On April 24 2006, Mr Gomez went twice to the Election Department (ELD) with Ms Sylvia Lim.
The first time, they collected some political donation forms. The second time, after they had handed in the completed political donation forms, Ms Sylvia Lim requested an application form for a minority certificate. Mr Gomez then proceeded to fill up his minority certificate application form at the counter.
He was careful to do this in front of 2 TV cameras. So long as the TV cameras were on him, he continued to work on the form and asked an ELD officer questions about the application. But as soon as both cameramen left, Mr Gomez stopped filling up the form. He put the form in the envelope, put the envelope in his bag and walked away.
Two days later, on 26 April 2006 (eve of Nomination Day), Mr Gomez turned up at the ELD. He claimed that he had submitted an application for a minority certificate to the ELD on April 24. Again, he did this in the presence of the media. He demanded that the ELD staff check again and shook at finger to warn Ms Florence Tan, an ELD staff.
Again, in the presence of the media, Mr Gomez left his number and asked the ELD to call him before lunch. This was to show that he was upset and wanted urgent answers from the ELD before his candidacy on Nomination Day.
UNBEKNOWNST to Mr Gomez, the events on 24 April was captured by a security camera in the ELD.
At 1pm on 26 April, Ms Florence Tan called Mr Gomez and asked him to recount what happened on April 24.
At this time, Mr Gomez did not yet know about the security camera.
He told Ms Tan that he had asked for the form, filled it up ‘in front of the TV camera, the TV camera which was filming’ (meaning the TV camera of the media) and submitted it ‘with my colleague (who was Ms Sylvia Lim), so my colleague was with me all the time. I’ve checked with her and she confirmed also that the form was submitted and was accepted‘.
Mr Gomez thus provided 2 pieces of ‘supporting evidence’ that he had submitted the form: TV camera and Ms Sylvia Lim who corroborated his account.
At this point, Ms Tan then told him about the security CCTV camera and what it showed.
When exposed, Mr Gomez admitted that he did not submit the application form. He gave the excuse that he was distracted.
James Gomez: it was just another wayang
On April 27 when Mr Inderjit Singh went to Pei Chun Public School to file his papers as a member of the PAP team contesting in Ang Mo Kio GRC, he saw Mr Gomez and they had a friendly conversation. Mr Inderjit Singh asked Mr Gomez why he had made the mistake.
“In response, Mr Gomez laughed and told me and Mr Thiayagarajah that the minority certificate thing was just another ‘wayang’. He added that since there was speculation that he was contesting in Ang Mo Kio GRC, he decided to play along to make them think that he was contesting in Ang Mo Kio GRC,” Mr Inderjit Singh said.
Mr Inderjit Singh’s impression was that he had deliberately not submitted the application. “It was a ruse to mislead others. I was not amused but kept my sentiments to myself.” Mr Inderjit Singh said in a statement.
The CCTV footage also showed that Mr Gomez had lied that Sylvia Lim was with him all the time (and therefore was a witness to him submitting the form). She was not with Mr Gomez when he put the envelope in the bag. She therefore could not have seen the form being submitted or accepted. However, instead of coming clean, Sylvia Lim had sought to trivialise the matter by saying that the government was splitting hairs.
The entire incident was staged in order to damage the PAP Government and the Elections Department, by making it seem as if the department deprived him of a minority certificate for no good reason, hence preventing him from seeking election in a GRC.
What is at stake
On the eve of Nomination Day (26 April 2006), WP candidate Mr Gomez claimed in front of TV crew that he had been deprived by the ELD of his minority certificate.
In so doing, he was effectively charging that the PAP Government and its public servants had engaged in an unprincipled and criminal act to disqualify opposition candidates. He was playing an elaborate ‘wayang’ to claim that the PAP Government and the ELD had no integrity.
His deliberately dishonest act just before Nomination Day was meant to set the stage for many damaging allegations which Mr Gomez and the other Workers’ Party candidates would surely have made during the election campaign.
Mr Gomez would have accused the PAP of depriving him of his right to stand in a constituency of his choice. He would have questioned the integrity of the whole election process in Singapore. Other Workers’ Party candidates would have taken up the theme. The Government and the ELD would have been brought into disrepute.
What if there had been no security camera at ELD?
Had there been no security camera at ELD and Mr Gomez not been caught red-handed, would the truth have come out?
Would Mr Gomez have voluntarily informed ELD that he had made a mistake, and that actually had never submitted the form?
Or would he have maintained his false claim, using the supporting evidence that he had constructed – the media’s TV cameras and Ms Sylvia Lim – to make scandalous accusations and blacken the reputation of the ELD and the whole Government?
Even with the security camera recording, Mr Gomez has refused to come clean. What more if there had been no evidence against him, except the word of the ELD officials who dealt with him?
Mr Low Thia Khiang’s response
Mr Low’s response was to brush it aside, saying that it was an ‘honest’ and ‘unintentional’ mistake and to ‘move on’
In his first rally speech at the 2006 election, then MM Lee Kuan Yew expressed disappointment that Workers’ Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang had chosen to back such a candidate.
‘Tonight I want to take this opportunity to say how important integrity, quality and standards are. I have always thought watching Low in Parliament that he’s street smart compared to Chiam See Tong,’ MM Lee said.
But, referring to how Mr Chiam distanced himself from Chee Soon Juan when he found him to be ‘a bad egg’, he said: ‘Low Thia Khiang so far, I’m sorry to say, has not measured up to the standards of Chiam See Tong. He’s still trying to cover up, shield James Gomez.’
Since 2006, there have been several other lies and cover-ups by the Workers’ Party. Yet voters continue to vote for them, even with increasing share of votes. When will voters set a standard of integrity for WP?