On Wednesday (19 Jul), Workers’ Party Secretary-General Pritam Singh confirmed the resignation of both the party’s senior members, Mr Leon Perera and Ms Nicole Seah over their affairs.
Mr Perera also resigned as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Aljunied GRC, while Ms Seah resigned from her party’s position as Youth Wing President.
Their resignation was prompted by a video that surfaced on social media on 17 July, hours before the announcement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of the resignations of the People’s Action Party’s former Speaker, Tan Chuan Jin and MP Cheng Li Hui over an affair that the two had since 2020.
When questioned about the timing and coincidence of the video exposing two former WP members’ affairs, WP Chief 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.’
“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.”
RP Sec-Gen and activist Kirsten Han shared their experience of being followed or surveilled
The resignation of four politicians, two from the PAP and two from the WP, due to personal indiscretions, has sent shockwaves through the entire city-state this week.
Commenting on the major blowout, Kenneth Jeyaretnam, Secretary General of the Reform Party (RP), and independent journalist and activist Kirsten Han highlighted their experiences of being followed or surveilled, which are “well-known among some opposition politicians and activists.”
During the press conference on Wednesday, WP Chief Pritam Singh revealed that, to the best of his knowledge, Mr Perera and Ms Seah started their relationship after the General Election 2020, but it ended some time ago.
However, 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.
Both former party members were not forthcoming when initially confronted with the allegations. Upon the video’s emergence on 17 July, Mr Singh confronted them again, leading to their confession about the affair.
In his recent blog, Mr Jeyaretnam highlighted that what hasn’t been revealed is the source of the video and expressed his interest in knowing how it was obtained.
“The video is quite slick. Good enough to make Nicole easily identifiable when she turns to show her whole face, even though the place appears to be lit only by candlelight.”
The video was leaked on Facebook by a fake profile known only as “Victoria Wang,” and the video post has since been deleted. Local media cited the video post as their source. However, the post had only tens of shares when the news first broke, hardly enough to be considered viral.
“We need a categorical denial that it wasn’t through the state’s covert surveillance of its citizens whether by ISD (Internal Security Department), PA (People’s Association) members or paid private investigators,” he said, emphasizing that ISD falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is Mr K Shanmugam’s responsibility.
Mr Jeyaretnam recalled an incident from last month when he and RP members visited the Yishun Chong Pang Market as part of a walkabout.
During the visit, they had an ‘interesting interaction’ with a group of individuals all dressed in white, who were presumed to be PAP grassroots members.
At that time, Mr Jeyaretnam and his team members entered the market and sat down to wait for other team members. They noticed several people around them wearing white attire.
He shared that one woman wearing the PAP uniform offered him a drink, which he politely declined, suspecting it might be an attempt to accuse him of being a drunkard.
Later, Mr Jeyaretnam encountered a man wearing a tie-dye shirt who questioned his opinion on whether the CPIB itself was corrupt. He also noticed two other people filming him in an unusual manner and without identifying themselves.
Mr Jeyaretnam pointed out that if an ordinary citizen were brazenly filmed chatting with him, they would run away. However, the tie-dye guy casually denied knowing them.
“Even when we started to leave, these shadowy individuals continued to film us using phones, ducking behind pillars or cars in the carpark when I tried to look at them. They even filmed us getting into a taxi and the taxi’s number plates, ” Mr Jeyaretnam recalled.
Shortly after, a photo of Mr Jeyaretnam sitting at the hawker centre making a vlog with his phone appeared on the PAP Nee Soon GRC Facebook page, an attempt to mock him, but it backfired with certain netizens.
Kirsten Han: It’s quite well-known among activists that we are sometimes filmed
Meanwhile, commenting on Mr Jeyaretnam’s blog, Ms Han noted that It’s quite well-known among activists that they are sometimes “surreptitiously (and not that surreptitiously) filmed”.
Often, they can only speculate about the identities of these people and the organizations they may be associated with—though the police and ISD are popular guesses—because they never identify themselves.
Regarding the video featuring Mr Perera and Ms Seah, while she cannot definitively determine where the footage came from and who shot it, she found Mr Jeyaretnam’s encounter at Chong Pang intriguing and familiar.
Ms Han recounted incidents from over 10 years ago, where she had encounters with individuals filming activists.
For instance, when delivering a clemency petition for Kho Jabing, she noticed a couple of guys across the street from the Istana’s side gate filming them.
Similarly, a few years ago, while delivering a letter from families of death row prisoners, she saw men at Plaza Singapura who seemed to be filming her and her friends as they set off for the Istana.
“They were hanging out for some time at the smoking corner, but not smoking. Instead, they were holding up phones at an angle that suggested they were filming. ”
Earlier this year, Ms Han was outside Changi Prison with a couple of advocacy group Transformative Justice Collective’s friends, waiting for Tangaraju’s family, she observed a man dressed casually, seemingly like a resident running errands, but he stood across the street from her group for an extended period, with his phone camera pointed at them.
She said she waved at the man and made a ‘V’ hand gesture, attempting to interact with him. However, he quickly moved behind a tiny tree, intentionally obscuring his face from view, while still holding his phone out, suggesting that he may have been persisting in filming or possibly taking photos of them.
Ms Han exercised caution and refrained from hastily concluding that the leaked video of Leon and Nicole was a result of ISD/surveillance activities.
However, after reading Mr Jeyaretnam’s blog post, she couldn’t help but recognize that the experience of being filmed and surveilled is “very well-known among some opposition politicians and activists, while the wider public might not be aware.”