Teo Soh Lung in 2013 (Photo – Choon Hiong)

Lawyer and former ISA detainee Teo Soh Lung criticized mainstream media for giving the wrong impression to readers about the parliamentary debate on Wednesday (25 March) and indicated Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean’s explanations on the caretaker government as ‘talking nonsense’.

During the parliament on Wednesday, Mr Teo said it would be unconstitutional for the government to delay elections in the absence of a state of emergency and remarked the suggestion to form a caretaker government “shows a disregard for or a lack of understanding of the Constitution”.

Mr Teo said that in response to a question from Christopher de Souza, Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Member of Parliament (MP) on the Government’s stance regarding a proposal mooted by former presidential candidate and current Progress Singapore Party chief Tan Cheng Bock.

Dr Tan had suggested forming a caretaker government in the event if the COVID-19 situation in Singapore does not ease by April 2021.

“To suggest this shows a disregard for or a lack of understanding of the Constitution. Putting forward constitutionally unworkable proposals at a time of serious national crisis can only confuse and mislead Singaporeans to the detriment of Singapore and Singaporeans,” Mr Teo noted.

Following the parliament debate, lawyer Ms Teo took to Facebook earlier today (27 March) stating that the mainstream media had given people the wrong impression about the question raised by MP de Souza on the government’s stance on Dr Tan’s suggestion.

“I think it is dishonest and disgraceful for the mainstream media to cover a parliamentary debate in a manner that leaves people like me with a wrong impression. It should either report the question and answer fully or omit it completely,” Ms Teo wrote.

She added, “It should check a doubtful question, in this instance, the question raised by de Souza with the source i.e. Dr Tan himself.”

A number of reports from the mainstream media did not explain in detail what was Dr Tan’s actual suggestion made earlier on 21 March. Dr Tan had suggested in a Facebook video that the President could exercise her soft power to form a caretaker government comprising some of the current MPs and subsequently call for fresh elections when the COVID-19 crisis is resolved if the pandemic is dragged beyond 14 April 2021.

In view of that, Ms Teo urged people to look for alternative news and be cautioned of what is written on the mainstream media.

Meanwhile, she opined that the question raised by MP de Souza was to let Mr Teo to ‘belittle’ and accuse Dr Tan of ‘misleading people’, and enabled him to speak at length about the caretaker government.

“The misleading question (or misleading report) of MP de Souza also enabled the minister to give a long lecture on the Constitution, as if the PAP has any high regard for this document,” she asserted, adding that the PAP would not have amended the constitution so freely and frequently if the party has any regard for it.

She indicated Mr Teo’s explanation on the caretaker government as “talking nonsense” as the PAP has a supermajority in parliament to make laws.

“Minister Teo is really talking nonsense when he elaborates on caretaker governments. With the PAP super majority in parliament, it can make laws in a matter of hours or minutes and at its whims and fancies,” she said.

Ms Teo added, “There will never be a need for a caretaker government, at least not in my lifetime.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the surging number of infected cases in Singapore, Ms Teo said the senior minister still wants to hold a general election and gain a ‘clear mandate’ from the people.

“In other words, it does not want us, the people to criticise its work and the measures it takes to control the disease. It does not care about adding more burden to our overworked health care workers. It does not care about our well being,” she wrote.

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