Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry Dr Tan Wu Meng will retire from political office and return to medical practice.
The line up of the new cabinet was announced publicly by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on yesterday afternoon and among the political appointments, six new political appointees were introduced.
Dr Tan who was elected in Parliament in General Election 2015 and appointed as Senior Parliamentary Secretary in 2018, is not one of those being mentioned in the line up.
In a letter to Dr Tan, which was made public, PM Lee said, “Thank you for writing to me to explain your intention to return to medical practice. I accept your decision.”
PM Lee said Dr Tan had asked to leave the Government and return to medical practice.
In a letter to PM Lee which Dr Tan published on his Facebook page, he cited his first love “has always been personally looking after patients and people”.
However, Dr Tan will continue to serve as MP. On this Facebook page, he wrote, “I will continue to put full effort and full heart into serving residents, together with my fellow MPs in Jurong GRC, and to contributing actively in Parliament.”
Tan Wu Meng receives backlash for criticism of WP chief Pritam Singh
One of the controversial things Dr Tan did before he stepped down from political office was his attack on WP chief Pritam Singh just before GE 2020 (‘PAP MP Tan Wu Meng receives backlash for criticism of WP chief Pritam Singh’s comments on “citizens who are loving critics”’).
In an opinion piece on the People’s Action Party website last month, Dr Tan focused on Mr Singh’s comments made in Parliament earlier about “citizens who are loving critics”. Dr Tan said Mr Singh had spoken “in support” of Mr Alfian, who he said “consistently praised Malaysia to illustrate his disdain for Singapore”. Mr Singh did not name Mr Alfian in his comments in Parliament.
“Alfian Sa’at is no ‘loving critic’,” said Dr Tan. He went on to say that Mr Singh “may not have read all these things that Alfian has said”, and should thus “read them carefully, and then tell us if he still thinks Alfian is a ‘loving critic’ of Singapore”.
“If he does, perhaps Mr Singh considers himself a ‘loving critic’ of Singapore too?”
But veteran diplomat Tommy Koh did not think of Mr Alfian negatively. Last October, Prof Koh stressed that Alfian “is not anti-Singapore”. He added that freedom of speech should not only be limited to views that concur with the establishment, but also those that are contrary to the government.
“I admire very much his plays, Cooling-Off Day and Hotel. It is of course true that some his writings are critical of Singapore. But, freedom of speech means the right to agree with the government as well as the right to disagree,” Prof Koh said.
Separately in a dialogue session with Bloomberg News, Prof Koh said that Singapore needs “loving critics and critical lovers”, not “sycophants”.
Netizens respond to Tan Wu Meng’s attack
Many netizens felt that Dr Tan’s opinion piece was a form of “character assassination” and demonstrated a low calibre on his part.
Tan Wu Meng attacked by resident
Dr Tan is one of the rare few MPs who have been physically attacked by residents (‘PAP MP Tan Wu Meng attacked by resident during MPS, light injuries sustained‘).
Two years ago at his Meet-the-People (MPS) session in Clementi, he was suddenly attacked by a resident and was left with light injuries.
Dr Tan told local media that he was talking to a resident at around 10pm during the MPS when a young man suddenly rushed over and began hitting him with his fists.
“One moment I was speaking to that resident and the next thing I knew someone was hitting me and I found myself on the floor,” he said.
Dr Tan noted that the man in his 30s, was in the queue. For some reason, he suddenly left the queue and started hitting Dr Tan.
Residents and volunteers who were at the scene managed to quickly restrain the attacker. The police and SCDF shortly came. SCDF medical personnel advised him to go to the hospital for a check-up, but he resisted.
Dr Tan told the media, “There were a handful of residents who had not seen the MP yet so I made sure I saw them before I went to hospital.”
The attacker was duly arrested by the police.