Ex-election candidate Shamsul Kamar says intention over Workers’ Party meme was ‘misunderstood’

At left, Shamsul Kamar in a 2015 photo and the meme featuring Sarah Bagharib, the bride in cutout standee controversy, at right. Photos: Shamsul Kamar/Facebook, Fabrications about the PAP/Facebook
At left, Shamsul Kamar in a 2015 photo and the meme featuring Sarah Bagharib, the bride in cutout standee controversy, at right. Photos: Shamsul Kamar/Facebook, Fabrications about the PAP/Facebook

A former election candidate’s attempt to politicize the recent cutout standee saga has gotten some backlash after he shared a photo of what appears to be the wrong person. 

Shamsul Kamar, who lost in last year’s election while running under the ruling People’s Action Party, responded to the backlash today by fending off critics who called him out for sharing a meme that featured Singaporean woman Sarah Bagharib against photos of Workers’ Party members, including an unknown person who resembled her. 

Many had called on him to retract his post, publish a correction for possibly identifying Sarah as a member of the political party, and issue an apology. 

But Sarah was not the point of his post, according to Shamsul. 

“I’m sorry that it seems many misunderstood my key intention of sending the message to everyone that we need to stand united rather than divisive, especially during this period of the pandemic,” he told Mothership today. “I did not (mention) that it was Sarah nor anyone else and it didn’t cross my mind to do so.”

Neither Shamsul nor Sarah immediately responded to Coconuts’ request for comment. 

Shamsul yesterday shared the meme by pro-People’s Action Party page Fabrications about the PAP, with the caption: “For all to decide… Everything happens for a reason but let’s not be divisive.”

It soon drew comments criticizing him for sharing “fake news.” Some demanded that he remove it and apologize to Sarah, who was recently at the center of a dispute with the People’s Association after the latter misused her wedding photo.

Social media page Wake Up, Singapore said yesterday that the unknown Workers’ Party member has come forward to identify herself.  Screenshots of chat exchanges also showed that she has contacted Shamsul to remove the post and publish a correction. 

Among those who commented on Shamsul’s Facebook page was user Gwendolyn Oh, who said: “Take this down and apologise. This post perpetuates fake news and has caused a lot of distress to the woman mistakenly identified in the photo.”

Another named Zhen Kai Giam said: “Dude you posted fake news, after getting called out on it you’re doubling down on this???” 

Sarah made headlines in recent weeks after the People’s Association stat board stole her wedding photo and turned it into a cutout standee for Hari Raya decorations in Radin Mas. After initially apologizing over the incident, the board called off a meeting between both parties after it disapproved of Sarah linking its culturally insensitive mistake to racism. 

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CITY: SINGAPORECATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: POLITICS

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