SINGAPORE — On Monday (17 Jul), the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) announced that Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and Member of Parliament Cheng Li Hui have tendered their resignations from both Parliament and the People’s Action Party.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has accepted both of their resignations.
During a press conference on the same day, PM Lee disclosed the details of the inappropriate relationship between the two PAP MPs, highlighting that they persisted in the relationship despite being advised to end it.
He had previously spoken to Mr Tan about this matter in February this year, where Mr Tan admitted his mistake and offered his resignation.
“I had accepted his resignation, but I told him, first, I needed to make sure the residents of Kembangan-Chai Chee and Marine Parade continued to be taken care of.”
“Meanwhile his relationship with Ms Cheng had to stop, ” he told Mr Tan.
Recently, PM Lee obtained information that strongly indicated that the relationship between Mr Tan and Ms Cheng was still ongoing.
“I decided then that Mr Tan had to go forthwith, whether or not the arrangements were ready. It could not wait any longer.”
On 11 July, Mr Tan admitted to muttering unparliamentary language after WP Member of Parliament for Seng Kang GRC Associate Professor Jamus Lim concluded his speech during a Parliamentary sitting on 17 April.
During their meeting, PM Lee confronted Mr Tan about both his inappropriate conduct and the unparliamentary language. Mr Tan agreed to leave immediately in light of these issues.
“During our discussion, he agreed to leave immediately – both for his unparliamentary conduct as well as his inappropriate relationship with Ms Cheng, which he had told me he would break off but he did not.”
PM Lee: first alerted to the relationship between Mr Tan and Ms Cheng after the GE 2020
The Prime Minister emphasized that the improper relationship was a more serious concern than the unparliamentary language because of Mr Tan’s role as Speaker of Parliament and Ms Cheng’s position as a Member of Parliament.
He stated that such a relationship should not have occurred.
In response to media inquiries, PM Lee confirmed that he became aware of the relationship between Mr Tan and Ms Cheng after the last general election in 2020.
“I do not know when it began, but they were spoken to, counseled. Unfortunately, the matter didn’t close and so it came to the hard conversation we had in February this year.”
In February, Ms Cheng was also counseled by PM Lee about the situation. Despite this, she continued the relationship with Mr Tan, which deeply disappointed PM Lee.
“It saddens me to discover that these two PAP MPs have fallen short of the high standard of propriety and personal conduct that we expect from all PAP MPs. ”
“When such a situation arises, it is my duty as secretary general of the party to deal with them and put things right. This means to counsel, to correct, to admonish, and ultimately, if necessary, to remove the MP from the party and parliament. ”
“It is painful to do this to our friends and comrades-in-arms, and it can also be politically embarrassing and costly. But the PAP has to maintain party discipline and standard of conduct. ”
PM Lee stressed that their commitment is primarily to parliament and the people of Singapore, and this duty takes precedence above all else.
New Speaker to be announced on 1 Aug
During this period, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jessica Tan will serve as the Acting Speaker. Prime Minister Lee stated his intention to propose a new Speaker and deliver a ministerial statement during the upcoming parliament session on 1 Aug.
Mr Tan, aged 54, is a married individual with two children. He commenced his political career in 2011 as a member of a five-member People’s Action Party (PAP) team contesting Marine Parade GRC.
Before assuming the role of Speaker of Parliament in 2017, he served as the Minister for Manpower from 2014 to 2014 and as the Minister for Social and Family Development from 2015 to 2017.
On the other hand, Ms Cheng, aged 47, is an unmarried individual who has been the MP for Tampines GRC since 2015, when she first entered the political arena.