Thursday, 21 September 2023

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PM Lee to nominate Seah Kian Peng as next Speaker of Singapore Parliament amid affair scandal

SINGAPORE — The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong plans to nominate Mr Seah Kian Peng as the next Speaker of Parliament.

This was announced via a press statement released on Friday (21 Jul).

Mr Seah, the Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC, previously served as Deputy Speaker from 2011 to 2016.

The Speaker’s position became vacant earlier this week when the former Speaker, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, resigned over an affair with Cheng Li Hui, a former MP for Tampines GRC, who also stepped down. Deputy Speaker Jessica Tan has assumed the role of Acting Speaker until a new appointment is made.

PM Lee plans to nominate the new Speaker at the upcoming Parliament sitting on 2 August, where he is also expected to deliver a ministerial statement.

In a press conference on Monday, PM Lee addressed the scandal, saying that the resignations of Mr Tan and Ms Cheng were necessary in order to uphold the People’s Action Party’s standards of propriety and personal conduct.

He revealed that he learned about the “inappropriate relationship” between the two officials after the 2020 General Election, and had advised both of them on multiple occasions, the most recent being in February 2023.

Upon receiving information that strongly suggested the relationship between Mr Tan and Ms Cheng was still ongoing, PM Lee made the decision for Mr Tan to step down.

He stated, “I decided then that Mr Tan had to go forthwith, whether or not the arrangements were ready. It could not wait any longer.”

During the press conference, PM Lee stressed the impropriety of such a relationship, saying, “I think it’s simply inappropriate to have a Speaker having a relationship with one of the MPs… It is not appropriate, it’s not acceptable.”

Mr Seah, the proposed next Speaker, has a notable background including his position as CEO of NTUC Fairprice from 2010 to 2022 and his role as chairperson of Social and Family Development Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) in the 14th Parliament.

He was also a member of the government’s Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods which saw to the introduction of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).

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