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Leong Mun Wai responds to ‘confrontational’ label: Pursuing answers is a Parliamentarian’s duty

Progress Singapore Party Secretary-General, Leong Mun Wai, in response to the characterization of his parliamentary style as ‘confrontational’, stated that he is simply doing his best to address unanswered questions in Parliament.

The Non-constituency Member of Parliament (MCMP) emphasized that the perception of his actions as confrontational depends on individual viewpoints.

“If you think that every time, I pursue a minister for a definitive answer and every time I answer the speaker in order to get an opportunity to talk — that is confrontational, then I cannot say anything, because I would think that is the basic duties of a parliamentarian.”

He expressed his belief that as a parliamentarian, it is essential to push for answers when they are not provided, rather than simply accepting the lack of response.

Don’t just sit down after unanswered questions, says Leong

“You cannot just ask a question, the minister didn’t answer you, then you sit down right? You have to ask another question,” he said.

So I think I, as a parliamentarian, I should push for it, ” he added that he would leave to Singaporeans to judge whether his parliamentarian style is confrontational.

Since Mr Leong took up his appointment as an NCMP in 2020, he has been involved in a number of fiery exchanges with Ministers from various ministries.

The most recent being with Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Law over the disclosure by Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean of the police investigation against Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Mrs Lee Suet Fern and Mr Shanmugam’s remarks that the couple had “absconded.”

On top of his numerous Parliament Questions, Mr Leong has also initiated various motions and adjournment motions on issues such as free trade agreements and housing policies. He is also one of the few who have submitted parliamentary petitions on behalf of Singaporeans to Parliament.

During a press conference held at the party headquarters in Bukit Timah Shopping Centre on Saturday (27 May), Mr Leong acknowledged that there were parliamentary procedures he was not yet familiar with, but he expected to become “more polished” with experience.

I think that would be better and better, because there are many parliamentary procedures that make it quite difficult for us to make our to put our point across actually. So that’s why sometimes it may be a bit awkward.

PSP’s founder and chairman, Dr Tan Cheng Bock, stated that the labels of “confrontational” are merely thrown at Mr Leong and that his style is simply different, aimed at obtaining answers rather than engaging in confrontation.

Sometimes it is not confrontational, it is trained to get an answer. The style is different, that’s all.

According to a report by local media outlet TODAY in April 2023, Dr Felix Tan, a political analyst at Nanyang Technological University, stated that Mr Leong’s engagement in parliamentary discussions is primarily driven by his professional approach to specific issues rather than his sense of accountability.

Dr Tan acknowledged that not everyone may appreciate Mr Leong’s approach, but he noted that there are other members and supporters of the PSP who value and desire such confrontational debates within Parliament.

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