Two policemen, Station Inspector Muhammad Fadzalie Hafit and Sergeant 2 Uthaman Batu Malek, arrived to attend to the dispute but Sirajudeen was unhappy with how they handled the complaint.

Sirajudeen later made two 999 calls to the police to complain about the two policemen’s conduct, saying that the officers, “especially the Malay officer”, engaged in “unprofessional conduct” and made other racially charged comments.

When the officer who picked up the phone call, Mr Muhammad Huzaimi Salim, asked Sirajudeen to verify his contact number — as was the standard procedure — Sirajudeen said: “I assume you are (of) Malay origin, is it, sir?”

He added: “I know lah. Usually, that’s the case... No worries, no worries. I wouldn’t blame you, sir.”

During investigations, Sirajudeen told police officers that most officers he encountered who were of “this denomination” were “unprofessional” and tended to display “bad attitude”.

In a district court on Monday, Sirajudeen said that he was drunk when he made the remarks and asked for leniency as his child has special needs. He was not represented by a lawyer.

District Judge Salina Ishak noted that the messages sent may cause friction and conflict between racial groups in multicultural Singapore, which cannot be taken lightly in the current domestic and international security climate.

She added that the messages were sent during the especially sensitive and racially charged period nearing the GE last year, which could have led to a significant uproar in Singapore.

“It was fortuitous that the recipients had not chosen to forward the images and the accompanying captions and instead chose to report it to the authorities,” she said.

For promoting ill will between different racial groups, Sirajudeen could have been jailed for three years or fined, or punished with both. For uttering words with deliberate intention of wounding the racial feelings of a person, he could have been jailed for three years or fined, or both.

Related topics

Singapore General Election WhatsApp court crime race

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