Parliamentary Speeches

Ministerial Statement on Police Disclosure

Published: 22 March 2023

1.   The Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law (Mr K Shanmugam): Sir, I will address some matters arising from my answer to Mr Leong Mun Wai's Parliamentary Question (PQ) 4359 on 20 March 2023.

2.   After the discussion in Parliament, Mr Leong made a Facebook post about it on Monday night. Given the nature of some of his statements, which are serious misrepresentations, I had wanted to address them in Parliament yesterday, at the earliest opportunity. But out of respect for Mr Leong's bereavement over the passing of his mother, I decided to postpone, though his post was put up a few hours earlier. I also express my deepest condolences to him and I am sure Members will join me in that.

3.   The matter I am going to speak about arises from his post. Mr Leong's actions are quite improper, as I will show. What he has done is wrong and contrary to the requirements of Parliamentary procedure.

4.   On 20 March 2023, I answered a PQ from Mr Leong and Mr Perera. The answer was detailed. I specifically asked Mr Leong to tell us which parts of the answer he disagreed with. He did not respond and we moved on.

5.   Then, that same night, Mr Leong put up a Facebook post. He said several things, including that: one, my characterisation of Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern as having essentially absconded, is inaccurate; two, he also said that by disclosing the investigation into the Lees, Senior Minister Teo and I have risked turning Parliament into, I quote"a platform to colour public opinion on criminal proceedings".

6.   These statements are a mixture of misrepresentation and inaccuracy, and have to be dealt with.

7.   Mr Leong makes these allegations and more, but he does not deal with the main points. The main points of the answer I gave on Monday, which Mr Leong has avoided, are: first, the Court of Three Judges (C3J) and the Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) have said that Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern had lied under oath, and that there was dishonesty. Members can refer to the answer I gave on Monday.

8.   Sir, at this juncture, I would like to ask the Member through you, does he agree that the C3J and the DT have said that Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern lied on oath?

9.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong.

10.   Mr Leong Mun Wai (Non-Constituency Member): Speaker, that was fast.  Allow me enough time to ventilate, because sometimes, I have to put the thing into the context, since I have been specially called back to face the Minister.

11.   With regard to his question, I have read about the Judgment and the opinion of the DT and C3J. But I have also been told that the new allegations raised by the Senior Minister and Minister are actually new allegations, like perjury. Has it been established during the C3J? I do not know, I am not legally trained. For example, you know, perjury.

12.   And then, on Monday, the Minister talked about absconding. So, we asked has a written order been issued? He confirmed only an email. Maybe he will give us more information afterwards.

13.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong, I believe the Minister has the rest of his Statement. He is asking for a specific response to a particular position. You will have your chance to ventilate later.

14.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Yes.

15.   Mr Speaker: And the reason why we are doing this is that, in Parliament, when there are issues being raised, we would like the issues to be debated fully here and not in part, and then, thereafter, making statements outside. And that is why there is a need for us to discuss the issue now.

16.   So, perhaps, if you can respond directly to those questions what your views are and then allow the Minister to finish his Statement, and then, we will have ample opportunities for you to say what you need to say.

17.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Yes, but Speaker, I hope you also understand that in this House —

18.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, point of order. I asked a question. I am sure the Member can have plenty of time to ventilate at the end.

19.   I asked a simple question, does he agree that the C3J and the DT have said that Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern lied on oath. That is all. If the Member can give me an answer, he can give it to me. If he cannot, we will move on.

20.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: I think it is subject to legal interpretation.

21.   Mr Speaker: Okay, if that is your position, then we allow the Minister to carry on.

22.   Mr K Shanmugam: So, the Member does not know whether the C3J and DT have said that Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern lied on oath. Can I take that to be the answer? Can I ask that through you, Sir, that he does not know?

23.   Mr Speaker: He has said what he said, we can leave it to the rest to interpret. Minister, please continue. Unless Mr Leong have a response to that?

24.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: No, I know it has been said, but I think within the legal interpretation —

25.   Mr K Shanmugam: What has been said?

26.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: It is what you have said.

27.   Mr K Shanmugam: Thank you. Therefore, you will agree that the C3J and DT have said that Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern lied on oath.

28.   Second, Sir, can I ask through you, would the Member accept that, if they did lie on oath, that that is possible criminal conduct?

29.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, Sir, that is why this whole issue is not about "if". It is about if you want to raise a new —

30.   Mr K Shanmugam: Point of order again, Sir. The Member can talk about what he wishes at the end. My question is a simple one. If they lied on oath, is it possible criminal conduct? Either he knows or he does not know, and we will move on.

31.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: No. Speaker, can I say that I am not going to answer the Minister like answering in Court. This is a legislative chamber. This is not a legal chamber. I have my way of answering.

32.   Mr Speaker: Okay, if you can respond quickly. What is your response to that or no response for the moment?

33.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: No, what I said just now, Speaker, is that you do not put in new "ifs" or "whats" in this Parliament. If you have "ifs" and "whats", let the Court decide. That is what we are trying to drive at.

34.   Mr Speaker: Minister.

35.   Mr K Shanmugam: Thank you, Sir. One more question through you, Sir. If there was possible criminal conduct, would the Member accept that that should be properly investigated?

36.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, it is an "if" again. But for this question —

37.   Mr Speaker: If I may, it is a question of process. "If something like that were to happen, would that be...?", we are not ascertaining whether, in your views, whether you think they are guilty or not. If there is, should that – so that is your question.

38.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Correct. If there is a criminal offence, of course, it has to be investigated.

39.   Mr K Shanmugam: Now, that is one point. The second point – Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern have left Singapore and have said they will not come back, after being asked to assist in investigations. I said on Monday, in my summary, that they have essentially absconded from the jurisdiction. The facts have been stated in Senior Minister Teo's answer on 2 March 2023 and in statements issued by the Police, on 2 and 20 March 2023.

40.   On 9 June 2022, Police met Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern and asked them to assist in investigations. They agreed to come for an interview. They said they will tell the Police when they will be available. Police then handed them a letter providing details of the investigation and the interview.

41.   Mr Speaker, Sir, can I have your permission for a copy of that letter to be shown on screen, please?

42.   Mr Speaker: Please do. [A slide was shown to hon Members.]

43.   Mr K Shanmugam: The blank spaces that Members see were filled in by hand, by the officer. So, the form was given with details filled in.

44.   I had said in my response to Ms Sylvia Lim on Monday, that there was an email. Actually, this form was given and there were email exchanges after that.

45.   The Police then liaised with Mr Lee Hsien Yang on a suitable date over email and both parties agreed on a date, which was 13 July 2022. On 13 July 2022, the day of the interview, they sent an email to the Police saying they would not be attending the interview; by that time, they had left the country.

46.   From what they have said to the Police and what Mr Lee Hsien Yang has said since, it is clear that they have no intention of returning. After Senior Minister Teo gave his reply in Parliament on 2 March 2023, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said in a Facebook post on 7 March that he has, I quote, "been made a fugitive by [his] own country". I have asked for his post to be flashed on the screen. 

47.   And on the 12th of March 2023, he reposted in Instagram, his Facebook post: that he is a “fugitive”. And he said in an interview with a foreign news outlet released on 8 March 2023 that he is, quote, "unlikely to return to Singapore, at least for the foreseeable future."

48.   He himself admits that he is a fugitive.

49.   To assist Mr Leong in better understanding the dictionary meaning of "fugitive", I will flash it on the screen and I will just read two. [A slide was shown to hon Members.] From Merriam-Webster: a fugitive is a person who flees or tries to escape, such as a person involved in a criminal case, who tries to elude law enforcement, especially by fleeing the jurisdiction. Macmillan's definition: someone who has done something illegal, and is trying to avoid being caught by the police. You can also look at Longman, Oxford, Cambridge.

50.   This is how Mr Lee describes himself, he says that he has run away to avoid the Police.

51.   Sir, the Member knows Mr Lee Hsien Yang well; he has said on social media that Mr Lee is a valuable member of his Party. They have posted many photos together. They have shared each other's posts. For all we know, they might be in regular contact with each other.

52.   Sir, I would like to ask Mr Leong, through you, is Mr Leong saying in this Chamber, that Mr Lee Hsien Yang will come back and cooperate with the authorities? A simple question. No need to ventilate. We can ventilate later.

53.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Mr Speaker, Sir. Yes, Mr Lee Hsien Yang is a member of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP). But the real issue here that we are discussing is about fairness and equality before the law. It is not about whether he is a member of the PSP or not. And whether every citizen is given fair and equal treatment.

54.   Whatever Mr Lee said in his post, when we name a person to have absconded, we must follow our criminal procedure properly. So, if you have not issued him a written order, then your process has a problem. And you do not have the right to say that he has absconded.

55.   Mr K Shanmugam: That is not the question I asked. I take it that the Member does not wish to say whether Mr Lee Hsien Yang will come back and cooperate with the authorities.

56.   And, Sir, there is nothing flawed with the process. Police have explained the process and I repeat, both in this House and I am prepared to repeat it outside, Mr Lee Hsien Yang has absconded, on the facts. That is my position. That is consistent with what Mr Lee Hsien Yang himself has said, that he is a fugitive. And you have seen the dictionary definitions.

57.   So, let us not engage in false rhetoric. I will carry on with my Ministerial Statement.

58.   Everyone, including Mr Leong, knows that they have left the country, that they are “fugitives” and they have told the media they are not returning to Singapore. They have absconded.

59.   So, let us not hide behind a smoke screen of whether or not a Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) order was issued. They were asked to cooperate and they have run away. And you can say they have absconded, when they themselves know they are “fugitives”.

60.   That deals with the two main points I have made.

61.   Let me now move on to the Keppel & Offshore Marine (KOM) matter which Member has posted about.

62.   I told the Member on Monday, I had explained the differences between KOM and the case involving Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern, and why they are different. I had also explained in my answer on the 20th of March, why in some circumstances, when some names are disclosed in legal proceedings, nevertheless, Police may not release the names here. I invited him to point out so we can discuss which area of my explanation he does not understand or disagrees with. He did not respond.

63.   Let me address a fundamental point arising from what he said on Monday. He said there are double standards because the individuals in the KOM case are, I quote his words, "actually guilty". Sir, the Member has Parliamentary Privilege to speak, but that has to be exercised responsibly. When we want to say that someone is "guilty", I would like to remind all Members to have a care.

64.   Mr Leong has said that persons investigated by CPIB are, I quote, "actually guilty". That is making assertions against a number of persons, that they are guilty of criminal offences, that they have been found guilty of criminal offences, when in fact, they have not been found guilty. Not all the persons. The Cambridge dictionary definition of "guilty" is "responsible for breaking a law".

65.   So, Sir, I will now invite Mr Leong, through you, to either substantiate his statement, that they are all guilty, or withdraw his statement. 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.

66.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong.

67.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, may I ask the Minister? I actually was the first to raise the issue that whether the Senior Minister and Minister should make such statements in this Parliament. And now, he is turning it around and says that I have made certain statement.

68.   But I will answer his question first and I hope he answers the question I will ask, fully, later.

69.   When I say these individuals are guilty, because, this is based on the information that we have obtained about what happened overseas, in the overseas jurisdiction. What the Singapore Court's decision is, we know that the CPIB decided not to prosecute them.

70.   But at the same time, we also want to know not to prosecute, does it also mean that in the stern warning letter, there is really —when a stern warning letter is issued, does it mean that there are actually sufficient evidence to show that they are guilty, but there are some reasons that the CPIB decide not to prosecute them?

71.   Mr K Shanmugam: I raise a point of order. I had asked a simple question. Is the Member saying they have been found guilty, all of them, in any court of law? Or is he otherwise prepared to withdraw his statement? That is all I have asked. If he says he is not prepared to withdraw, we leave it and we follow up.

72.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: I have the impression that they are found guilty in the overseas court of law.

73.   Mr K Shanmugam: Can I know what is the basis on which the Member says that he is under that impression; that they have all been found guilty?

74.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: This is based on the case; the case has been such a big case overseas and in Singapore. And the Keppel Corp has paid such a big fine overseas.

75.   Mr K Shanmugam: Can I suggest that Member works a little bit, finds out what he is talking about, before coming here and making serious allegations? If I were to tell him that his statement is false, it is untrue to say that they have all been found guilty elsewhere, certainly not in Singapore, is he prepared to withdraw his statement?

76.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, if the Minister said that they have not been found guilty overseas, then I am prepared to withdraw my statement.

77.   Mr K Shanmugam: Well, for the record, one person pleaded guilty in the United States. To the best of my knowledge, no one else has been found guilty. And 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; really unparliamentary and not acceptable. And then to say, "Well, I have read", "It seems to be big".

78.   Unfortunately, this is a thread running through all of Mr Leong’s statements. He does not do his homework. He does not check. He just says all sorts of things. And that is not the way debates ought to go. I am glad Mr Leong has withdrawn that statement.

79.   Next, and therefore the basis on which Mr Leong says, “Oh, you know it is similar to this case”, it is not there. And I had given various other reasons why there are differences. He never dealt with any of them.

80.   Next, Parti Liyani. Sir, Mr Leong said that my referring to Parti Liyani is an attempt to muddy the waters because the case is irrelevant. The Member has ascribed an improper motive to me. The essence of his statement is that I used an example which is irrelevant, and that it was used to confuse Parliament. If that is what he thought, if he had said it, I would have responded immediately.

81.   Sir, let me make this clear. We have no problem, I certainly have no problem with Members challenging me, debating. The tougher the debate, the better it is, because the public then gets a better sense of which opinion is better or where the facts are. So, we welcome debate. We want debate.

82.   But, when a statement is made in Parliament and the Member does not respond; and then goes out, and particularly when I said is there anything that you disagree with or you do not understand, and he keeps quiet. He keeps quiet and then goes out and says this.

83.   I explained why the Parti Liyani case is relevant. It is an illustration of a fairly similar case where we also released the identity of a person who was being investigated, and where the Member was present and did not object.

84.   So, Sir, again, I will have to trouble you. I seek a clarification from Mr Leong, through you. Why does he say the Parti Liyani case is not relevant?

85.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker. First of all, I want to clarify, in my opinion, that even in our debate in this House, it is not necessary that all the time we have enough time and opportunities to refute every point. How long have we lasted —

86.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, I have a point of order.

87.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Okay, just one point.

88.   Mr K Shanmugam: Point of order. Is he saying I am not telling the truth when I invited Members to respond to me? If he disagrees —

89.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I did not say Minister is not saying the truth —

90.   Mr K Shanmugam: We are sticking to this debate —

91.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: I am saying that we may not —

92.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong, pause. Minister, complete the statement.

93.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: I am just —

94.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong, just pause.

95.   Mr K Shanmugam: On this debate, I expressly invited Member’s response. He was given adequate time. So, let us not confuse the matters.

96.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong.

97.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I disagree with the Minister. I do not think the debate that we had on Monday had lasted long enough. I have some more questions.

98.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong, if I recall, questions were asked, you did not respond. You had every opportunity. If you had raised your hands to respond, the time would have been given to you to do that.

99.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Well, Speaker, you have a very good memory. But okay, I will answer —

100.   Mr Speaker: Maybe just to clarify. Would that be a correct description? The question was asked. You did not respond to it.

101.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: It is not totally true. I think —

102.   Mr Speaker: So, you did respond to the question?

103.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: I had the opportunity to talk two times. But I wanted a third time to talk. But before I could —

104.   Mr Speaker: You did not raise your hand to ask.

105.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Before I could raise my hand, it went to another question already.

106.   Mr Speaker: Well, the point is made. Minister.

107.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, I specifically asked and I do not recall the Member raising his hands. We can look at the video because these things are on video now. I give an opportunity to the Member to correct himself. It would be accurate to say that we asked, and Member did not respond. Would the Member agree, Sir?

108.   Mr Speaker: And if I may add, Mr Leong, are you alleging that I did not give you the time to respond? Are you saying that?

109.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: I am saying that the debate could have been longer.

110.   Mr Speaker: No, no. I am asking a question. Because the questions were asked; I was watching whether you had responses. You did not raise your hands further. Would that be fair? Because I think I need to clarify for myself. Are you alleging that I am not permitting you the space to respond?

111.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Well, Speaker, sometimes, when we are debating an issue like this, it needs time to digest. Sometimes, it may take a bit of time to respond. But when the process just moves through so fast, there will be —

112.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sorry, Sir, can I ask the Member? We had a debate, exchange, answered his question. I asked him. He did not put up his hand. And Mr Perera asked a follow-up question. And there being no further questions, the matter, Parliament proceedings moved on. That is what happened. Can I put that on the record? And can I invite the Member to agree that that is what happened?

113.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong.

114.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I think in the sake of time, let me answer your question about Karl Liew.

115.   Mr K Shanmugam: No, I have just said, this is what happened. That is correct, is it not? We can check the video.

116.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Yes, I think probably I was digesting the information at that time.

117.   Mr K Shanmugam: Thank you.

118.   So, now I have asked, why does the Member say in his Facebook post that the Parti Liyani case is not relevant? I want to know the substance. Why do you say it is not relevant?

119.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, may I answer the Minister?

120.   Mr Speaker: Yes, please.

121.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Yes, we did not object to the disclosure of Karl Liew, because it was indeed in the public interest. The case of non-disclosure of the KOM executives has not taken place yet. So, our issue is about the non-disclosure of the KOM executives, and the fair treatment between the KOM case and the Lee Hsien Yang case.

122.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, I am asking something quite different. I am asking a clarification for Mr Leong on his Facebook post, which suggested the Parti Liyani case that I referred to is not relevant. And I would like to know from Mr Leong, why he says that it is not relevant. And if he does not know the answer, he can just tell us.

123.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I did not say it is not relevant. I said it muddied the water.

124.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, through you, can I ask, when you say a case is used to muddy the waters, what you are saying is it is not relevant, and it is used to confuse Parliament. That is, in essence, what "muddy the waters" means. So, I want to ask through you, Sir, again, does Mr Leong accept that the Parti Liyani case is relevant?

125.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I do not accept that the Parti Liyani case is relevant for this debate because — Minister, let me finish.

126.   Mr K Shanmugam: I do not need anything else. He can —

127.   Mr Speaker: We can let Mr Leong have a quick response on why it is not relevant.

128.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Minister, in that case, I am not going to answer any more of your question. This is not court —

129.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong. I am allowing you the space to elaborate on your response.

130.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Okay. So, because the issue here is about the fairness of the KOM case and the Lee Hsien Yang case. So, you do not need to bring in a new case. When you bring in a new case, in a way, you are clouding the thinking of people.

131.   Mr Speaker: Okay, thank you.

132.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: I did not say it is irrelevant. I did not say you are confusing Parliament. Minister, do not put words into my mouth.

133.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, may I ask what is the meaning of "muddy the waters"?

134.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, now Minister is testing whether I am from a lousy school or not.

135.   Mr Speaker: No, Mr Leong, I think the reason is this. There are reasons why we have debates in Parliament – so that we can debate the issues here, clarify and so on.

136.   But when we carry on the debate in a one-dimensional way outside, I think the idea here is to continue that. Because certain statements are made in your statements. I think the request is to let us clarify, to make sure that we tease out what exactly is the clarity thatthe public wants to know.

137.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: But, Speaker, I must say, this kind of questioning is not what a legislative chamber should be.

138.   Mr Speaker: No, I think if allegations are made in —

139.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: But, never mind, I will —

140.   Mr Speaker: Hang on. If allegations are made in Parliament, certain statements are made, I think it is free for Members to question and query.

141.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Yes, so I —

142.   Mr Speaker: So, the question is, you made a statement, out in your Facebook post, about “muddy the waters” and the Minister is asking, what exactly do you mean? There is no allegation about what school you came from. I am sure you are from a very good school.

143.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Yes, but the Minister already said that I am saying this because it is irrelevant, I am trying to imply it is irrelevant, I am trying to say that he is confusing the Parliament, which I did not say. Do you agree?

144.   Mr Speaker: So, the question he is asking is, what do you mean when you say “muddy the waters”.

145.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Okay, then now I will say. Do you agree to that, Minister? I did not say it is irrelevant. I did not say that you are confusing Parliament.

146.   Mr K Shanmugam: Can I take it that you say the Parti Lyani case is relevant to the current discussion?

147.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: I did not say it is relevant. I am going to answer —

148.   Mr K Shanmugam: So, it is neither relevant nor irrelevant. So, what is it?

149.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Okay.

150.   Mr K Shanmugam: And what does “muddy the waters” mean?

151.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: “Muddy the waters”, in my understanding of English is that, you cloud the real issues. That is why you are swimming in the muddy water, you cloud the real issues, because you introduce new things into the discussion.

152.   Mr K Shanmugam: "You cloud the waters", "you introduce new things" so that people cannot see the facts. It is irrelevant and you are introducing it. That is what you are saying. Can I ask that question, Sir, for the last time?

153.   Mr Speaker: Yes, please.

154.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I am not going to answer that.

155.   Mr Speaker: Noted.

156.   Mr K Shanmugam: Thank you.

157.   Mr Speaker: Minister, continue.

158.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, this is a serious allegation. Will the Member withdraw his allegation that Parti Lyani was referred to, in order to "muddy the waters"?

159.   And will the Member accept that it was quite wrong to have suggested motives on a false basis? Because I have explained why it is relevant. You can disagree here, but if you do not disagree, and you keep quiet, and you go out there, then I am entitled to ask this, and say it is not my intention to leave the matters be here, if the Member would not withdraw his allegation.

160.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Sorry, Speaker, can I ask the Minister to repeat his question?

161.   Mr Speaker: Minister, if you can indulge us.

162.   Mr K Shanmugam: I asked whether the Member is prepared to withdraw his allegation that Parti Lyani's case was referred to, in order to "muddy the waters".

163.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I am not going to withdraw that.

164.   Mr K Shanmugam: Thank you. Sir, Mr Leong also asserted in his post, that this is a private matter, quote, “fundamentally a family dispute”, and that it is not appropriate for Parliament, which is supposed to be a forum for debating issues of public interest, to discuss the issue concerning Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern.

165.   Members will recall - issues relating to 38 Oxley Road were first made public by Mr Lee Hsien Yang, himself, in 2017; then in a series of public statements. The Ministerial Statements in 2017 Parliament debates on 38 Oxley Road all took place here in Parliament. Earlier this month, a question was asked in Parliament on 38 Oxley Road. We answered. I explained on Monday why the matter had to be answered, in response to a PQ.

166.   I would like to seek a clarification from Mr Leong, Sir, on which part of the explanation does he disagree with, through you.

167.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I understand that 38 Oxley Road is a matter that is of public interest. That, I agree; and even if it was debated in Parliament before the time I came into Parliament, I have no issue with that.

168.   But, when there are further developments to that, especially with regard to the personal behaviours of Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern, I do not think there is a need to raise those issues in Parliament again. That is what I am trying to drive at.

169.   Mr K Shanmugam: Well, then that is a false basis, because the issue came about because there was a question that was raised, and answers were given.

170.   Sir, we have had this exchange today, for one reason only: Parliament is a place for debates. Parliament is a place where we exchange viewpoints. And on the basis that we are all trying to do our best for Singapore, we, through the exchange of ideas and debates, try and get to a point.

171.   But when someone is in the House, does not raise a point, says that, well, 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, he is in breach of Parliamentary rules. And, that is why we have to pull it up and ask a number of questions. That is why I decided to ask the Member a number of questions. Because Parliament should not be brought into disrepute with this kind of conduct.

172.   Sir, we take a serious view of his conduct. This is not the first time Mr Leong has breached the rules of Parliamentary procedure. I will give three instances.

173.   On 25 February 2021, Mr Leong apologised in Parliament for misrepresentations he had made.

174.   On 10 May 2021, he again seriously breached Parliamentary procedure and was told so.

175.   On 8 March 2022, he again had to apologise in Parliament, for his improper and uncalled for comments.

176.   This has unfortunately become a pattern with Mr Leong.

177.   In Parliament, we are prepared, as I said, for serious debate. Members can be as tough as they wish. And if anyone has questions, they can be raised as we are discussing, rather than keeping quiet here, and then, going out and casting aspersions.

178.   Let me read out section 31(g) of Parliamentary Privileges Immunities and Powers Act: “No person shall publish any statement, whether in writing or otherwise, which falsely or scandalously defames, or which reflects on the character of, the Speaker or any Member touching on his conduct in Parliament, or anything done or said by him in Parliament."

179.   You have your view points, you think that someone is not telling the truth, you think that someone is being dishonest, you think someone is trying to muddy the waters – do that in Parliament. Let us have a debate.

180.   But you do not go out, after keeping quiet here, and try and mislead the public. That is the rationale for section 31, and that is why we have to take a serious view.

181.   Parliament is a place for discussion – I agree entirely with Mr Leong. But it is not a place for playing hide and seek. You debate here.

182.   In my view, he has breached section 31. That is my view, in the context of his post. And Sir, through you, I ask that he deletes his post, accepts that he has misrepresented the position, and he should apologise. I do that through you, Sir.

183.   Mr Speaker: When you are ready.

184.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I would only agree to delete my post if the Minister points out specifically again, what are the issues of my post? Muddying the waters is not something that is an issue. Please elaborate again, how does that word "muddy the waters" become an issue.

185.   Mr K Shanmugam: I went through it, but for his benefit, I will say that again.

186.   I explained why Parti Lyani's case was relevant. In that case, the High Court had expressed the view that Mr Karl Liew had not acted honestly and had lied on the witness stand – possible offence of perjury. He was being investigated, we disclosed that, here, before it was made public, before he was charged.

187.   In this case, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern have been said to have lied on oath – possible offence of perjury. That was disclosed here too. It is directly relevant.

188.   If the Member thought that that was not relevant, I am happy for a debate. I am not saying everyone has got to agree with what I said. Hardly. Disagree, explain, debate and so that the public can have a better understanding, if you think it is not relevant. But do not be a coward. Keep quiet here, go out and say, "Oh, it's an attempt to muddy the waters", that is casting aspersions on me, that I am doing this to confuse. That is not acceptable.

189.   That is just one example. The allegations against Senior Minister Teo and myself too.

190.   So, I invite Mr Leong to delete his post, withdraw the statements and apologise, Sir.

191.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong.

192.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, Sir, I have given my explanation just now, that muddying the waters just means that — in my post, I also said, "let us concentrate on the differences between the Lee Hsien Yang and the KOM cases". That is what I mean.

193.   I am not casting aspersions on the Minister at all. That case will actually cloud the judgement of other people, so let us concentrate on the differences between the Lee Hsien Yang and the KOM case – that is the meaning of that. Is that not acceptable?

194.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, I take it that Member does not withdraw the statements. We will then proceed to consider what the next steps ought to be. If at any time Member changes his mind, before a decision is reached, he can let us know.

195.   Thank you, Sir, that is the end of my Ministerial Statement.

196.   Mr Speaker: Are there any clarifications? I am prepared to wait, Mr Leong. Would you want to consider your response?

197.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, so, can I confirm that what the Minister has said is that, there are specifically two problems with my post: one is muddying the waters; and two, is the statement I made about Senior Minister and yourself about using this Parliament to say certain things. Are those the only two points you are taking issue with my post?

198.   Then, I want to explain the second point as well.

199.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, I highlighted two points for illustration. That is what I would say.

200.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, so my understanding of the processes, of our legal processes is that, when you name someone to have committed perjury or you say someone has absconded, and if the process that we have put in place through our legal system has not been strictly followed, and then you are saying those things in Parliament, is that not something that we should think about, as Members of this House? That is the spirit of what this Parliament should be, that I am trying to write in my post.

201.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, I do not propose to debate the post further, except to say this. By speaking about them having lied on oath, as the Courts have said, or them absconding, we do not therefore, prejudge their guilt.

202.   They will have to come back; they will have to be charged, if the Police see fit to charge. And the Courts will have to decide.

203.   As I said in my answer on Monday, when we said that Mr Karl Liew is being investigated for having lied on oath, the comments that were made, we are not prejudging his guilt.

204.   Likewise, when we say that he has absconded, when he himself has described himself as a fugitive, it is entirely in order.

205.   If he is charged for absconding from jurisdiction, he can then explain what he meant. And, certainly, our statements here are not evidence. Our statements here are meant to further our discussions, in furtherance of what actually happened. It is a description of the process that they have run away, without cooperating with the Police. That is what "absconding" means – run away without cooperating with the Police. It can also mean that they have committed an offence of absconding – fugitives from justice.

206.   But let us not split hairs here. When you have run away, and you describe yourself as a fugitive, I do not think there is anything wrong in calling you an abscondee, particularly when you have said you will cooperate, and then run away without cooperating. I did not say that they have been charged and found guilty. So, let us drop these pretences. Let us just get to the point.

207.   But in any event, Sir, unless there are any other clarifications on my Statement, that is the end of my Statement.

208.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong.

209.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I will make this my last question to the Minister. So, does the Minister agree that before the due legal process is being followed, Members make statements about, potentially, there may be a criminal behaviour of certain individuals – is that acceptable?

210.   Mr K Shanmugam: We do that in a number of situations when we say that people are being investigated, and I have given you a number of illustrations when we said, when we revealed that investigations are ongoing. When you say that investigations are ongoing, the implication with it is that, certainly, you are suspected by the Police. It happens.

211.   Mr Leong did not think there was anything wrong with that statement being made about Mr Karl Liew. He did not think there was anything wrong about Mr Chew when we said that he had attempted to flee the jurisdiction. That was before he was charged. We do that. I would not say frequently, but it has happened a number of times. And as I said, if you look at it, and if it is a question that is asked here or even outside, Police have released that information.

212.   But nobody in their right minds will, therefore, think that either the Police or Members here are, therefore, saying that they have been found guilty. The only person who has made that statement without basis is Mr Leong, when he airily said they were actually guilty. I certainly will never say that.

213.   But that does not mean that we cannot say so and so is being investigated. We have to look at the prejudice to the person, possible prejudice, and I have explained in my answer, why there was very little prejudice here, to disclose that they are being investigated.

214.   Likewise, the fact that they have run out of jurisdiction – I mean if you want, we can keep saying each time they have run out of jurisdiction and escaped from the Police. We use a short-hand term: they have absconded. They say they are fugitives. What is the difference?

215.   But did anybody say that they have been found guilty?

216.   You do look at the prejudice that might be caused when you make statements; you need to be careful. But I explained in great detail why there is hardly any prejudice. In fact, no prejudice in this case.

217.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong.

218.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, yes, I hope this is the last question.

219.   So, I have actually said in my post, I would not have taken issue with the disclosure of names in the Lee Hsien Yang case if names of the individuals involved in the KOM case were also disclosed. So, that is the crux of the matter that I wanted to debate in this Parliament. As a result, with regard to the Karl Liew case, I take it as normal to disclose in this case, especially when the case became so big and all that.

220.   But at that time, I did not know that the Government actually have two mouths. When it comes to the KOM case, it says "Oh no, we don't need to release the names". So, that gets me, wanted, to clarify that in this Parliament.

221.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, I have explained in some considerable detail the differences. Unless the Member has a specific query or disagrees with my explanation, I do not know how I can answer further. I mean, I have explained all the differences, why the case is different. In fact, his reason for saying that it is the same, one of which is completely false, and he has withdrawn it. So, if the Member has a specific reason for disagreeing with the differences I have pointed out, I would invite the Member not to make these allegations that people speak in this way or that way. Let us keep to the facts; do not be pejorative. Unless you can back it up.

222.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong.

223.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I thought I have always been backing up what I have said, so far. I explained to you what I mean by muddying the water. I explained to you why I disagree with the inclusion of Karl Liew’s example. That when Karl Liew’s case came up, we have not gotten the KOM case.

224.   And by the way, I want to make one clarification. In my post, I did not mention that the six individuals are guilty, but it is from my Parliamentary statement. So, they are two different things.

225.   Mr Speaker: So, which is which? Did you say that the six of them are guilty or not? Whether one post or the other?

226.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, he has withdrawn the allegation. And I did say – I think Member pays attention sometimes and he does not pay attention sometimes.

227.   Mr Speaker: If I may, Mr Leong, did you withdraw your allegation on the six individuals? Just to be clear. I was not sure whether I have heard it.

228.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, if Minister did not ask me, I suggest you do not ask me.

229.   Mr Speaker: So, not to ask you that question? Ms Indranee.

230.   The Leader of the House (Ms Indranee Rajah): Mr Speaker, as Leader of the House, I would just like to remind Members to conduct themselves in a Parliamentary manner. And the tone in which we address one another is important. I would, therefore, ask Mr Leong to be mindful of that.

231.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, I did say in my Statement that Mr Leong said this on 20 March, here. That is not in his Facebook post. And he withdrew that allegation, which is false, by saying he did not know the facts.

232.   As for the others, one of the problems with having a discussion with Mr Leong is that: he talks about KOM, I have explained that, I have explained the differences between KOM and here. And then he says, "Oh, but I have backed up" and he goes on to other things.

233.   Sir, on KOM, I have said what the differences are; and unless he can tell me which part he disagrees with, there is really nothing much more that I can say. And I suggest we leave at that, Sir.

234.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong.

235.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I think it is very difficult for public perception or for the public to understand; because I do not understand fully what the Minister had tried to explain about the differences between the two cases.

236.   I think he raised, basically, three areas: public interest, prejudice and having absconded.

237.   Sir, having absconded, that one we already dealt with in quite detail.

238.   On public interest, I would think that the KOM case is just as significant in terms of public interest. If not, even more than the Lee Hsien Yang case. So, is that not a condition that the KOM individuals should be disclosed?

239.   Secondly, about prejudice, the Minister also went to great length to show that there is no prejudice in the Lee Hsien Yang case. But many of us would think that there is even less likelihood of prejudice in the case of the KOM case, when the individuals have already been widely reported overseas.

240.   So, that is the doubt that every Singaporean and the public of Singapore would have, although you may, technically explain some of the legal details here and there, but the public perception is something that we have to deal with in this House. That is why I disagree with what the Minister had explained between the KOM case and the Lee Hsien Yang case.

241.   Mr Speaker: Minister.

242.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, I said a little bit more than that. But for Mr Leong's and the Members' understanding – I had explained some detail the differences, he does not deal with all the differences.

243.   But in the KOM case, the investigations had concluded. An assessment had been made that guilt could not be established beyond reasonable doubt in Court. No one was charged. To name the individuals who were investigated under these circumstances would be of prejudice to those individuals.

244.   The harm associated with naming someone when charges would not be pursued, must be weighed. I would ask Mr Leong and Members to think about this carefully. Are we saying that in future, if we decide that a case cannot be made out against some persons who have been investigated, let us be clear, are we saying that if a case cannot be made out, we ought to release the names simply because some of their names had been in the media or other places, in some other place? Are we saying that?

245.   Do Members really think it is right to accept the principle that simply because names have been published elsewhere, we proceed to release them here, even when the agencies have concluded that they cannot be prosecuted?

246.   If Mr Leong is saying that, let me know; if that is the principle that you are suggesting?

247.   This is a case, the KOM case, where the agencies have concluded, that they cannot proceed with the case.

248.   Five individuals were named in the Brazilian court documents. But, I do not know if Mr Leong knows this – they were not the defendants in that case. And as far as I am aware, no views were expressed by the court that they had engaged in wrongdoing.

249.   And in these circumstances, the general policy of not disclosing the names of the individuals who had been investigated, applies. It applies to KOM, and it applies to anyone else. As I said, one person subsequently pleaded guilty in the US – the legal counsel. Then, you assess, do you release his name alone and not the others?

250.   This is not a case of politicising these matters. If you apply it here, then you must be prepared that, in future, whenever some names have been leaked in the media elsewhere or whenever their names have been mentioned in some context, not as defendants, the court does not express an opinion, their names are mentioned by some witnesses, is Mr Leong arguing for the principle – and I would like to hear from him – that in all such cases, as long as the names are mentioned by someone and are public, then when we investigate, even when we conclude that there is no case, we ought to release the names?

251.   Can I hear from him, through you, Sir?

252.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, I think I am not going to answer that question. Because to and fro, we know what the Minister's stance is and the Government's stance is, that they are not going to release the names of the individuals. And we have talked about this —

253.   Mr K Shanmugam: I am prepared to consider and ask Police to reconsider, if the Member says that is the principle and should apply to all future cases.

254.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, that is not the principle I am asking.

255.   Mr K Shanmugam: Thank you.

256.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: But —

257.   Mr K Shanmugam: Thank you. Now we know what the facts are.

258.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: But I am saying that if these people in the KOM case have been widely publicised —

259.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, point of order. The Member is repeating. I have asked him. I have put it on the table. If you say this is the principle, I will tell the Police, please consider releasing. He says that is not the principle.

260.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Yes, that is not the principle.

261.   Mr K Shanmugam: And rightly so, because it is very wrong for people's names to be released after the agencies have already concluded that they cannot be charged.

262.   Sir, unless you are minded to allow a re-ventilation of matters that we have gone through over and over again, may I ask that that be treated as the end of my Statement? Unless Mr Leong has something new.

263.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker —

264.   Mr Speaker: Do you have a fresh perspective, Mr Leong?

265.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Sorry?

266.   Mr Speaker: Do you have a fresh perspective to add, rather than repeating the same points?

267.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Yes, just one last statement. I agree with the Minister that we should not release the names, if the case is really closed. But we should also apply the same principle – that individuals who have not even been subject to court proceedings, why are you releasing their names? So, I want that principle to be upheld as well. Sir, that is what I am trying to say.

268.   Mr K Shanmugam: Sir, that is why — so, now we put aside KOM. The Member agrees with me that the names ought not to be released. I thank him for that.

269.   Now, let us move to the release of the names of Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern. It is exactly on all falls with the Parti Liyani case, and the various other illustrations of disclosure. I would invite the Member to go and read carefully what I have said. There are situations when you release – and I have explained fully why it was released – and no Member had an issue with that, other than Mr Leong. Thank you Sir. 

270.   Mr Speaker: That is the end of it, Mr Leong. No, this is not for you to respond. I have some things to say. Can I just remind you, as illustrated, I have been more than tolerant, more than accommodative of you, in the various occasions for you to speak up. Can I remind you that, at the very least, let us retain the decorum of this Chamber in terms of whether you are addressing myself or other Members? Is that clear?

271.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Yes, Speaker, I actually just want to —

272.   Mr Speaker: You can sit down. Thank you.

273.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Sorry, Speaker —

274.   Mr Speaker: Order. The Clerk will now proceed to read —

275.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Sorry, Speaker —

276.   Mr Speaker: Order. The Clerk will now proceed to read the Order of the Day.

277.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Speaker, actually, I want to extend an apology to you.

278.   Mr Speaker: Mr Leong, yes?

279.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: I actually want to extend an apology to you.

280.   Mr Speaker: Well, in that case, quickly.

281.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: But just before that, you said I was "silly" just now?

282.   Mr Speaker: Sorry?

283.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: Did you say I am trying to say something silly?

284.   Mr Speaker: No.

285.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: No? Oh, sorry about that. I apologise to you for what I have said just now, that regarding, if the Minister did not ask the question, please do not ask the question.

286.   Mr Speaker: Noted.

287.   Mr Leong Mun Wai: I sincerely apologise to you.