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Highlights: PM Lee, parliament discuss Iswaran probe, resignation of PAP MPs over affair

"I should have forced the issue earlier," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, addressing the resignation of Tan Chuan-Jin and Cheng Li Hui over an affair. Mr Lee also explained the decision to cut Mr Iswaran's pay amid CPIB's corruption probe.

20:07 Min
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that in retrospect, he “should have forced the issue sooner” in taking action on the extramarital affair between former Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and former PAP MP Cheng Li Hui. Delivering a ministerial statement in the House on Wednesday (Aug 2), Mr Lee explained his thinking. He said he first found out about the affair in November 2020. He spoke to Mr Tan, who told him that the relationship would end. Mr Lee “therefore felt there was some leeway to take some time to decide what further steps to take”. He said on the basis that the affair had stopped, he would have asked Mr Tan to step down as Speaker some time before the end of the term but in a way that would reduce public embarrassment to him and his family. Both parties would also likely have had to resign as MPs “at some point”. Mr Lee noted that the Speaker has no supervisory power over an MP. He said he had hoped to give Mr Tan and Ms Cheng “a softer exit” and that he had perhaps placed too much weight on protecting their families. The Prime Minister also addressed the probe by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) involving Transport Minister S Iswaran. He said after instructing Mr Iswaran to take a leave of absence following his arrest and release on bail, he interdicted Mr Iswaran from duty with a reduced pay of S$8,500 a month until further notice. Mr Lee said there is no rule or precedent on how to effect an interdiction on a political office holder, so he used the current Civil Service practice as a reference point. He could not provide more details on the case as CPIB investigations are ongoing. The Prime Minister said this CPIB probe, along with the one involving the Ridout Road bungalow rentals, as well as the response to the extramarital affair, show two aspects of how the PAP Government works. One - when there is suspicion or allegation of wrongdoing in the discharge of official duties, especially possible corruption, there is zero tolerance. Two - when people slip in their personal lives, the PAP will look at the facts of each case carefully and deal with the matter as humanely and sensitively as possible, according to its established principles. Mr Lee said the Government does its utmost to identify the right people to bring into politics and appoint to responsible positions - and “often they measure up, but sometimes they fall short”. He said that with the recent incidents, the PAP has “taken a hit” but it will show Singaporeans that it will uphold standards so that trust is maintained and the Singapore system continues to work well. Mr Lee said this is his approach and he is confident it will be his successor’s approach too.

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged in parliament on Wednesday (Aug 2) that he should have acted sooner after learning of the affair between former Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and Cheng Li Hui.

Mr Lee said he had placed much weight on protecting their families - "perhaps too much", he added.

The resignation of the two former ruling party MPs, as well as the corruption probe involving Transport Minister S Iswaran, dominated discussions in parliament for more than two hours.

Mr Lee revealed that Mr Iswaran's pay had been cut to S$8,500 a month after being interdicted from duty.

Mr Chan Chun Sing, in his capacity as Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, also explained why the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) did not initially announce Mr Iswaran's arrest. He added that law enforcement agencies generally refrain from immediately naming the people being investigated as it may prejudice them.

Here are the main stories on the issues raised in parliament, as well as the highlights and videos from the proceedings:

Source: CNA/gs


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