Shanmugam calls on Leong Mun Wai to remove Facebook post & apologise for misrepresentation

The point of Parliament is that Members gather, in an above-board manner, to exchange viewpoints and debate.

It is a procedure for how common cause is found for the betterment of Singapore.

As the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act sets out too, no one shall falsely defame a parliamentarian regarding his or her conduct in Parliament.

NCMP Leong Mun Wai, however, has a pattern of not doing either of these. In fact, he consistently abuses this privilege.

His latest infraction against Parliamentary rules is why Minister for Law Mr K Shanmugam gave him multiple chances to apologise and delete his social media statements this afternoon (Mar 22).   

“When someone is in the House, doesn’t raise a point, says that he was digesting it, and then goes out and puts a Facebook post with both improper statements and untrue statements, then he is abusing Parliamentary privilege.”

Minister Shanmugam was referring to serious misrepresentations which NCMP Leong made on social media about the Minister’s own Parliamentary statements.

On Lee Hsien Yang: “Fugitive” is accurate  

One of NCMP Leong’s allegations is that Minister Shanmugam’s characterisation about Mr and Mrs Lee Hsien Yang having essentially absconded from the law is inaccurate.

But Minister Shanmugam presented once more, cogent pieces of evidence which shows why this characterisation is accurate. These include Mr Lee’s own social media posts describing himself as a fugitive and even the Merriam-Webster and McMillian dictionary meanings of “fugitive”.

“They were asked to cooperate and they ran away. And then you can say ‘they’ve absconded’ when they themselves know they’re fugitives,” said the Minister.

On the KOM case: NCMP Leong’s abuse of parliamentary privilege

NCMP Leong also alleged that the people investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau (CPIB) over the Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd (KOM) case are “actually guilty”.

These are unbecoming assertions against people that a parliamentarian should not be making.

“They’ve been found guilty of criminal offences when in fact, they have not been found guilty, not all the persons,” said the Minister for Law.

The Minister also called on NCMP Leong to either substantiate his statement with evidence or withdraw it.

“One cannot, under the cloak of parliamentary privilege, make these sorts of statements about people. And if he does not withdraw, then Sir, we will consider what else needs to be done.”

Another thread in an unparliamentary pattern of conduct

“It is a very serious statement to come here, make allegations without doing your homework and then propagate this sort of stuff all over the place,” said Minister Shanmugam.

“Unfortunately, this is a thread running through all of Mr Leong’s statements. He doesn’t do his homework. He doesn’t check. He just says all sorts of things. And that is not the way debates ought to go.”

This thread, notes, is a very long one indeed. It is part of a pattern of inaccurate, ill-researched statements which can dangerously divide Singapore.

Minister Shanmugam then went on to give NCMP Leong the opportunity to withdraw his recent social media posts which, he explained, has breached Section 31.

“Parliament is a place for discussion. I agree entirely with Mr Leong. But it’s not a place for playing hide and seek. You debate here,” said the Minister.

“I ask that he deletes his post. Accept that he has misrepresented the position. And he should apologise.”

Images: MCI/YouTube, Singapore Statutes Online.