SINGAPORE: Tan Chuan-Jin, the former Speaker of Parliament, has retracted his unparliamentary remarks, which were accidentally recorded, and extended a formal apology to the House, the public, and MP Jamus Lim of the Workers’ Party (WP).
Indranee Rajah, the Leader of the House, delivered Mr Tan’s apology on Wednesday, August 2. His apology comes on the heels of his resignation from the People’s Action Party (PAP) on July 17, following an extramarital affair with former PAP MP Cheng Li Hui.
“I sincerely apologise to the House for the unparliamentary language that I used, and for not respecting the dignity and decorum of the House,” Mr. Tan wrote regretfully in his apology letter.
Ms Indranee labelled the incident as “very regrettable”. However, she expressed her view that no further action was necessary, stating: “As members of Parliament, it is incumbent upon us to uphold proper standards of conduct… Rude and unparliamentary language, and expletives, in particular, certainly do not meet the standards expected of all members, and lower the dignity and decorum of the House.”
Her comments followed the release of a video in July, which captured Mr Tan muttering an expletive after a speech by Associate Professor Jamus Lim asking for a poverty line to be set on 17 April.
Ms Indranee maintained that all necessary steps had been taken to address the issue and considered the matter closed.
In response to Ms Indranee, WP MP Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) queried whether Ms Indranee had directed Mr Tan to apologise. Ms Indranee clarified, “It was my view that this specific matter did not require further action, but I’m not saying that I have the power to conclude it. If any member thinks otherwise or wishes to do otherwise, it is open to another member to do so.”
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh questioned whether law enforcement involvement would be warranted to determine the source of the leaked video. He cited the timing of the video’s release and Mr Tan’s subsequent affair revelation as potential indicators of “circumstances which the authorities should actually look into”.
Ms Indranee countered that she saw no clear offence in posting a video online, but conceded, “Should something further come up, which indicates that an offence may have occurred, then the matter can be reconsidered at that time.”
Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai also raised concerns over a separate hot mic incident from September 2021, involving him and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. He questioned if the Speaker had erred by not demanding a formal apology from Dr Balakrishnan in Parliament.
Ms Indranee highlighted that Mr Leong had accepted the apology at the time and stated, “If Mr Leong wishes to take that matter further, it will be up to him… but I’m sure he will seek the appropriate advice on the regulations and the rules and do what is necessary.”