FURTHER ACTION BEING CONSIDERED: SHANMUGAM
Throughout his speech, Mr Shanmugam asked Mr Leong a series of pointed questions on whether he agreed with certain points the minister made on Monday.
When Mr Leong tried to elaborate while responding, Mr Tan reminded him to answer the questions directly and to make his own statements at the end of the minister’s speech.
At one point, Mr Leong objected to the questioning and said: “I am not going to answer the minister like (I’m) answering in court. This is a legislative chamber, this is not a legal chamber. I have my way of answering.”
Mr Shanmugam also asked Mr Leong to either substantiate or withdraw a statement that the Non-Constituency MP had made in Parliament on Monday – that the people involved in the Keppel Offshore & Marine (KOM) corruption case were “actually guilty”.
“One cannot under the cloak of parliamentary privilege make these sorts of statements about people and if he does not withdraw, then sir we will consider what else needs to be done,” said Mr Shanmugam.
When it was put to Mr Leong by Mr Shanmugam that it was untrue that all the individuals involved in the KOM case had been found guilty overseas, Mr Leong said: “If the minister says that they have not been found guilty overseas, then I’m prepared to withdraw my statement.”
Mr Shanmugam then said he was “glad” that Mr Leong had withdrawn his statement.
“SPEAKER, IF THE MINISTER DIDN’T ASK ME, I SUGGEST YOU DO NOT ASK”
When Mr Tan attempted to clarify with Mr Leong if he had indeed withdrawn his statement on the six individuals involved in the KOM case, Mr Leong replied: “Speaker, if the minister didn’t ask me, I suggest you do not ask.”
His response was met with an audible “wow” from Mr Shanmugam and a rebuke from Mr Tan, who said: “Can I just remind you (Mr Leong), as illustrated, I have been more than tolerant, more than accommodative, of you on various occasions when you speak up.
“Let me remind you, that at the very least, let’s retain the decorum of this debate whether you’re addressing myself or other members. Is that clear? You can sit down.”
Mr Leong then apologised to Mr Tan.
“MUDDYING THE WATERS”
Mr Leong and Mr Shanmugam also debated other related issues, including whether the minister was trying to “muddy the waters” by raising the Parti Liyani case as an example where a person was named while under investigation for lying under oath.
Mr Leong wrote in his Facebook post that “bringing up the Parti Liyani case is just another attempt to muddy the waters. So let us concentrate on the difference between the LHY (Lee Hsien Yang) and KOM (Keppel Offshore & Marine) cases”.
Mr Shanmugam said: “The essence of his statement is that I used an example, which is irrelevant, and that it was used to confuse Parliament.”
When asked by Mr Shanmugam, Mr Leong said that he did not accept that the Parti Liyani case was relevant to the discussion. He also said that the issue was about the Lee Hsien Yang case and the Keppel Offshore & Marine case, and there was no need to “bring in a new case”.
“When you bring in a new case, in a way, you are clouding the thinking of people. I didn’t say it’s irrelevant, I didn’t say you are confusing Parliament. Minister, don’t put words into my mouth,” he said.
To which, Mr Shanmugam said: “Sir, may I ask? What is the meaning of muddying the waters?”
“Speaker, now minister is testing whether I’m from a lousy school or not,” Mr Leong replied.
Mr Tan then explained that the debate was meant to clarify what Mr Leong meant by “muddying the waters” in his Facebook post. He also reiterated that the parliamentary debate should be done within the House and not carried on in a “one-dimensional way” outside.
“The question is you made a statement out in a Facebook post about ‘muddying waters’ and I think minister is asking what exactly do you mean. And there is no allegation about what school you come from, I’m sure you’re from a very good school,” said Mr Tan.
Mr Leong then explained what he meant by “muddying the waters”, and later added that the Parti Liyani case will cloud the judgment of other people, but insisted he was not “casting aspersions” on the minister.
He also asked Mr Shanmugam to elaborate again on why the phrase “muddying the waters” was an issue.
Mr Shanmugam repeated his reasons for raising the Parti Liyani case, then said: “If (the) member thought that that was not relevant, I am happy for a debate. I am not saying everyone has got to agree with what I said … Don’t be a coward, keep quiet here, say ‘it’s an attempt to muddy the waters’. That’s casting aspersions on me … that is not acceptable.”
Mr Shanmugam asked Mr Leong to withdraw his allegation that the Parti Liyani case was raised to “muddy the waters”, but Mr Leong said that he would not withdraw that statement.
After his exchange with Mr Leong, the minister said: “I take it that the Member does not withdraw the statements. We will then proceed to consider what the next steps ought to be.
“If at any time Member changes his mind, before a decision is reached, he can let us know.”
Responding to queries from CNA on whether Mr Leong had been referred to a committee looking into alleged breaches of parliamentary privilege, the Office of the Clerk of Parliament said on Wednesday evening: “At this time, no complaint has been made against any Member.”