SINGAPORE: The People's Action Party's (PAP) prospective new candidate Ivan Lim has decided not to contest in the General Election, after online criticism about his conduct during his time in National Service, among other accusations.
In a statement on Saturday night (Jun 27), the PAP said party secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong has accepted his decision to withdraw.
Mr Lim, in a letter to Mr Lee, cited various allegations made about his conduct and behaviour.
"Following my clarification this morning, further allegations have emerged against me," Mr Lim wrote. "These new allegations are baseless."
He added: "I recognise that the controversy over my candidacy has eclipsed the core issues of what this election should be about - Singapore's future and the difficult steps we have to take to recover from COVID-19.
"The controversy has also caused intense pain and stress for my family. I cannot put my family through this. I thank the party for giving me this opportunity to serve."
READ: GE2020: 'I am determined to stay the course,' says PAP prospective candidate Ivan Lim in response to online comments
READ: GE2020: Prospective PAP candidate Ivan Lim should clarify comments on his conduct, says Heng Swee Keat
Criticism surfaced online after Mr Lim was introduced on Wednesday as one of the PAP's 27 new potential candidates. He was the first batch of new faces unveiled by the party for the 2020 General Election.
Mr Lim, 42, was accused of being arrogant, elitist and lacking compassion when he was an officer during National Service.
The general manager with Keppel Offshore and Marine was also accused online of being involved in the company's bribery case in Brazil. Mr Lim had said earlier on Saturday that the allegation against him is "completely baseless and untrue".
As for the stories about him during National Service, Mr Lim said that "people can have different perspectives of the same incident", while explaining his stand in one of the incidents raised online.
Mr Lim's decision to withdraw came just hours after he addressed the criticisms in a press note issued by the PAP, saying he was "determined to stay the course" and to serve if elected.
"I accept that I can always do better and I am willing to learn. I will take this experience to heart and do my best to prove myself to voters and all Singaporeans," he said on Saturday afternoon.
His comments came after Deputy Prime Minister and PAP first assistant secretary-general Heng Swee Keat said during a morning walkabout that he would like to see Mr Lim come out to clarify the allegations so that people can hear both sides of the story.
READ: GE2020: Candidates introduced will ‘elicit responses’, important to ‘prove themselves’, says Masagos
PAP vice-chairman Masagos Zulkifli was also asked about Mr Lim during a press conference on Friday.
"I think it is important for the candidates who may have been alleged to be something, or other, to also prove themselves," said Mr Masagos.
“And I think it is not a moment in their career, or their time with people that define them, but as a person throughout their life, and also an opportunity for them if, they have done something in the past, to redeem themselves."
Mr Lim's decision not to contest in the General Election was first reported by Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, and later confirmed by the PAP in a statement.
CONTROVERSY HAS BEEN "UNFORTUNATE": PM LEE
In a letter to Mr Lim accepting his decision to withdraw, Prime Minister Lee said the controversy surrounding his candidature has been "unfortunate".
"Ideally, there would have been a fair and deliberate consideration of these allegations," said Mr Lee.
"Unfortunately, the nature of the campaign is such that we do not have time for a thorough investigation. The allegations spread like wildfire online, eclipsing the serious life and death issues we must grapple with."
Mr Lee said that he respects Mr Lim's decision to withdraw.
"I regret that you and your family have had to bear such stress during this period. I hope Singaporeans will give you and your family the peace and privacy to recover, and welcome your continued contribution to our society," Mr Lee added.