NCMP Leong Mun Wai asked to apologise and remove posts claiming he was 'deprived of the opportunity' to speak in Parliament

NCMP Leong Mun Wai asked to apologise and remove posts claiming he was 'deprived of the opportunity' to speak in Parliament

SINGAPORE - Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai has been asked to apologise for and remove his Facebook posts and comments claiming that the Speaker of Parliament had prevented him from speaking in the House.

On Tuesday (March 8), Deputy Leader of the House Zaqy Mohamad said Mr Leong had impugned Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and the process of Parliament, and also misrepresented how the debate proceedings for the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) were ended on Monday.

"This is dishonourable and a contempt of Parliament, and breaches the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act," he said.

Mr Zaqy's rebuke came after Mr Leong, who is from the Progress Singapore Party, made a Facebook post on Monday evening that said he was "deprived of the opportunity" to respond to Manpower Minister Tan See Leng's statement from last Friday and claimed that Mr Tan Chuan-Jin had used the debate cut-off time as an excuse.

Mr Leong's latest Facebook post was put up after Mr Tan Chuan-Jin had on Monday at about 4.10pm reminded all MPs about how the debate on the ministries' budgets work.

Mr Tan said that in calling upon MPs to speak, he gives opportunities to members from various parties, and that he keeps track of who has been called upon and who has not.

The Speaker of Parliament had cited earlier Facebook comments by Mr Leong on Monday at about 12.50pm saying that he had "a number of clarifications to make but the Speaker didn't even give me the chance" and calling it "completely ridiculous".

Earlier in the day, the NCMP had tried to ask questions at the close of the debate on MOM's budget.

On Tuesday, Mr Zaqy noted that Mr Leong had interrupted proceedings repeatedly when the cut-off time for the debate on MOM's budget was reached, and that the Speaker had informed Mr Leong that the allotted time was up.

Mr Zaqy said Mr Leong then made his Monday Facebook post despite Mr Tan's clarification in Parliament, and the fact that it was clear that the cut-off time had been reached.

His posts suggested that Mr Tan could have called on Mr Leong to speak but "deliberately did not do so for improper reasons", Mr Zaqy added.

He requested that Mr Leong take down his video post and caption from Monday, as well as his two Facebook comments made on Monday, by the end of Tuesday's Parliament session.

He also asked Mr Leong to apologise before the House and via a Facebook post for his words and actions, and asked him to include this statement, among other things: "I sincerely and unreservedly apologise to the Speaker in this House for my Facebook comments of 12.52pm and 12.53pm on March 7, 2022, and the video I posted at 6.55pm on March 7, 2022, and the statements therein which impugn the Speaker and the processes of Parliament without any basis.

"I have taken the posts down, I withdraw what I said in them and undertake not to repeat such words and actions again. I acknowledge that I had not set up all the facts in my posts, and thus gave a misleading impression."

Mr Leong was also asked to acknowledge that he had had every opportunity to raise the questions that he had wanted to ask during subsequent parliamentary question times.

Parliament can decide if further steps may be necessary, depending on how Mr Leong responds to the requests, said Mr Zaqy.

Mr Leong was not in the House when Mr Zaqy and Mr Tan spoke. Mr Zaqy said Mr Leong will be formally notified of this statement and the requests, and added that he will ensure they are brought to the NCMP's notice.

Under the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act, Parliament may punish an MP for any dishonourable conduct, abuse of privilege or contempt.

It can do so by imprisoning him for a term not exceeding the current term of Parliament, fine him up to $50,000, suspend him for the remaining term of Parliament or a part of it, or direct that he be admonished or reprimanded by the Speaker.


This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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