Leon Perera at Workers' Party Rally during General Election 2015 (Photo - Lawrence Chong)

NCMP Leon Perera surprised at Minister Tan’s claim of “stirring hate and anger”

Non-constituency Member of Parliament, Leon Perera says that he is surprised at Minister Tan Chuan-Jin’s claim of “stirring hate and anger” on Mr Png Eng Huat’s Facebook posting about the special clearance at the Tuas Immigration Checkpoint and suggest that such labels should only be applied to few dangerous individuals who are really seeking to do that.

Mr Perera wrote on his Facebook page, “I was surprised to read Minister Tan Chuan-Jin’s reply to Mr Png Eng Huat’s post on queueing at the JB checkpoint, which stated that the post was “aimed at stirring hate and anger.” Mr Png’s post was a reflection on his experience of seeing some grassroots leaders and residents receiving expedited clearance. It was not inflammatory.”

Earlier on Monday, the MP for Hougang noted in his Facebook page that a counter was opened specially for Minister Tan who was also in Malaysia to join his residents for a tour on July 17.

Mr Png wrote that while most people in the queue probably did not mind the counter being specially opened for Minister Tan as being a Minister does come with privileges, it is somewhat unacceptable that an entourage of grassroots leaders and members with shopping bags in tow also enjoyed the privilege of fast clearance at the custom without needing to join the crowd.

The Immigration Checkpoint Authority confirmed on Tuesday morning that a special clearance counter was opened for Minister Tan and the grassroots leaders on the bus that he was on, were also allowed to use the counter.

Minister Tan in his Facebook posting on Tuesday evening, clarified that he joined his residents on a one-day durian trip to Johor Bahru on Sunday as well as to make an official visit to the Deputy Home Affairs Minister’s Hari Raya Open House. He added that he travelled by bus so that he could be with his residents and volunteers during the trip.

Minister Tan then commented that it is unfortunate that MP for Hougang, Mr Png Eng Huat and his colleagues chose to politicise the issue.

He wrote, “But the purpose of his post, and that of his compatriots, was clear. It was not about the old folks. It was aimed at stirring hate and anger, not only to be directed at me, which I can understand politically, but also at my residents and volunteers (who organised as well as helped guide each bus), as well as our officers who secure our borders. It’s unfortunate that he and his colleagues chose to politicise the issue.”

Mr Perara noted in his posting that Thursday is Singapore’s Racial Harmony Day and said,  “We celebrate it at a time when some prominent voices around the world are calling for hatred and anger against those who are not like them. Surely we should apply such strong labels as “stirring hate and anger” only to those few dangerous individuals who are really seeking to do that.”

In a posting last night, Mr Png posted his reply to media queries about Minister Tan’s comments.

Mr Png wrote, “The system must be seen to be fair. The issue is not about Minister Tan. The expedited clearance for him comes with the position he is holding and for security reason. My volunteers worked very hard too. Some buses were missing a few passengers as they were still queuing and the buses did not leave the checkpoint until way past 11pm. I am sure some of the PA buses experienced that too. I have no doubt our officers worked very hard to secure our borders too. In fact, I believe they worked a lot harder because the Minister was there.

I cannot control how people feel. I am also on the receiving end of hate and anger for bringing this issue out in the open. I don’t have an issue with Minister Tan, personally or politically. I have an issue with inequality.”