New Naratif's founder Dr Thum Ping Tjin (PJ Thum) was hauled up by the police and had his electronic equipment seized. The police acted swiftly following a complaint filed by the Elections Department (ELD) accusing New Naratif of running illegal election advertisements.
The police treatment of PJ Thum has been viewed as a form of state harassment and intimidation tactics. Many netizens remain outraged by the police action taken against independent journalism, and a possible infringement into PJ Thum's rights to express his political views as a citizen.
International organisations and political parties like the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) have come to the defence of New Naratif, and their voices have just been joined by prominent civil activists like playwright Alfian Sa'at, as well as activists such as Sean Francis Han and Function 8.
Alfian Sa'at felt that the image of the police gathering at PJ Thum's office was troubling and chilling. It illustrated how overwhelming power wielded by the state and how the police are used to enforce broadly-worded laws. He also feels the image is chilling because its transmission could aid in "state terrorism" by serving as a visible warning to the public. Alfian Sa'at then shared why he looks up to PJ Thum as he is meticulous in his work with uncovering history based on previously neglected or unavailable sources.
Civil activist group Function 8 decried the mistreatment of PJ Thum as an act of harassment and called for his personal equipment to be released. The PAP was seen to be acting in an unreasonable and vindictive manner, by using taxpayers’ money to ensure its own interests and survival. The actions against New Naratif are also unnecessary given that the advertisments had minuscule to no effect since the PAP still won by a landslide during GE2020.
As of today, the police still have PJ Thum's belongings in their possession.