Singapore — There has been much negative reaction to a question posed on Monday (Jan 4) by former Workers’ Party (WP) election candidate Bernard Chen Jiaxi on the treatment of parliamentary questions, after Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin took to Facebook to explain the process and to remark that Mr Chen was trying to make an insinuation about it.
One of the harshest critics of Mr Chen has been former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng.
Mr Chen was the WP candidate in MacPherson Single-Member Constituency in the 2015 General Election. He lost to the People’s Action Party’s Tin Pei Ling in a three-cornered fight in that GE. He has since thanked the Speaker for the clarification and apologised to the MPs concerned. He has also said that he is no longer in politics.
Mr Chen had taken issue with the handling of a parliamentary question by WP MP Leon Perera (Aljunied GRC). The question was similar to a question submitted by Ms Tin. He had asked why her “question (deserved) the right of answer by the Minister and the accompanying media coverage, while Mr Perera’s question is relegated to that of a written question”.
Both Ms Tin and Mr Perera had asked questions about the Government’s plans for the live-streaming of Parliament proceedings.
The Speaker pointed out that Mr Perera had filed his Parliamentary Question as a written question and that if he had filed it as a question for oral answer, Mr Tan would have grouped it with Ms Tin’s question.
Mr Tan also linked a glossary to Parliamentary proceedings with his post which clarified that Members of Parliament can file questions for oral or written answers by the Government.
Mr Tan added: “Given his role as a politician, I thought that the person who posted this would understand this or to have checked how it works before posting. It seems clear what he is trying to insinuate.”
Mr Chen replied that he stood to be corrected and that he did not know that Mr Perera had filed the question as a written question. He thanked Mr Tan for the clarification as well as apologised to both Mr Perera and Ms Tin.
Mr Chen added: “I like to clarify that I am no longer a “politician” involved in politics, elections, or have any ambitions to run in a future election. I am just a citizen, and have no specific political affiliations. I don’t think I have any inklings as to the present workings of PAP, WP or Parliament.”
Many people online, who also appeared not to know that Mr Chen had left politics, criticised Mr Chen in the comments section of Mr Tan’s post.
One of the most liked comments was by Mr Cheng, who remarked: “Bernard Chen is one of the lowest ability members of the Workers’ Party.”
Mr Cheng also made another scathing personal comment about Mr Chen in a Facebook post of his own. He wrote: “Bernard Chen has always struck me as a low-intellect, low-quality opposition politician.” His post has since been taken down. /TISG
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