Singapore's first lady Ho Ching, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong isn't new to controversies. Like all the prominent figures, any statement of her supporting an issue or against it draws flak.
On June 1, when she shared a cartoon by Singapore newspaper Lianhe Zaobao, it didn't go down well with the citizens of Taiwan. The cartoon, Ching shared, depicted U.S. President Donald Trump supporting protesters in Hong Kong throwing stones at a shop, calling it democracy while at his own backyard, he called the protesters, thugs.
The U.S. is currently witnessing a nation-wide protest against the death of African-American George Floyd, who died at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25.
Ching received a lot of criticism for sharing the cartoon that called out Trump's hypocrisy. But Taiwanese netizens felt that she was merely supporting China's propaganda to curb the ongoing protests in Hong Kong against the Fugitive Offenders Amendment bill. Had it been enacted, people of Hong Kong could be tried in mainland China which doesn't have an extradition treaty with their country at present. The new law violates the Sino-British joint declaration and abolishes Hong Kong's autonomy, bringing the country under China's rule.
Taiwan too faces a similar situation with China as the Chinese Communist Party considers it its own territory like Hong Kong, and wants to abolish 'one country, two systems' policy. Trump in recent past has openly supported Taiwan's stance to bash China.
Over the last year or so, tensions between China and the U.S. have been on the rise. Americans were quick to support protesters in Hong Kong and lashed out against police brutality on them. Hence, when a similar situation escalated in the U.S., albeit for a different reason, China was quick to equate the two situations to take advantage, calling out Trump on his iron-fist approach to curb protests.
Ching's past posts that irked Taiwanese
Ching already had a strained relation with Taiwanese after being called out for her initial Facebook post 'Errrr', in response to Taiwan donating 100,000 masks in April to fight the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Although she later modified the post and thanked Taiwan, its citizens felt she was disrespectful. It quickly escalated after Ching shared a video of a talk show that discussed deteriorating relations between Singapore and Taiwan. She even had to apologize to Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen after Ching shared a video that criticized her political party with an image showing 'mask diplomacy fail' in that.
At present, Singapore doesn't recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state and doesn't have any diplomatic ties. It considers Taiwan a part of Mainland China – something Singapore's political party People's Action Party (PAP) has echoed since its existence – supporting China's claims.
Celebrities lending support
Meanwhile, many celebrities including Olympic gold medallist swimmer Joseph Schooling of Singapore supported the protests in the U.S. and observed 'blackout Tuesday' by turning their social media profile pictures black. Tennis great Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, swimming legend Michael Phelps beside Hollywood and Asian celebrities supporting the cause.