Question remains as to why PM Lee 'stayed silent' during motion on EP: Tan Cheng Bock

Hannah Teoh
Senior Content Producer
Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock (left) and Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam crossed swords online over the reserved presidential election. Yahoo News Singapore file photo

In a response to Law Minister K Shanmugam’s post accusing him of engaging in “elaborate charades”, former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock said on Sunday (8 Oct) that his question as to why the Prime Minister “stayed silent” during the adjournment motion on the Elected Presidency remains unanswered.

On Saturday (7 Oct), Tan had commented on Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam’s statements during a parliamentary session last week, saying that Shanmugam made an “apparent contradiction” about whether the government would make public the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ advice on the timing of the reserved election.

Citing a Channel NewsAsia report from 2016 that quoted Shanmugam as saying “Once we get the advice, we will send it out”, Tan noted that the minister had told the House last Tuesday (3 Oct) that, as a general rule, the government does not publish legal opinions that it gets.

Tan said that the report “appears to have words opposite to what the Minister mentioned”, and asked if the minister would “explain to Singaporeans his apparent contradiction”.

Shanmugam responded on Sunday by accusing Tan of “splicing and rearranging” his remarks. The minister also said he was referring to making the government’s position public, and not making the AGC’s advice public.

In a Facebook post written two hours after Shanmugam’s rebuttal, Tan reiterated his question about why the prime minister did not speak during Sylvia Lim’s adjournment motion. Shanmugam had said that adjournment motions have strict time limits, and that he spoke on behalf of the government as Law Minister during Lim’s motion.

Tan said in his latest post, “But I never asked about parliamentary procedure. I simply asked why the PM stayed silent. PM could have spoken during those 10 minutes since his statement was being challenged.”

Tan said he would let readers decide whether the minister answered adequately, and whether Tan had unfairly misquoted him. Shanmugam had said that Tan should not engage in “elaborate charades” even if he “may be bitter”.

Tan added, “On my part, I can assure the Minister that I am still cheerful. But I think the Minister, who said ‘I’m happy to be confronted with anything else I might have said’ didn’t sound so happy when he saw my questions.”

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