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Progress S’pore Party expels member behind NUS Atheist Society Facebook post

SINGAPORE — Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Jan Chan was expelled from the opposition party on Saturday night (March 21) after he admitted to The Straits Times that he was indeed the person who crafted a Facebook post that is now the subject of a police investigation.

Progress S’pore Party expels member behind NUS Atheist Society Facebook post

Mr Jan Chan (second from left) walking the ground with other Progress Singapore Party members in Teban Gardens in January, 2020.

SINGAPORE — Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Jan Chan was expelled from the opposition party on Saturday night (March 21) after he admitted to The Straits Times that he was indeed the person who crafted a Facebook post that is now the subject of a police investigation.

The expulsion came less than a day after the party told TODAY that it would be suspending the 30-year-old technology consultant’s membership with immediate effect while it conducted internal investigations on the matter.

Before getting involved in PSP, Mr Chan — who studied in Raffles Junior College and the National University of Singapore (NUS) — was the National Solidarity Party’s organising secretary.

The post, made on the NUS Atheist Society Facebook page, depicted the Bible and Quran as alternatives to be used in the event of a toilet-paper shortage. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Friday that the police are investigating it after receiving a number of complaints.

TODAY understands that when the party, headed by Dr Tan Cheng Bock, former People’s Action Party Member of Parliament, approached Mr Chan earlier on Saturday, he denied any involvement in the post.

However, later in the day, Mr Chan – who had been in the party’s photos on social media and walked the ground in the party’s polo T-shirt – told The Straits Times that he “never expected the unintended backlash” and regrets making the post.

PSP’s statement on Saturday night said: “Following internal investigations into the matter and his subsequent admission to The Straits Times that he was indeed the person who posted it, our party has decided on the immediate expulsion of Mr Jan Chan Lin from the party.”

It added that PSP will not tolerate any of its members showing disrespect for any religion, pointing out that it “highly values the multi-racial and multi-religious society that is Singapore”.

PSP’s earlier statement stressed that the party is not linked to the NUS Atheist Society, adding: “Progress Singapore Party views the behaviour of all our members very seriously and will endeavour to ensure that all members keep within the boundaries of the law.”

When MHA announced police investigation into the post on Friday, it noted that it had called on Facebook to disable access to the post in question, and Facebook agreed to do so.

The ministry also urged the public to be mindful when participating in online discussions and not post any remarks which are prejudicial to the maintenance of racial and religious harmony in Singapore.

“Online hate speech on race and religion has no space in Singapore,” it added.

But after Facebook limited access to the post at 10.39am on Friday, NUS Atheist Society posted a screenshot of the notification from the social media platform, together with the caption: “Thanks for convicting us of thoughtcrime. Therefore, please use these discretely during times of toilet paper crisis.”

Separately, the National University of Singapore (NUS) issued a statement on Friday to clarify that the NUS Atheist Society is not affiliated to the university.

It said that it had reported the page to Facebook last year and again on March 19, but Facebook responded to say only that its content "does not appear likely to confuse people as to source, sponsorship or affiliation" and was unable to act.

"We will continue pressing Facebook to get the group to drop all references to NUS," the university added.

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Progress Singapore Party NUS Atheist Society Facebook police NUS

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