Another day unfolds in Singapore politics.
Several ongoing dramas have occurred between various key political figures in Singapore lately.
Given the dramatic true crime documentaries you’ve seen, you might have expected a more theatrical clash in a parliamentary sitting that involved multiple politicians.
Unfortunately, at least in Singapore, it’s more anti-climatic than you think.
Who’s involved this time, and what’s it about?
Leong Mun Wai Seeks Apology from Murali Pillai with Formal Complaint
On 3 August, a debate centred on the Lease Agreements for Retail Premises Bill occurred.
Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai and Bukit Batok SMC MP Murali Pillai were involved in this debate.
Leong found himself compelled to file a formal complaint against Pillai, feeling that he had been misleadingly portrayed as advocating for rent control — a point he insists he never raised.
Leong denied mentioning anything about rent control in his speech.
To simplify things, Leong felt like he had been gaslighted into saying something he had never mentioned. This prompted him to file a formal complaint against Murali.
On 16 August, Mr Leong shared on Facebook that he had filed the complaint because Murali had reportedly ‘imputed improper motives’ to him during the debate.
Of the many things he shared, some of his sentiments in the post included: “This statement imputed improper motives to me as he had claimed I was advocating for rent control when I had not made any such statement during the debate.”
Leong mentioned that when he attempted to clarify with Murali, he appears to have stated three times that he did not assert that I had advocated “some form of low-rent control” despite expressly doing so earlier in his statement and refused to retract the said statement.
Therefore, Leong has sought a ruling from Speaker of Parliament Seah Kian Peng to intervene.
Leong also requested Murali retract his original statement and apologise if his claims proved true.
Both of Leong Mun Wai’s Complaints in Parliament Dismissed by the Speaker of Parliament
However, things didn’t escalate the way Leong had envisioned. It felt like things went downhill for him.
During a parliamentary session on 19 September, Speaker of Parliament Seah dismissed Leong’s complaint, asserting that Murali Pillai did not attribute any improper motives towards Leong during the 3 August debate.
Seah explained, “The words ‘improper motives’ imply something illegal, dishonest or morally wrong.”
“I have perused the relevant speeches recorded in Hansard, and I find that the rent control statement does not suggest or impute any improper motive on the part of Mr Leong.”
Reader: What is Hansard?
Hansard is the official transcript service for parliamentary debates.
It provides a comprehensive record of all statements made by Members of Parliament, allowing for detailed review in cases like these.
Continual Dismissal from Speaker of Parliament
Following the dismissal, Leong attempted to revisit the issue but was firmly shut down by Speaker of Parliament Seah.
At the end of the debate, Leong raised his hand to speak, to which Seah reinforced several times that he would not be reopening the discussion.
However, despite several attempts to shut down the debate, Leong tried to pose a question to Murali, which Seah deflected.
This led Leong to ask Seah the question instead in an attempt to ‘clarify’ whether he agreed that Leong never mentioned rent control.
Keeping his cool, Seah responded, “I’ve set out the context of the matter, and I’ve made my decision on the complaint that you have registered. I will not repeat myself. If you’re asking me for my personal decision, that is my personal decision.”
A video of the encounter was posted on TikTok on 18 September by user @whatdoyouthinkleh and has garnered over 15,000 views.
@whatdoyouthinkleh #seahkianpeng #leongmunwai #muralipillai #parliament ♬ original sound – WhatDoYouThinkLeh? 🇸🇬
The 52-second clip showed that Leong was persistent in asking the questions despite being dismissed from Seah, with Seah reiterating that his decision was “final”.
Second Complaint Filed Against Vivian Balakrishnan
In addition to his grievance against Murali, Leong filed another complaint against Vivian Balakrishnan, revisiting a ‘hot mic’ incident from 2021.
Leong demanded that Balakrishnan formally withdraw his remarks and have his apology officially recorded in Parliament following the incident where Balakrishnan had made condescending remarks in Parliament to Leong.
The comment was caught on live recording, where Balakrishnan could be heard asking someone, “Seriously, how did [Leong] get into RI? Must have been a lousy school.”
Balakrishnan apologised to Leong via phone call on 15 September 2021, Seah said.
“In my opinion, the complaint is out of time, by reason of the long passage of time. It was not made at the earliest opportunity as required,” Mr Seah said.
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