Everything About What PM Lee Said During COP Debate Summarised for You

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that there was a Parliament hearing yesterday to discuss the recommendations put out by the Committee of Privileges (COP) with respect to the Workers’ Party (WP) saga.

Of course, we couldn’t go through such an important hearing without the big boss, right?

And unless you’ve somehow got four hours to spare, you probably won’t want to go through the entire hearing just to fish out the main points discussed during the debate.

So we’ve done that for you, and here’s what PM Lee had to say during the hearing.

Importance of Honesty in Parliament

I mean, duh.

PM Lee started off his speech by emphasising the point that in Parliament, “clear norms and incorruptible values are essential to protect the dignity and standing” of it.

He also said that without proper conduct, the system will fail, making proper conduct, therefore, all the more important when in Parliament.

“Tell the truth always and do the right thing by Singapore, even when it is hard or awkward, in fact, especially when it’s hard or awkward.

“And if something goes wrong or something wrong has been done, own up and take responsibility. Do not hide, dodge or spin further lies, obfuscate and cover up the original fib,” he mentioned, highlighting the utmost importance of honesty in Parliament. (And maybe shading WP a little.)

During a later part of his speech, he brought this topic up again, citing that the lack of honesty in Parliament would lead to a loss of trust in the public towards politicians.

He then went on to explain that Parliament has the responsibility to ensure that its members are speaking the truth at all times so as to allow Singaporeans to continue trusting the government and Parliament.

“If we let flagrant, egregious transgressions pass, it will erode trust in our leaders, respect for Parliament and support for our whole political system and Singapore would be heading for trouble,” he concluded.

TL;DR: Basically, PM Lee said that honesty is the best policy lah.

WP Leaders’ Fault

If the earlier part of his speech was just him shading WP slightly, this part was definitely a full-blown call out.

He addressed the common question of why the WP leaders were slapped with heavier punishments under the circumstance that the COP’s findings were accurate.

“They lied under oath to protect themselves, to cover up their role, and to push the blame solely onto Ms Khan, claiming that she and other witnesses, like Ms Loh, had lied to the Committee. This is indeed more serious than what Ms Khan did,” he explained.

So both them and Raeesah Khan lied and are in the wrong, but Raeesah Khan never sabo anyone lah.

“If it is so, by lying under oath, they sought to frustrate the Committee process. They displayed the same kind of misconduct that the Committee was set up to address.

“They betrayed the trust reposed in them as MPs – and not least Mr Pritam Singh, the Leader of the Opposition. This, I hope members appreciate, if true, is a very grave matter.”

The Public’s Response

PM Lee also discussed the public’s response, in particular WP supporters’ response to the recommendations made by the COP.

Stating that “they are doing their best to confuse the issues and arouse sympathy”, PM Lee suggested that these supporters have been jumping straight into blindly supporting the WP even before Parliament has arrived at a decision.

By calling the referral of Singh and Faisal to the public prosecutor “political persecution, PM Lee said that pro-WP users on social media are trying to take the spotlight away from Singh’s mistakes, and to only remember him as the Leader of the Opposition “because who he is is more important than what he has done”.

Although some may sympathise with the WP’s plight and ask for a compromisation, PM Lee insisted that “As long as the PAP is the Government, we will not shy away from doing whatever is necessary to uphold the right norms in this house and to imbue Singaporeans and their leaders with the values critical to sustain trust in the system and critical to our success.”

He also pointed out that PAP would continue to take action, even if it meant that more work would have to be done by the government.

Rationale Behind the COP’s Actions

PM Lee also brought up the other possible recommendations that the COP could have come up with, some of which could consist of lighter penalties.

However, he argued that such recommendations would reflect poorly on the Parliament as a whole.

“That would show that we were taking a very serious matter rather lightly. Worse, by lowering our norms, we would be telling Singaporeans that it is really not so bad for elected leaders to lie,” he explained.

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Alternatively, if the COP had recommended Parliament to come up with a suitable penalty by itself (which the Parliament can do), “the opposition would surely have cried foul, and accused the PAP of using its majority to persecute the opposition”.

He also added that the WP was “already insinuating this” to shift attention from the fact that they had lied in Parliament while under solemn oath.

He then expressed his agreement with the actions that the COP took, supporting the fact that Raeesah Khan’s fine is justifiable considering the fact that she is “guilty beyond doubt”.

Apart from that, he also mentioned that WP’s Dennis Tan, the only COP member from the opposition, said she should be fined even more for the second time she lied in Parliament.

On How WP Should React

PM Lee also said that he would have “voted in favour of both motions” if he were Pritam Singh, especially if Singh continues to insist that none of the WP leaders have done anything wrong.

He then continued by saying, “He (Pritam Singh) should demand a court trial, in order to have the full opportunity to defend himself, vindicate his reputation and clear his name. That is what I would do if I were Mr Singh.”

“If they are innocent, they have nothing to fear,” PM Lee concluded.

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Featured Image: YouTube (govsg)