'We had no idea of Yaw's alleged affairs': WP

Workers' Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang has clarified that he and the party's election committee had 'absolutely no idea' of expelled member Yaw Shin Leong's alleged extramarital affairs when they decided to field him as a candidate in last May's General Election.

In a letter to Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, Mr Low write: "Even though I was familiar with Yaw Shin Leong's background and I have met his family and attended his two wedding ceremonies, I have no way and no authority to inspect his private matters and personal life.

"I am a Member of Parliament, not a private investigator!" said Mr Low.

News reports said that he also questioned how former People's Action Party MP Ho Kah Leong wanted Mr Low to take responsibility for the Yaw Shin Leong saga.

Mr Low was replying Mr Ho's criticism on how WP's conduct in this matter.

Three days ago, Mr Ho, a former senior parliamentary secretary, said in a letter to Lianhe Zaobao that he found it hard to believe Mr Low had not known anything about Mr Yaw's personal life and family.

Mr Ho also questioned if the WP had stringent selection criteria for its candidates and asked Mr Low to take responsibility.

Mr Low replied that although he had worked with Mr Yaw for many years, he and the committee that pick election candidates had no idea of the allegations until media reports emerged last month.

The Straits Times said that Mr Low's statement is the strongest denial yet that the WP leaders knew nothing about the alleged indiscretions of Hougang MP, who has reportedly fled the country. Last Friday, sources said he was in Vietnam.

In his letter, Mr Low also rebutted Mr Ho on several points.

He said his relationship with Mr Yaw had been that of working colleagues, and not the 'master-apprentice' tie described by Mr Ho.

Mr Low also refuted Mr Ho's criticism that the expulsion seemed hasty and careless. Mr Ho had said that Mr Yaw should have been given a chance to explain himself.

However, Mr Low argued that it had been a month since the first media reports on the allegations had started before they decided to sack Mr Yaw.

"From start to finish, Yaw Shin Leong did not step forward to state his stand, and refused to explain himself to the executive council," wrote Mr Low. The WP then 'had no choice but to expel him'.

Mr Low reiterated that the WP expelled Mr Yaw 'because he was irresponsible and had lost the public's trust'.

Finally, he rebutted Mr Ho's charge that the WP was abusing the democratic system by calling for a by-election - which requires a lot of public resources - to uphold the party's image.