A PAP MP has once again cast aspersions that WP’s Leon Perera is motivated by commercial interests when discharging his responsibilities as Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP).
Junior Minister Chee Hong Tat postulated that Perera’s remarks over amendments to a tobacco bill were motivated by considerations of financial gain, in Parliament today.
In the debate about the bill, Perera had asked to “allow confirmed smokers access to e-cigarettes, at least for a certain period of time, as part of their efforts to quit smoking or reduce consumption.”
Chee later picked on Perera and said:
“During the debate, Mr Perera, in his speech, supported the use of e-cigarettes, which is also what tobacco companies have advocated.
“I’d like to seek clarification from Mr Perera, that I understand he’s the CEO of Spire Group which is a research and consulting company. I wanted to ask and confirm if the Member has any interest he wishes to declare.”
Perera appeared discomfitted by Chee’s audacious allusions and asserted: “My comments are not in any way motivated by any prospect of financial gain.”
“As a general matter of policy, the work my company does, does not pertain to tobacco business at all. And that’s a position we have taken historically, so I do not serve tobacco clients in my private capacity in the work that I do for this company.
“I take very strong objection to any implication that the opinions that I’ve expressed in my speech for the Tobacco Bill was motivated by commercial considerations in any way. They were motivated purely on matters of principle and matters of opinion.”
Chee, however, was not satisfied. He then asked:
“I had only asked the Member if he had any interest to declare. Can I also ask Mr Perera if Henkel, a key manufacturer of adhesives for cigarettes, is a client of the Spire group of which Mr Perera is CEO?
Mr Perera again asserted: “Henkel, I believe, has been a very small past client. But as I mentioned earlier, we don’t support tobacco companies. We don’t work with tobacco companies as clients … and therefore there is no commercial motivation in the comments I’ve made.”
He appeared to move away from the rostrum before returning to stress:
“And I want to register my very strong objection to any insinuation that there is any commercial motivation to the comments that I’ve made.
“They are matters of principle…matters of my own opinion and they are not motivated by any prospect of financial gain or commercial gain.
“So I want to register a very strong objection to that.”
WATCH: The exchange between Chee Hong Tat and The Workers' Party's Leon Perera over the tobacco bill. At issue – whether Mr Perera’s consulting firm deals with tobacco-linked companies.
Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday, 7 November 2017
This is not the first time a PAP member has cast aspersions upon the opposition politician.
About a year ago, another PAP parliamentarian alluded that Perera had commercial interests in mind when he took issue with the WP’s statement expressing concern over investigations into breaches of Cooling-Off Day regulations.
The ruling party MP, Tan Wu Meng, suggested that Perera and the WP, as a result, “could be seen as having an interest in the outcome of the investigation” since one of the websites being investigated was The Independent.
Perera was a advisory board member of The Independent at the time. Although Perera was not involved in the operation or management of The Independent, he has since chosen to vacate his role to ensure that any perceived link to TISG does not distract public attention when policy positions are taken by the WP.
Tan, a Jurong GRC MP, had said:
“The Workers’ Party has issued a statement expressing concern over investigations into breaches of the Parliamentary Elections Act, in particular the Cooling-Off Day rules.
“We should let the law take its course.
“WP Central Executive Committee Member and NCMP Mr Leon Perera has been linked to “The Independent SG” (TISG), one of the websites under investigation. This was not declared in WP’s statement.
“Given this, WP should be aware that it could be seen as having an interest in the outcome of the investigation, and that every effort should be made by WP to avoid the impression that WP is trying to interfere with the investigation.”
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