Halimah Yacob repeatedly shuts down Chen Show Mao before he can pose question to PM Lee

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Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC, Chen Show Mao revealed on his Facebook page this week that he had to ask a parliamentary question thrice before Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob allowed him to pose the question to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Chen wanted to clarify when a political appointee should seek litigation to clear his or her name and when that individual should use a public setting such a Parliament to address allegations against them.

“I’d like to ask the Prime Minister at the next Parliamentary sitting: “When should a Minister or political appointee go to court to defend his or her reputation and when should he or she refrain from private litigation and seek instead to address such allegations publicly, such as in Parliament?”

The Workers’ Party politician was perhaps referring to the Prime Minister’s decision to rebut allegations of abuse of power leveled against him by his own siblings in Parliament, instead of suing them as is his norm when his name and reputation have been questioned in the past.

The Prime Minister’s seeming penchant for suing individuals under defamation laws is one that is perhaps bequeathed to him by past Prime Ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. Almost 20 years ago, Goh asserted:

“If they’ve defamed us, we have to sue them — because if we don’t, our own integrity will be suspect. We have an understanding that if a minister is defamed and he does not sue, he must leave cabinet. By defamation, I mean if somebody says the minister is … less than honest. If he does not rebut it, if he does not dare go before the court to be interrogated by the counsel for the other side, there must be some truth in it.”

Amid accusations that the Prime Minister chose Parliament to clear his name as it is a setting where his siblings cannot speak up as opposed to a court of law, the head of government had said that he is refraining from suing his siblings as he does not wish to further besmirch their parents’ name.

Chen, however, was almost prevented from asking his question to the Prime Minister at all.

In response to his question, Halimah asserted that his question is not permitted as he is asking “about matters concerning decisions made by Ministers or political appointees in their personal capacity.”

She then cited the Standing Orders, according to which “a question shall not contain arguments, inferences, opinions, imputations, epithets or tendentious, ironical or offensive expressions;” and “a question shall not be asked as to the character or conduct of any person except in his official or public capacity.”

“In view of this, do you wish to withdraw your question,” Halimah asked.

Chen then respectfully declined before rephrasing his question:

“The question relates (and I have revised its wording to make it clearer) to defending one’s reputation as a Minister or political appointee in his or her official capacity as Minister or political appointee, as the case may be. Has there been, for example, as alleged an abuse of one’s official position as a government Minister?”

The Speaker of Parliament shut his question down once again, saying that his “question has also been ruled inadmissible as it seeks an expression of an opinion.” She added:

“It is also not the function of Government to decide whether a Minister should seek court action to defend his reputation or refrain from doing so. Such decisions are made by the Minister himself.”

Chen declines again and rephrases his question a third time, clarifying that he is not seeking a personal opinion from the PM but an answer “on the norms upheld in his government among his Ministers and political appointees, as they relate to the issue of defending their reputation for honest dealing in their official or public capacity.”

He was then finally permitted to ask the PM this tweaked version of his original question:

“What are the rules, directives, practices, understandings, standards and norms governing the circumstances under which a Minister or political appointee should defend his reputation in his official capacity in the courts or refrain from such court action and address allegations publicly, such as in Parliament.”

PM Lee Hsien Loong later replied: “I have addressed this in my Ministerial Statement on 3 July 2017. Any Minister who is accused of improper conduct must clear his name publicly. He should not allow the allegations to fester and affect the reputation of the Government. If it is a serious allegation, I would expect the Minister to take court action for defamation, unless there are other special considerations. He may also need to render account in Parliament, particularly if the matter concerns his discharge of public duties and is of public interest. These are not mutually exclusive options. In all cases, there must be public accounting.”

Netizens responding to Chen’s Facebook post accused the Speaker of Parliament of showing partiality. Their comments are especially notable as it is expected that Halimah will resign from her seat as an elected parliamentarian to contest the upcoming reserved presidential election. It remains to be seen whether she will prove to be a neutral candidate and potential head of state should she choose to contest the election.

Here is Chen Show Mao’s original Facebook post.

 

149 COMMENTS

  1. I thought the PM already said tough questions can be asked during Parliament. But how now come the Speaker dare not allow such questions to be asked then ? So was it all a staged drama only when only the PM can have the cake and eat it too ?

  2. You can see what kind of president she is going to be. She was a mediocre lawyer fit only to do CASE law work. Than spent her life in ntuc. Than elevated from mp to speaker , strike lottery 500k a year so now showing off to boss she should be president to earn millions. Membership has its privileges. Nevermind u have no ability or any talent. Just be an Indian..oopps Malay…so confusing.

  3. FROM MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, SHE IS A “PERFECT CRONY”. THIS IS HOW SHE CAN PARACHUTE INTO THE WAYANG PARLIAMENT FROM NTUC EXECUTIVE TO BECOME MP.

    THEN FROM MP PROMOTED TO PARLIAMENT SPEAKER, THEN HOPEFULLY TO PRESIDENT.

  4. “When should a Minister or political appointee go to court to defend his or her reputation and when should he or she refrain from private litigation and seek instead to address such allegations publicly, such as in Parliament?”

    That was likely the question in everyone’s head too…

  5. I’ve always noticed her interrupting opposition MPs when they speak. I even noticed it during the recent parliament session when LTK was making his speech and then there was a scene where the clown prince reached forward for something. Soon after that, this puppet started to interrupt LTK’s speech. I believe there is a secret button for him to push to instruct this puppet to disturb opposition MPs. Refer back to that video and try to notice what I’ve mentioned.

  6. What another dimwit hopful of becoming an immitation or half-baked Malay to be selected by master pinkie for hitting a jackpot prize through cronyism and obedience like Mr Bean’s favourite teddy bear!

  7. honestly…would the pap have it any other way….parliament here only serves as a rubber stamp for policies with little meaningful debate. Many a time speeches made by the pap mps are cringe worthy more suited for kids slugging it out on the playground. We might soon have a chamber without any opposition MPs since the pap is hell bent on taking back AHTC one way or another. A single party parliament would be viewed as a ‘normal’ democracy in the pap’s books.

  8. Let’s see if she dare to do that to PAP ministers, including the PM once she’s installed as President of the Republic of Singapore… forgone conclusion, right? One way or another… I will never dare to do it to my boss if they increase my salary three fold…

  9. she is no match for chen, tried to stop him using technicalities, but chen revised the same question twice and she lost. who’s the better lawyer?
    out of touch trash, she said, ‘meat too expensive, eat fish.’

  10. Will you be voting for her? Funny, so much negative opinion of her yet come the day of reckoning, she’ll still be in the position of getting her millions. My whimsical musing!

  11. Do u want a President that shut u up before u can open your mouth? I thought President is supposed to listen and help the countrymen and not FTs? Hmm… like Princess Diana. Really nobody can replace her

    • SHE’S CERTAINLY “NOT UNBIAS” PERSON OTHERWISE HOW COULD SHE BE ABLE TO PARACHUTE INTO THE WAYANG PARLIAMENT AS MP. FROM NTUC EXECUTIVE.

      WHEN SHE WAS THE NTUC EXECUTIVE AND I HAD WORK RELATED ISSUE AND I WAS FORMERLY AN UNION MEMBER AND I TRULY NEEDED HER HELP TO SOLVE IT.

      SHE SAID SHE’D “GET BACK TO ME” BUT “NEVER” AT ALL. WHY? BECOS I WAS WORKING IN THE CIVIL SVS AND THAT WOULD AFFECT THE REPUTATION. I HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO RESIGN.

      NTUC IS THE ROTTON GOVT’S CRONY AGENCY, WHICH IS THE “SUPPLIER” IF MANY CRONY MP AND SR MINISTERS (LONG LIST YOU CAN CHECK IT OUT) TO THE WAYANG PAP PARLIAMENT.

      TO NAME A FEW – JOSEPHINE TEO, ONG YE KUN (THIS ONE FOLLOW HER FOOT STEP TOO, ALSO RELATED TO MY IN INCIDENT AFTER HALIMAH STEPPED DOWN), LIM BOON HENG, LIM SWEE SAY…….

  12. In our politic the politician that voices out the peoples concerned were quickly killed off by the the people that rule the country. There no more justice here. The ruling party only concerned their power and wealth .

    • SHE KNOWS HOW TO PLAY HER CARD WELL. I DON’T THINK SHE WOULD EVER BEHAVE LIKE ONG TC TO QUESTION ON THE RESERVES. SHE’D FLOW ALONG WITH ROTTON PAP GOVT SO AS TO GUARD HER RECORDS AND MILLION $ SALARY.

  13. For decades, the first in s’pore history that we have a s’pore chameleon president… That explain why s’pore is exceptional in everything including the head of state.

  14. If she does contest in the PE, and provided PAP doesn’t engineer a walkover, I hope she lose disastrously.
    That way she would be out of Parliament and go back to her NTUC job as a third rate lawyer.

  15. WP should start a weekly or bi-monthly video clip showing the public on topics the govt does not want to let us know the truth or discussion! In this way, the govt will have no choice but to hear it out at the debate.

  16. The Indian Muslim women set up her own law to prevent opposition MPs to ask questions about our arrogant dictator PM abused of power openly & yet dare not to sue his Brother in Court for Defamation!! 無尾狗的獨裁,專制,厚臉皮,沒人格的新加坡縂理 !全球的人都知道了!還不要下台?

  17. Mdm Speaket Halima Yacob, I doubt you can be a good President. By disallowed CSM to question the PM since PM had ask every MP to questions him in Paliarment on 3rd of July. You have proven to be a yes woman. Lets alone be an honest President.

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