SINGAPORE — When questioned about the timing and coincidence of the video exposing two former Workers’ Party (WP) members’ affairs, which emerged just hours before People’s Action Party announced the resignation of its Members of Parliament, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin and Ms Cheng Li Hui, WP Secretary-General Pritam Singh refrained from speculation.
However, he acknowledged that the question was on many people’s minds and left them to draw their conclusions about the ‘uncanny coincidence.’
During a press conference at 1 pm on Wednesday (19 Jul), WP Secretary-General Pritam Singh and Chairman Sylvia Lim addressed allegations of improper relations between Mr Perera and Ms Seah, confirming both senior party members’ resignations.
Mr Perera has informed the Acting Speaker of Parliament that he will be resigning his seat as the MP for Aljunied GRC.
The decision was prompted by a video that surfaced on social media on the same day (17 Jul) as the announcement of Tan Chuan Jin and Cheng Li Hui’s affair by PM Lee Hsien Loong.
The video showed shows Perera, 53 and Seah, 37, in a restaurant, with the former appearing to caress the latter’s hand.
When questioned by a member of the press about the video’s timing and its relation to the subsequent resignations, Mr Singh responded cautiously.
“I don’t want to encourage speculative statements in public from any of my party members, and I would be very concerned if we went down that road,” he told the reporter from Rice Media.
“But I think the fact that you’re asking the question suggests it’s on your mind, and I think you’re not wrong,” he added.
“I think it’s on a lot of people’s minds, but I leave you to draw your own conclusions, on… this ‘uncanny coincidence’ vis-a-vis timing.”
Unaware of when and where the video was taken
Earlier, Mr Singh revealed that the two former party members were not forthcoming when initially confronted with the allegations.
Upon the video’s emergence on Monday (17 Jul), Mr Singh confronted them again, leading to their confession about the affair, which they claimed had ended some time ago.
In response to media inquiries seeking clarification, Mr Singh stated that he was unaware of the video’s origin and recording date, and didn’t possess a fixed date for the end of their relationship.
It is known that both former WP members began their relationship after the General Election in 2020.
Mr Singh reiterated that had there been different or new evidence, such as corroborative information or another source confirming their affairs, the WP would have pursued a different course of action.
He explained that when Mr Perera’s driver tipped them off, there was no evidence or corroborative information to support the allegation.
“Secondly, it was a single source who was an employee of Leon’s, whose services were about to be terminated, so in our judgment, it was most appropriate to speak to Leon directly.”
However, when initially confronted by his party members, Mr Perera had denied the allegation.
WP’s decision on Mr Perera’s matter emphasizes being upfront with the party leadership
When asked about handling the affair differently from PAP’s approach to former Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin, Mr Singh clarified the rationale behind WP’s actions concerning Mr Perera and Ms Seah.
He emphasized that the decision was not solely based on their affairs but rooted in a fundamental article of WP’s Constitution – to be candid and truthful as party members, especially as candidates dealing with the party and the people of Singapore.
“If you fall foul of that then the consequences are severe.”
As if Mr Perera didn’t offer his resignation, Mr Singh said he would have recommended that Mr Perera be expelled from the party too.
“I’m talking about not being upfront with the party leadership when the question was asked of him when the allegations were going around. There was a duty, to be frank and all this to the party. This is how we have to convince Singaporeans of their faith and confidence in the Workers’ Party.”
However, he acknowledged that Mr. Perera’s departure would indeed mean the party losing an important member. While he left it to the public to judge Mr. Pereira’s effectiveness in Parliament, he also recognized Mr. Perera’s excellent work on the ground.
“But, there are other things that we cannot ignore, and standards that have to be kept and party discipline is incredibly important if you want to be a serious party in advancing the interests of Singapore and Singaporeans.”
Ms Seah talked to her loved one on the matter earlier
Regarding the families’ awareness and reactions to Mr Perera and Ms Seah’s affairs, Mr Singh mentioned that they were disappointed when he spoke to them about the matter on Monday.
“They were disappointed with the pain that they’d caused in Leon’s case for sure, the pain that he had caused his family members.”
“In Nicole’s case, she had approached her loved ones earlier to speak about the matter, and she had been resolving the matter earlier, and the process of healing started with her much earlier after the affair ended.”
However, Mr Singh refrained from delving too deeply into their feelings and family matters, recognizing the difficulties they must be facing.
“I would reiterate is that… I think most of us who are married can, and it would be a very very difficult time for both of them.”
“The family is a crucible of strength for all of us, so I think I want to be careful about what I say, and I would just want to end off by saying that I hope that the family finds strength and I pray that they are able to move on with their lives.”
Mr Singh’s response to concerns over candidates screening
A reporter from Chinese media outlet Lianhe Zaobao raised questions about WP’s candidate screening process after the party lost three out of 21 candidates within two years since the General Election in 2020.
In response, Mr Singh acknowledged the concern but emphasized that commenting on the next General Election was premature. He stated that WP makes a concerted effort to field competent candidates who can genuinely represent Singapore’s interests, and this practice will continue.
“But certainly you make decisions at the material time when you’re fielding candidates, and you try your best to find out as much as you can about those individuals, however, you cannot legislate for what they will do after they become candidates.”
“I think once you know that there are certain issues that have come up then in good conscience I cannot field them as candidates again if I am aware of those facts.”
On Singaporeans’ trust and confidence on WP
A reporter from Mothership referred to former WP MP Raeesah Khan’s resignation in 2021 and questioned Mr Singh on how WP plans to regain the trust and confidence of Singaporeans.
In response, Mr Singh cautiously addressed the Raeesah Khan case, as it is subject to a live investigation. However, he emphasized that Parliament is a vital forum for the Workers’ Party to earn the trust of Singaporeans.
“Singaporeans expect the Workers Party to hold the government to account to make sure that we don’t have a one-party dominant state, that is overwhelmingly the hands of the PAP, and we have to continue to work hard to encourage and persuade good Singaporeans to come forward, and be part of a balancing force, which is in Singapore’s interest.”
“We are better in a stronger country with a good opposition, and I’m not specifically referring to the Workers Party, I’m saying opposition in general because I don’t want to blow the party’s trumpet.”
Mr Singh asserted that WP would continue their work in the Town Councils and advance their agenda and interests in other constituencies where they are not encumbered.
He emphasised that the party will do so with a balanced approach in Parliament, avoiding baseless allegations and ensuring well-thought-out proposals.