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When PAP MPs defamed Chiam – and did not lose their jobs

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By Ravi Philemon

In 1980, Foreign and Culture Minister S Dhanabalan and Defence Minister Howe Yoon Chong made certain remarks about Mr Chiam See Tong's professional capacity and competence as a lawyer.

Mr Chiam took offence with the remarks and said that he will sue both men for making those statements which were damaging to his reputation. He did not take legal actions against Howe because the Defence Minister apologised and reportedly offered Mr Chiam $15,000 as compensation (http://bit.ly/1kQ34dN).

Dhana however was served, but Mr Chiam withdrew the defamation suit against the Foreign and Culture Minister when Dhana publicly apologised and offered an out of court settlement of $7,000.

In Dhana's apology he said, "I acknowledge that there was no foundation for any of the imputations and I sincerely apologise to Mr Chiam See Tong for having made them." (http://bit.ly/1ipHCHHbit.ly/1qxFmTS)

Let's compare these events which happened about 35 years ago with what had happened to Roy recently.

In supporting Tan Tock Seng's explanation for the termination of Roy which in part said "...they must conduct themselves properly, honourably and with integrity. In particular, they cannot defame someone else without basis, which essentially means knowingly stating a falsehood to the public", MOH said that Roy's "actions show a lack of integrity".

Two reasons were cited for the termination of Roy. The first reason is work related, and if the employers had made this the only reason for letting Roy go, it would have been more acceptable.

But the second reason is not work related. And it has also been pointed out elsewhere, that the two men who defamed Mr Chiam See Tong held on to their jobs even after admitting, apologising and compensating Mr Chiam for the defamation. How then can this be a reasonable reason for terminating Roy?

It is this part in TTSH's statement, and MOH's statement supporting TTSH's decision which said that Roy's actions show a lack of integrity, which make it seem like Roy's sacking was politically motivated.

The Straits Times, 28 February 1981, Page 11:

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In another incident, in 1986, PAP MP Augustine Tan also made amends to Mr Chiam.

The Straits Times, 16 November 1986, Page 17:

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Mr Dhanabalan went on to serve as minister till 1993.

Mr Tan served as MP till 1991.