SINGAPORE: Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) for the Progress Singapore Party, Mr Leong Mun Wai, filed a formal complaint with Speaker of Parliament, Mr Seah Kian Peng, yesterday (16 August) following remarks made by Bukit Batok SMC Member of Parliament, Mr Murali Pillai of the People’s Action Party.
In a Facebook post, Mr Leong cited the Hansard, which is the official verbatim report of the Parliament proceedings, regarding a debate on the Lease Agreements for Retail Premises Bill that took place on 3 August 2023.
Mr Leong wrote, “This statement imputed improper motives to me as he had claimed I was advocating for rent control when I had not made any such statement during the debate.”
In his Facebook post, Mr Leong noted that Mr Murali contradicted his earlier statement thrice and refused to retract it.
He added that this exchange had misled the public, giving the impression that he was making false accusations.
The NCMP has requested a ruling from the Speaker regarding the matter. He has also called for Mr Murali to retract his original statement and apologize if the Speaker determines that improper motives were implied.
According to the Hansard, Mr Murali’s remarks, were as follows,
The hon Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Mr Leong Mun Wai had advocated some form of low-rent control. I have been in legal practice long enough to remember the spectre of the Rent Control Act. In those days, because of the Rent Control Act, there was no real investment by the landlords on their premises, leading to dilapidated buildings. And in the end, Singapore suffers because small Singapore would require a high utility of our land.
So, what is fair in the circumstances would have to be determined by market and now, we have this framework in terms of a committee, and we need to take a consensual approach to deal with all these issues.”
However, upon being confronted in the Parliament on 3 August, Mr Murali denied attributing the advocacy of low-rent control to Mr Leong.
The newly appointed Speaker, Mr Seah, interjected after a series of exchanges between the two MPs, stating, “I think that point has been clarified. It will all be recorded – what you said and what Mr Murali said.”
Mr Leong sought clarification, asking, “Speaker, Sir, so, can I confirm that if afterwards we have confirmed that I did not say that I am asking for lower rent, I am just talking of a general approach, Member Murali will apologise to me and correct his statement? Member Murali, can I ask whether you will commit to that?”
In response, Mr Murali stated, “Sir, I am not making any commitment, Sir. Of course, Mr. Leong is entitled to his views and I hope that he respects that I am entitled to my views as well. I have already offered that whatever we have said is recorded in Hansard and we stand by what we say.”
Mr Murali added that he wouldn’t make any commitment in that regard.