Asia Singapore Ex-Foreign Minister George Yeo's post on Tucker Carlson's debunked Russian claims about...

Ex-Foreign Minister George Yeo’s post on Tucker Carlson’s debunked Russian claims about biolabs in Ukraine draws strong reactions

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Former Foreign Minister shared, uncritically, debunked Russian claims about biolabs in Ukraine which is pushed by Tucker Carlson of Fox News.

 

Former Foreign Minister George Yeo’s post of Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News has drawn sharp criticism. Yeo captioned his post of Tucker’s show titled “Why are we funding this”, as “from an unexpected quarter”. YouTube’s flagging of the show as “partly false information”, did not deter Yeo from sharing it in his own social media platform.

Yeo is a former brigadier-general and Cabinet Minister. He currently serving as chairman and executive director of Kerry Logistics Network. Yeo lost his Member of Parliament seat in 2011 Singapore general election. He represented the People’s Action Party (PAP) in the Singapore parliament as a Member of the Aljunied Group Representation Constituency from 1988 until in 2011. In 2013, Yeo was recently appointed as a non-official member of the newly established Hong Kong Economic Development Commission.

In his show, Fox News host Carlson had amplified a baseless theory promoted by Russian state media accusing the United States of funding biological weapons laboratories in Ukraine. There are biological laboratories inside Ukraine, and since 2005, the United States has provided backing to a number of institutions to prevent the production of biological weapons. But Carlson had misleadingly cited remarks from American officials as proof that the labs are producing or conducting research on biological weapons.

Carlson also pointed to an interview with Robert Pope, the director of the Pentagon`s Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which helps countries in the former Soviet Union secure or eliminate nuclear and chemical weapons.

In congressional testimony this week, Victoria Nuland, the under secretary of state for political affairs, was asked by US Republican Senator Marco Rubio whether Ukraine has chemical or biological weapons.

Nuland said in her testimony that Ukraine has diagnostic and biodefense laboratories. Rubio himself made the same clarification in another congressional hearing on Thursday, noting that “there`s a difference between a bioweapons facility and one that`s doing research.

The Pope on the other had warned that Russia`s invasion of Ukraine may damage laboratories in the country that conduct research and disease surveillance and are supported by the United States. In a March interview with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Pope also echoed Nuland`s concerns about the laboratories falling into Russia`s hands. The United Nations Security Council convened a meeting on Friday about Russia`s accusations concerning biological weapons in Ukraine.

Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN’s high representative for disarmament affairs, said the United Nations was “not aware of any biological weapons programs” in Ukraine. For years, Russia has claimed that former Soviet countries were manufacturing biological weapons at laboratories funded by the United States.

All these clarifications did not stop Carlson from mischaracterising comments such as Nuland’s and Pope’s to ask why the United States of America is funding bioweapons laboratories in Ukraine.

Yeo’s sharing of Carlson’s show in his Facebook drew strong criticisms.

One commenter used sharp language to ask what was wrong with Yeo.

Yeo’s post also drew the criticisms of other prominent personalities. Dr Cherian George in referring to Yeo as “former foreign minister and SAF general” chastised Yeo for sharing “uncritically, debunked Russian claims about biolabs in Ukraine, being pushed by one of America’s best known and best paid purveyors of hate propaganda.”

George is a Singaporean academic and the author of award-winning books such as Freedom from the Press. George made headlines in 2013 when his then-employer, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) denied his application to be a tenured professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communications and Information (WKWSCI).

Kirsten Han, a prominent independent journalist and social activist also chimed in and asked, “Why is George Yeo amplifying Tucker Carlson’s peddling of the conspiracy theory about secret US-run biolabs in Ukraine?” She pointed out that the claim by Carlson has been debunked.

Yeo did not respond to any of the criticisms on his Facebook page, He was perceived as a sympathiser of the Chinese Government after he wrote an op-ed for the Global Times in June last year titled, ‘China is a democracy by Lincoln’s definition: former Singaporean FM’. The Global Times is a daily tabloid newspaper under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper. In June last year, he also said that “there is concerted effort from the U.S. to put China down”.

Even though Yeo failed to retain his Foreign Minister post after the 2011 General Election, he has kept himself abreast of foreign affairs by meeting prominent international personalities and delegations.

In 2013, he was the one who welcomed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi when she visited Singapore.

More recently, in mid-February, he posted that he had lunch trade representatives from Russia.

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