There has been a recent surge in pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the United States, with protesters advocating for the end of Israel. Notably, Neville Roy Singham, the individual associated with funding these protests, was previously linked to the controversial Indian news portal, NewsClick, which received Chinese funding for anti-India propaganda.
According to a report by The Free Press, Singham and his wife, Jodie Evans, are identified as financial backers of these protests, raising concerns about the scale of their support and its implications. The report reveals that Singham’s organisation funded its first protest on October 8, just one day after a terrorist attack initiated by Hamas on Israel. While Israel was still assessing the aftermath of the attack and preparing for a response, Singham and his organisation were already actively promoting an anti-Israel narrative in the United States.
Singham serves as the primary benefactor for the People’s Forum, contributing a total of USD 20.4 million between 2017 and 2022, as detailed in public disclosure forums. Notably, Singham’s financial backing comprises nearly the entire funding for The People’s Forum.
Located in Midtown Manhattan, the organisation defines itself as a “movement incubator for working-class and marginalised communities to build unity across historic lines of division at home and abroad.” However, questions have arisen regarding the grassroots authenticity of the movement and its potential vulnerability to external influences, given the substantial funding from Singham and his wife.
Singham’s financial prowess originates from his founding of Thoughtworks, a software consulting company in 1993. In August 2017, he sold the company for USD 785 million to Apax Partners. Concurrently, The People’s Forum was established, receiving a significant infusion of funds. Notably, the organisation’s office is situated just meters away from the renowned Times Square. By 2021, The People’s Forum boasted 13 staff members and assets valued at USD 13.5 million.
After selling Thoughtworks, Singham dedicated himself to “philanthropy” through financial contributions, yet the reality diverges from his portrayed image. The 69-year-old tech entrepreneur relocated to Shanghai, establishing close ties with at least four propaganda news websites aimed at promoting a positive image of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). A New York Times report delved into Singham’s connections with the CCP, raising concerns about potential foreign influence in US affairs, particularly in fostering discord and division.
Chairing the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, Rep Mike Gallagher highlighted broader Chinese influence strategies, encompassing Confucius Institutes on college campuses, TikTok’s algorithmic reach, and organisations funded by Singham, all contributing to undermining and weakening America. These concerns illuminate the multifaceted nature of Singham’s involvement, extending beyond financial support to geopolitical and ideological alignments that could impact the socio-political landscape.
Singham’s political roots lie in far-left ideology, born in 1954 to a Cuban mother and a Sri Lankan father deeply engaged in political science, advising the United Nations on Third-World development. Singham joined the radical Marxist League of Revolutionary Black Workers at 17, actively organising strikes at a Chrysler plant in Detroit. In 1974, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated him, deeming him “potentially dangerous,” underscoring the intensity of his involvement in leftist activism during his formative years.
Despite achieving subsequent success in the corporate world, Singham retained his radical political beliefs. In a 2008 Fortune profile, he expressed admiration for Venezuela under Hugo Chavez and endorsed China’s economic policies as a model for capitalist economies.
Singham’s wife turned pro-China after marriage
In 2017, Singham entered matrimony with Jodie Evans, a former Democratic political activist and co-founder of the anti-war nonprofit Code Pink. This union marked the coming together of like-minded individuals with a shared history of left-wing activism.
Initially, Evans voiced criticism against the Chinese government’s treatment of feminists in 2015. However, a noticeable shift in her views towards the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) occurred after her marriage to Singham. In 2020, she initiated the #ChinaIsNotOurEnemy campaign through Code Pink, leading webinars that commend China’s political structure and dismiss allegations of Uyghur oppression. This transformation stirred controversy, particularly due to her simultaneous advocacy for the rights of Muslim residents in Gaza while justifying China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims.
Notably, Singham shares an office with the Maku Group in Shanghai, a media company focused on presenting “China’s story well through innovation.” His association with pro-Chinese portals like NewsClick in India and the now-defunct New Frame in South Africa raises questions about his authenticity. Singham is also linked to the Chinese website Dongsheng News, indicating his involvement in shaping the narrative around China’s domestic and international image.
Concerns have been raised by U.S. lawmakers about the couple’s ties to the Chinese government, with Senator Marco Rubio calling for an investigation into their compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act. However, Singham has denied CCP ties, asserting that his actions stem from personal views.
Despite facing accusations, Singham and Evans, who are linked to The People’s Forum, have maintained a conspicuous silence. The organisation has taken to social media to defend itself, asserting that Singham, as a Marxist, contributed his wealth to political education. Nevertheless, questions persist regarding the organisation’s autonomy and the potential external influences shaping its agenda.
Manolo De Los Santos, the executive director of the organisation, aligns The People’s Forum with pro-China sentiments and has expressed admiration for China’s system on a state-owned media channel. However, he refrains from addressing inquiries about the organisation’s leadership uncertainty and ideology.
While actively engaged in pro-Palestinian activism and frequently organising protests against perceived Israeli supporters, The People’s Forum faces ongoing controversies related to financial transparency, alignment with China, and potential external influence. Senator Rubio’s call for an investigation reflects broader concerns about foreign impact on domestic advocacy, prompting a reconsideration of the intersections between activism, philanthropy, and geopolitical alignment. Undeterred by the scrutiny, The People’s Forum remains steadfast, preparing for the upcoming “Shut It Down for Palestine” protest on November 17th.
On August 5th, The New York Times published an in-depth article exposing the connections between an American businessman and the Chinese government, highlighting his financial support for an Indian leftist propaganda outlet named NewsClick.
The US-based newspaper reported that Neville Roy Singham, a millionaire, has been channeling funds to numerous news publications globally, including India, with the purpose of promoting Chinese propaganda.
The article revealed, “What is less known, and is hidden amid a tangle of nonprofit groups and shell companies, is that Singham works closely with the Chinese government media machine and is financing its propaganda worldwide.”
The New York Times emphasised Singham’s success in disseminating Chinese government talking points under the guise of ‘progressive advocacy’ in various countries such as India, Brazil, South Africa, and the United States.
In the course of its investigation, the American newspaper uncovered Singham’s financial backing of the India-based leftist propaganda outlet NewsClick. It pointed out that the news outlet had previously echoed the talking points of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“In New Delhi, corporate filings show, Singham’s network financed a news site, NewsClick, that sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points. ‘China’s history continues to inspire the working classes,’ one video said,” noted The New York Times.