Singapore has invoked its foreign interference law against Philip Chan Man Ping, a 59-year-od Hong Kong-born businessman and naturalized Singaporean. The Ministry of Home Affairs has assessed Chan as being susceptible to foreign influence and willing to advance their interests.
WHO IS PHILIP CHAN
Chan, who immigrated to Singapore over 30 years ago, has a strong background in the property sector, with more than 20 years of experience. He currently holds positions as the managing director of Wen Way Investments and Mutual Benefits Realty, as well as the chief executive officer at C&H Properties.
Chan founded China Link Education Consultancy, an organization that aims to nurture better understanding and appreciation towards China among young people and those interested in doing business in China. The consultancy organizes courses covering various topics such as Chinese politics, economic development, and customs.
Additionally, Chan holds key positions in several community organizations. He is the president of the Hong Kong Singapore Business Association, which fosters connections between the business communities of Singapore, Hong Kong, and China. He is also the president of the Kowloon Club, which helps new immigrants integrate into Singaporean society.
As per the online reports, Chan was extended an invitation to participate in China’s Two Sessions parliamentary meetings in March 2023, which is considered the most crucial political event of the year in the country. He received the invite from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) as an “overseas Chinese representative,” along with 29 other representatives from various parts of the globe.
Chan has been involved in grassroots movements and community initiatives. As a patron of the Kampong Chai Chee Citizens’ Consultative Committee and the Bukit Timah Community Club management committee, he actively contributed to community development. He also served as a member of SPD’s resource mobilization and partnerships committee, a charitable organization.
However, Chan’s involvement in a public assembly discussing the protests over Hong Kong’s extradition bill without a permit in October 2019 led to a warning from the police. This incident likely piqued authorities’ interest regarding his susceptibility to external influences.
Chan’s primary focus has been promoting China’s story and traditional Chinese culture among overseas Chinese communities. He believes it is the responsibility of overseas Chinese to counter Western media’s negative portrayal of China and to unite in spreading the truth. He also emphasized the importance of young people, regardless of ethnicity, gaining a deeper understanding of China and its culture.
In an interview with Chinese Headline New Media, Philip Chan highlighted the importance of countering disinformation and promoting China’s narrative in the global arena. As an overseas Chinese, Chan believes that China often faces a disadvantage in the war of public opinion due to distorted narratives spread by Western media outlets.
“Different media outlets hold different positions, and there are differences in their reports of the same news”, he said.
Furthermore, he emphasized that these Western countries have misrepresented China’s actions and intentions. For example, China’s assertive and more assertive diplomatic approach has been demonized as “wolf warrior diplomacy.”
Additionally, terms like “debt traps” have been employed to portray China’s Belt and Road initiative in a negative light.
“For example, despite China’s outstanding and exemplary contributions during the global flight against Covid-19, we see more foreign news media discrediting China’s fight against the epidemic.”
“The Western media has discredited China considerably. I believe that we cannot solely rely on the official messages conveyed by Chinese diplomats in public,” he said.
“We should put more effort in mobilising righteous individuals overseas who dare to speak up for justice, to get them to join the ranks of spreading truths and exposing the hypocrisy of fake news from the West.”
‘I believe it is more convincing and effective, and thus very important, that we turn their weapons against them’, he added.
– Philip Chan in an interview.
Chan believes it is the responsibility of overseas Chinese to promote and preserve Chinese culture. He has published articles in Singapore’s Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao but acknowledges his limited influence.
As per the report, Singapore’s Chinese language daily Lianhe Zaobao has published 25 articles by Mr Chan, written under his Chinese name, from 2016 to 2019.
These articles included letters, columns, and other pieces covering topics such as filial piety, Cantonese pop music, and his experience as an immigrant from Hong Kong.
Mr Chan began contributing articles to Lianhe Zaobao in April 2011, primarily in his capacity as the President of the Kowloon Club. The Kowloon Club is a non-profit organization established in 1990, comprised of overseas immigrants, mostly from Hong Kong. His last published article was in May 2019, and most of his articles were featured in the Crossroads section of Zaobao Fukan, which includes rotating guest contributors.
Additionally, Mr Chan contributed an article to the opinion section and another to the forum section of Zaobao.
While he has been publishing articles in Singapore, he feels that his individual efforts are limited. Therefore, he believes that it is crucial for the overseas Chinese community to come together and form an alliance. He suggests organizing an annual conference with the support of overseas Chinese affairs offices to facilitate exchanges and understanding among representatives from around the world. The goal is to unite and continue contributing to the positive portrayal of China, he added in an interview.
“Since we can only do little alone, we therefore need to be more united,” he said.
“It is our duty as overseas Chinese to tell China’s story well, and to both spread and pass on the marvellous traditional Chinese culture while we are abroad,” he was also quoted as saying in an interview with Chinese language website Huaren Toutiao in March last year.
Additionally, he urges the Chinese government to create a simplified guide for overseas publicity to spread Chinese culture abroad. Chan also encourages young people of all ethnicities to develop a deeper understanding of China, emphasizing the importance of visiting the country to truly comprehend its rapid development and culture. He sent his two sons to Beijing and Shanghai for internships, and they gained a renewed understanding of their ancestral country.
The Registrar of Foreign and Political Disclosures plans to designate Chan Man Ping Philip as a Politically Significant Person (PSP) under the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act. Chan has been assessed to have susceptibility to foreign influence and a willingness to advance their interests.
If designated, Chan would be required to disclose political donations, foreign affiliations, and migration benefits annually. Chan has 14 days to submit representations to the Registrar, and if designated, he can appeal to the Minister for Home Affairs. The designation aims to detect and prevent foreign interference in Singapore’s politics.
According to MHA’s press release, as a designated Politically Significant Person (PSP), Chan would be required to disclose the following to the Registrar annually :
(i) political donations of $10,000 or more that he receives and accepts,
(ii) foreign affiliations, and
(iii) migration benefits. These transparency requirements would help to detect and prevent any foreign interference directed towards a political end in Singapore.
In light of Singapore’s invocation of the foreign interference law, Chan has 14 days to make representations to the registrar. If designated a politically significant person, he will have the option to appeal to Minister for Home Affairs, K Shanmugam, against the registrar’s decision.
This development has raised questions about the extent of foreign influence in Singapore and underscores the government’s commitment to safeguarding national security and interests. As the case unfolds, it will be crucial to monitor the implications of this invocation of the foreign interference law on the broader overseas Chinese community in Singapore and their activities.
Images via Internet
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