'My first apology was insincere': Donald Low to Shanmugam


The academic apologised a second time on Wednesday (May 10) for a Facebook post criticising the Home Affairs and Law Minister’s comments that penalties for crime must reflect public opinion.

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Associate Dean Donald Low. (Photo: Donald Low / Facebook)

SINGAPORE: Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Associate Dean Donald Low apologised yet again to Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam on Wednesday (May 10) for a Facebook post on the minister’s comments that penalties for crime must reflect public opinion, calling his initial apology on the issue “insincere”.

In an exclusive interview with TODAY last month, Mr Shanmugam said that the Government must pay heed to how society feels about the punishment meted out in criminal cases. “But it doesn’t mean automatically you agree with it. You must assess it, whether it is also fair. So there are two parts to it – one, whether it is fair; two, what does the public believe is right.”

Mr Low shared the TODAY article on his Facebook page that same day, stating that “making laws on the basis of public opinion is populism by another name”.

Mr Shanmugam soon responded, saying the economist had “seriously misconstrued” what he had said.

A day later, Mr Low apologised in a second post, saying that his initial comments were “mostly a reaction” to the headline of the TODAY article which he thought did not represent Mr Shanmugam’s position accurately. “I had read the piece in full, but didn’t give your comments sufficient attention in my post. I apologise for that,” wrote Mr Low.

The academic’s third public post on the issue comes about two weeks after his last comment.

“I have spent several days reflecting on my conduct, in putting up a commentary that was neither accurate nor honest,” he wrote. 

“I attributed to him views the very opposite of what he held, and then criticised him in a sneering tone.”

Mr Low also called his initial apology a “non-apology” that was “insincere and self-exculpatory”.

“I tried to claim I was commenting on the headline and not his remarks, when my comments clearly showed otherwise. [When I sent the apology, to make my apology appear true, I also deleted some comments I had made in my FB, which showed that I was in fact commenting on his remarks].”

He said he had written again to the minister to convey his “unreserved apology”. 

“I had misrepresented your views in the TODAY article, and had presented them in a careless, thoughtless and flippant way. To make things worse, my apology was self-exculpatory. I accept that my criticism of your views was untruthful, unfair and unsubstantiated. I have let the LKY School down. But above all I’m sorry for my original post; it was impulsive and reckless,” the reproduced letter to the minister read. 

Mr Low also said that when he was out of a job in 2012, it was Mr Shanmugam who gave him a recommendation for his current position.

“I decided that I should come clean about someone who had in fact helped me, and I should set out the facts in public.”

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