Like others before him, is Leong Mun Wai the latest victim thrown under the bus by Pritam Singh?

like others before him is leong mun wai the latest victim thrown under the bus by pritam singh

Sometime in Parliament last week, a strange revelation cropped up. As we might recall, there was a poor West Coast couple who supposedly cried wolf about not receiving any help from the government. It led Mr Leong Mun Wai from the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) to swoop in with guns blazing to blast the PAP for its supposed nonchalance. Unfortunately for Mr Leong, political suicide, rather than political points, was what he came away with. Falsehoods to the story were all the excuses needed by rebels within the PSP to oust him as Sec-Gen. 

Just when we thought that was the end of the story, things have only gotten more intriguing. Like a plot twist straight out of a Harlan Coben thriller, it turned out that Leader of Opposition (LO) Pritam Singh was the one who handed the case to Mr Leong, even though they are from different parties. So, it was no random encounter? No big deal. In fact, there is nothing inherently problematic with the entire scenario until one realised that it had taken Mr Singh four whole years to respond to the couple, who first wrote to him in 2020. 

Throughout that time that the letter found itself languishing in Mr Singh’s files, a pandemic had come and gone, two hot wars had erupted, and Singapore had elected a new president. The point here is that four years is a pretty long time. And if the couple were in dire need when they first sought help, four years might as well be an eternity, ending with disastrous consequences if the Government and charities have not stepped up and render them aid all this time. 

But here are some basic questions. What took the LO four years to reply to a letter? Is he really that busy, or was it sheer incompetence? For a start, Mr Singh claimed he could not remember if he had replied to the couple. Fair enough, it has been four (very long) years. But in a moment of serendipity, he chanced upon the letter many moons later just when a civil war was raging within the PSP. After all this time, it is common sense to assume that the beleaguered West Coast couple has received help from relevant agencies. Because if not, they would have made the headlines of the evening tabloids. 

As the logical aspect of the case starts to unravel, even more questions have arisen. Did Mr Singh bother to check if any agencies have been helping the couple over the last four years? Did he inform Mr Leong to check on that when he bizarrely handed the case to the then PSP Secretary General? After all, it does seem rather amateur, even for Mr Leong, to accuse the PAP the way he did without confirming the facts. 

Subsequently, things have only gotten stranger when Mr Singh made a very odd statement in Parliament in his attempt to explain the situation. 

“When we know of residents who are in trouble, who are in need or who are in difficulty, it is not in the Workers Party’s (WP) interests to go online and to point fingers at government agencies, point fingers at organisations like SSO for no rhyme or reason.” Despite having first passed him the case on a silver platter, is the LO actually ticking off Mr Leong for pointing finger at the agencies online? 

By now, we know how it ended for Mr Leong. PSP was quick to remove him as their Secretary-General. For that, we applaud the PSP for showing good governance and accountability.  

But what about Mr Pritam Singh? Can we expect the WP to act in a decisive manner about its leader? That is because ignoring the plight of Singaporeans asking for help and capitalising on them to bring down another political opponent is just the tip of the iceberg and one of a litany of dubious incidents that characterise the actions of the WP leader in the last two years or so. At what point will WP party members put their foot down to say enough is enough? Short of getting away with murder, is it fair for Mr Singh to be given such leeway following another embarrassing screw-up? 

The disturbing conduct of Pritam Singh

As a politician, Pritam Singh is as charismatic as it gets by Singapore standards. An expert at equivocation that is often confused with shrewdness, Mr Singh is unnaturally calm in the line of fire. Contrast this with the stuttering Leong Mun Wai or the coterie of firebrand misfits such as Chee Soon Juan and Kenneth Jeyaretnam. It is a no-brainer why opposition supporters are enthralled by Mr Singh, whom they believe is their prophet to break the PAP monopoly in government. 

But the problem with this blind adoration is how it has emboldened the LO to trample all over people with medieval ruthlessness. In our desire for a two-party system, are Singaporeans turning too much of a blind eye to Pritam Singh’s dishonest tactics? And yet, one thing is clear, in the grand scheme of things, Mr Leong from the PSP is simply the latest in a long list of casualties to have incurred the wrath of Pritam Singh. Before him, fellow WP comrades were not spared from the chopping board to safeguard Mr Singh’s position and reputation. Just ask Daniel Goh, Raeesah Khan, and activists Loh Pei Ying and Yudhishthra Nathan. All of whom were some of the most loyal and committed WP members who spoke up against Mr Singh. Once assets to the WP, they were reduced to nothing more than liabilities and stumbling blocks in the days leading up to their sacking.  

These days, as much as die-hard WP fans have chosen to look the other way over the Raeesah Khan affair, there is no denying that Mr Singh’s conduct in the entire debacle is deplorable and left much to be desired. Instead of encouraging Ms Khan to come clean, what kind of leader tells a fellow MP to “take the information to the grave” when he discovered the lie? And when things got out of hand, convened a disciplinary committee comprising of people who knew Ms Khan was told to lie and sacked her.  

As the Chinese would say, 纸包不住. Because just as paper cannot contain fire, the truth will always come out. In the case of Pritam Singh vs Raeesah Khan, all hell broke loose when the Committee of Privileges (COP) pressed the LO to explain his role in Ms Khan’s lies. When pushed into a corner, Mr Singh decided that it might be a good idea to insinuate that Ms Khan is mentally unstable as a deflection strategy. 

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Mr Singh turned the knife when he spoke openly about Ms Khan’s sexual assault case, something he had no right to repeat in public. It is little wonder that loyal activists like Ms Loh and Mr Nathan felt compelled to speak up. How could one forget the image of Ms Loh’s emotional testimony during the COP hearing? “It pains me greatly. But to me, beyond anything else, it is important to be truthful to my country,’’ a teary Miss Loh told the Committee. 

Looking at the sequence of events, the role in which Pritam Singh played in leading Raeesah Khan down a rabbit hole of no return is shocking. There was clearly a power imbalance that tilted in the favour of Mr Singh, and it was something the LO exploited fully to gaslight and manipulate the narrative. All of this is disappointing. After all, the WP leader ought to be an inspiration and role model to many Singaporeans. And yet, in the climb up the totem pole, Mr Singh seems to have parted ways with his honour and integrity in exchange for power and glory. 

Going back to the COP hearings, many Opposition supporters are keen to pin the blame on Ms Khan. However, Mr Singh’s appalling behaviour during the proceedings has not gone unnoticed. Following recommendations made by the COP, Parliament voted in February 2022 to refer Mr Singh and fellow WP MP Mr Faisal Manap to the Public Prosecutor for further investigations. Right now, the million-dollar question is, did the LO blatantly lie under oath? Moreover, will we see former WP members testify against their former leader for a second time round?  

Finally, why is the probe taking so long? It has been two years since the investigations into Mr Singh’s conduct began, and an insatiable curiosity means we are desperately seeking answers. But as we sat grumbling how two years is such a long time, let us remember this. Two years is still half the time it took Pritam Singh to answer a letter. And a police investigation is no doubt more complicated than crafting an email.  


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