SINGAPORE: Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has debunked a claim he says was advanced by The Online Citizen Asia (TOCA), that suggests he had something to do with a story AsiaOne published on the affair between Workers’ Party (WP) members Leon Perera and Nicole Seah. Both members have since resigned from the party.

TOCA published an article yesterday (19 July) asking how AsiaOne, a Singapore Press Holdings publication, so quickly managed to secure an interview with Mr Perera’s former driver a video of Mr Perera and Ms Seah holding hands was leaked online.

Questioning how mainstream media outlets knew how to reach out to the ex-driver and how they knew he had information on the affair, TOCA asked: “How was AsiaOne able to contact Wong and conduct as well as produce a video interview, all within less than a day of the video leak?”

TOCA claimed that it “uncovered a potential connection that could possibly explain AsiaOne’s prompt reporting,” and cited unnamed sources to claim that AsiaOne’s Consumer Insights and Analytics Office Edmund Chua had been in contact with the ex-driver for over a year.

Although TOCA said that AsiaOne denied Mr Chua’s involvement in the story, it said that Mr Chua “was an employee in the Prime Minister’s office for close to five years until 2019 and has been a Data Analyst for Chong Pang Grassroots Organizations since 2008 – an entity headed by Minister for Home Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmugam.”

The article seemed to suggest that AsiaOne may have had ulterior reasons for releasing the interview, given Mr Chua’s connections with the Ministers, and suggested that the interview may have been timed to distract from another extramarital affair scandal involving two ruling party MPs.

Casting doubts that the Law Minister may have had something to do with the AsiaOne story, TOCA speculated: “Furthermore, Minister K Shanmugam decided to pay a visit to AsiaOne’s new office just days before the leaked video emerged, and AsiaOne reported on the visit on the same day the video was leaked.”

Mr Shanmugam has vehemently denied the suggestions TOCA has made in its article. Calling the article “false” in its references to himself, the minister clarified: “First there is a suggestion that an employee of AsiaOne, Edmund Chua used to work in my Constituency. That is so. The innuendo is that I must have tipped off Edmund to contact the ex driver of Mr Perera, and that is how Asia One managed to get him.

“This is false. I do not know the ex driver, I do not have his contact or name, and I did not tip off or give any information on the ex driver to anyone including AsiaOne – I have no such information. And I haven’t dealt with or spoken with Edmund Chua about this matter at all.”

Revealing that he was not even in Singapore when the scandal broke, the Minister said: “TOCA refers to a visit to I made to AsiaOne. It was not days before the video surfaced . I wasn’t even in Singapore for a week, until the evening of 17 July (Monday).

“I visited AsiaOne on 13 June, to speak with its journalists. I also visited Mothership, in the same period, on 22 June. This is part of my regular engagement with a broad section of society, including public and private institutions, schools, IHLs, journalists from mainstream and online media and so on.”

He added, “TOCA continues to publish recklessly, without any regard for the truth.”