Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock has questioned the ‘apparent contradiction’ in Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam’s statements during a parliamentary session earlier this week.
In the session on Tuesday (4 October), Aljunied Member of Parliament Sylvia Lim had asked the government to publish the Attorney-General’s Chamber’s advice on the timing of the reserved presidential election, to which Shanmugam replied that, as a general rule, the government does not publish legal opinions that it gets.
However, as Tan pointed out in a Facebook post published on Saturday (7 October), Shanmugam had told the media last September that the government would make the advice public.
The Minister was quoted in a Channel News Asia report, “Once we get the advice, we will send it out. Certainly by the time the Bill gets to Parliament, which is in October, I think we will have a position and will make it public.”
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”.
Additionally, Tan took issue with the fact that Shanmugam responded to the adjournment motion by Lim, while Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing “sat quietly behind”.
Given that Lim’s motion questioned the three ministers’ statements to Parliament and whether they had indeed misled the house, they should have been the ones answering it, instead of Shanmugam, said Tan.
“One would have expected the PM, DPM or Minister Chan to speak for themselves and clarify their own words. After all, they are the government’s top leaders,” Tan said.
“In fact, PM Lee should be the one answering Ms Lim. This debate started with PM’s statement on taking AG’s legal advice. Why he remained silent during this parliamentary debate continues to baffle many Singaporeans.”