SINGAPORE: Addressing Parliament on Wednesday, Aug 2, PM Lee addressed the affair between former Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and former MP Cheng Li Hui.
PM Lee said he first learnt of their relationship in Nov 2020. They were both spoken to and counselled separately. They said they would stop the affair, but they did not, PM Lee said. In Feb 2023, Mr Tan admitted and offered to resign. A few weeks ago, PM Lee came across information that their relationship continued.
Why did he take so long, more than two years to act?
They have happened in the past, and no doubt will happen again in the future, he adds.
“In such cases, what we do depends on many factors: the circumstances, how inappropriate or scandalous the behaviour was, the family situations. We also have to be conscious of the impact on innocent parties – particularly the spouses and children,” the PM says.
He notes that this is not a new position and has been PAP’s long-standing practice since the days of Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
He cited three situations:
- Where the individuals involved will be talked to, and if they stop the affair, the matter ends there. No further action needs to be taken.
- Where one party has supervisory power over the other party, immediate action has been taken in a few past cases.
- Where the relationship raises some questions of propriety, beyond it being an extra-marital affair, the parties involved will be talked to. But even if the affair stops, some action has to follow, says PM Lee. What that action is and when it is taken depends on the facts and boundaries transgressed.
Mr Tan and Ms Cheng’s affair fell into the third category and was wrong, says PM Lee, adding that he had told them to stop it.
PM Lee said that the situation would have been different if the Speaker of Parliament was married to an MP.
With the time taken to address the matter, PM Lee says he had hoped to give Mr Tan and Ms Cheng a softer exit to save them and their families the pain and embarrassment they are suffering now.
This is an ongoing story and will be updated.
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