On Wednesday (19 February), director of Function 8 and former ISA detainee, Teo Soh Lung, highlighted in a Facebook post that the government itself had secretly recorded her speech in the 1980s without her permission.
“Recording private meetings are done by governments all the time,” Ms Teo asserted.
The former politician and lawyer, said this in reference to the leaked audio recording of Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing last week.
Mr Chan was at a closed-door meeting with a group of business leaders organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), in which a snippet of the dialogue was recorded and circulated to various group chats.
In the audio, Mr Chan addressed a number of issues pertaining the nation’s economy and society, including people’s behaviour of panic buying and hoarding essential items in Singapore.
Following that, the President of SCCCI Roland Ng released a letter stating that the act of one of its members of leaking the audio snippet is “unacceptable and deeply disappointing.”
He explained that recording the meeting was unauthorised and a clear breach of trust, noting that all its participating members were already informed that it was a closed-door dialogue and should be off-the-record before, during and after the session.
“It has done damage to SCCCI’s standing as a chamber of high repute,” SCCCI stated in the notice. “This has betrayed the trust that SCCCI has built with Minister Chan over the years.”
In response to Mr Ng’s letter, Ms Teo said that she was “exceedingly amused” upon reading his letter.
“His letter expressed the fear that its standing of ‘high repute’ has been damaged by the leak. It also expressed the disappointment and regret about the conduct of one of its members and the erosion of trust between the Chamber and the minister,” she wrote.
She added, “Don’t worry about the leak. Recording private meetings are done by governments at all time. You member’s conduct is not disgraceful at all.”
Ms Teo explained that while she was giving a speech at a private general meeting of the Singapore Law Society in the 1980s, someone present at the event “secretly recorded and reproduced verbatim” for the former prime minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. She said that Mr Lee at that time was trying to “run me down” at the Parliamentary Select Committee hearing on the Amendment to the Legal Profession Act in 1986.
As such, the organisation’s director told Mr Ng not to “worry” about the audio leak as the member’s act is “quite in order”.
“So Mr President, don’t worry. If the government can behave in such a disgraceful manner when dealing with a professional body like the Law Society, which in my view is much more important than your business Chamber, your member’s leak of an audio clip of the minister is quite in order,” she wrote.
SCCCI has “no reputation”
Ms Teo also mentioned that there’s no reason for SCCCI to think that its member has actually brought down the chamber’s good name. This is because Mr Ng and his council is “too conceited” to think that SCCCI is “a chamber of high repute”.
“To me, your chamber has done nothing for the ordinary people of Singapore. Indeed your chamber merely caters for the rich and powerful, the ministers and the business people,” she wrote.
As an example, she said that in 2015, she booked an auditorium for the “launch of LIVING IN A TIME OF DECEPTION by Dr Poh Soo Kai, who is actually the grandson of Mr Tan Kah Kee.
For those who are unaware, Mr Tan was a renowned philanthropist, activist and one of the founders of SCCCI and the auditorium that Ms Teo booked for the event was actually named in honour of him.
However, Ms Teo said that the council rejected the booking just few days after she paid the rental deposit of S$510. To make it worse, she said that no reason was given regarding the rejection.
“I immediately wrote to the chamber to reconsider the irrational decision of your council members. I copied my letter to all the council members who had valid email addresses,” she noted.
She continued, “Your chamber of so called “high repute” did not even bother to respond or give reasons why the grandson of your founder could not even launch his book at the auditorium that is named after his grandfather.”
Additionally, Dr Poh also commented about this incident at the actual launch of the book at a new venue, Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium, in 2016.
He said: “It is sad to note that I, a grandson, cannot make use of a hall that is in my grandfather’s name to launch my memoir which also pays homage to the old man. This, to me, is a sign of a very sick society.”
As such, Mr Teo pointed out that there’s no reason for the President of SCCCI to investigate on the leaked audio recording of Minister Chan. “You don’t have a reputation as far as I am concern. And I am sure, the public don’t care,” she lamented.