11 April 2019
Dear President (Name) and (University) Board of Trustees,
On behalf of my fellow signatories, I am sharing with you the letter below that we have sent to Minister Ong Ye Kung, and NMPs Sun Sun Lim and Walter Theseira, expressing our concern about the impact that Singapore’s proposed Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (2019) will have on our profession globally, and specifically on Singapore universities and research. Minister Ong and Prof. Theseira have acknowledged receipt and we are hopeful that they will follow up on our concerns.
All the current signatories were individually invited by other signatories to contribute to and sign the letter, and are Asian Studies scholars familiar (to varying extents) with Singapore. We focused on inviting only senior and tenured scholars, all of whom are signing in their individual capacities, not necessarily as representatives of their institutions or professional associations. However, many are prominent in their respective fields: they include the current and four past Presidents of the Association for Asian Studies, the world’s largest and premier scholarly association for academics who study Asia; one is the Secretary-General of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities; many are or have been department chairs, and directors of university centers and institutes on Asian and international affairs.
Our signatories work in a range of institutions, from large research universities to small liberal arts colleges, in many different countries. Besides those who conduct research on Singapore, the group includes individuals who have received full professor offers at Singapore universities, been distinguished visitors there, served on Singapore university Visiting Committees, and sat on various Singapore institutions’ external advisory boards. Several of those at overseas institutions are Singaporeans. All are motivated by deep concern for the future of scholarship worldwide, and its contribution to human knowledge and well-being, particularly but not only in Asia.
We hope this letter will be useful to you in your own deliberations about POFMA and its impact on your university and on Singapore academia and academics. At the moment we are sharing it only with the boards of trustees of all the autonomous universities, but may eventually circulate it more widely to other academics and others affected by the act.