Tan Chuan-Jin apologises to Parliament for 'very regrettable' hot mic incident: Indranee Rajah

He also "unreservedly withdraw" the comment he directed at WP MP Jamus Lim.

Fiona Tan | August 02, 2023, 07:10 PM

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On Aug. 2, 2023, former Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin apologised to Parliament through Leader of the House Indranee Rajah.

A "very regrettable incident"

Indranee read out Tan's apology to the Parliament on his behalf as the former People's Action Party (PAP) MP has resigned and is no longer a member of the house.

She was addressing the unparliamentary "f*cking populist" comment that Tan muttered after Workers' Party MP Jamus Lim delivered his speech in Parliament on Apr. 17, 2023.

She said that it is incumbent of MPs to uphold proper standards of conduct and that this is especially so for Tan, who was the Speaker of Parliament and has the duty of ruling on the conduct of other members.

She added that rude and unparliamentary language, and expletives in particular, certainly do not meet the standards expected of all members and lower the dignity and decorum of the house.

Actions to be taken: Withdraw comment and apologise

Next, Indranee addressed how the "hot mic incident" should be dealt with.

She raised a few examples, such as an incident in 1995 which saw a complaint against the late Singapore Democratic Party MP Ling How Doong alleged that he described another MP's speech in vulgar terms, called the other MP a word questioning the legitimacy of his birth and referred to him using an anatomical term.

She also listed another unparliamentary moment involving Nominated MP Ong Soh Khim in Singapore in 2005, as well as similar unparliamentary moments in Australia and New Zealand.

Indranee drew from these examples that a withdrawal of the "unparliamentary" comment and an apology will be appropriate to "put the matter right".

Tan's apology

And this was the same with regard to Tan.

Indranee noted Tan's public and personal apologies but said she is of the view that it is necessary for him to withdraw his comment and make a formal apology in Parliament as that was where he made the comment.

She said she communicated this to Tan and he readily agreed to do so and asked her to read his apology on his behalf as he is no longer a MP.

As read by Indranee, Tan said in his apology:

"I unreservedly withdraw the comment directed at Associate Professor Jamus Lim, and sincerely apologise to the house for the unparliamentary language that I used, and for not respecting the dignity and decorum of the house."

@mothershipsg Tan Chuan-Jin said in his apology he "unreservedly withdraw" the comment he directed at WP MP Jamus Lim #sgnews #tiktoksg #sgparliament ♬ original sound - Mothership

No further action needed

With this, and Tan's two previous apologies, Indranee said no further action is needed as Tan had taken the necessary steps to redress the incident, and this matter can be brought to a close.

"I wish to conclude with a reminder to all members on the need to maintain proper decorum and to behave in a courteous manner in this house, even as we engage in robust debates on issues of public significance.

Not all of us may share the same views on the matters debated, but we can agree to disagree and to do so in a manner that meets the standards of decorum and propriety required of a legislative chamber that is the representative of the people."

Pritam suspicious of "hot mic" video circumstances

Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh asked Indranee if she would consider making a police report on the clip that brought to light Tan's unparliamentary comment.

Reddit clip brought Tan's comment to light

A Jul. 10, 2023 Reddit post uploaded a clip of the Apr. 17, 2023 Parliament session and pointed out that Tan had muttered the unparliamentary remarks.

Indranee referred to the video in Parliament on Aug. 2, 2o23 and suggested that the sound of Tan's comment had been "amplified" to be more audible in the clip on the Reddit post.

She added that while Tan's comment was not audible to members who were present in the chamber at the time, nor was it fully audible on the normal live stream, it is undisputed that he had made the comment.

Singh said timing of clip "suspicious"

Noting Indranee's point that the Reddit clip's sound was amplified, Singh asked Indranee if she would consider referring the matter to the police to uncover the identity of the person who posted the clip.

After Indranee replied that amplification per se is not an offence, Singh clarified that he found the timing of the clip "suspicious".

The clip was uploaded three months after Tan made the comment in Parliament, and shortly before the revelation of his "inappropriate relationship" with Tampines Group Representation Constituency (GRC) MP Cheng Li Hui.

In this regard, Singh further clarified that he was not suggesting that the authorities look into a specific offence, but the total circumstances of how that video came to be circulated in public, especially since it involved a senior member of government and Speaker of Parliament.

He added that some individuals have asked him if this was a false flag –  a harmful event or action designed to appear as though it was perpetrated by someone other than the person or group responsible for it.

In response, Indranee said one should do so if there were "credible material" to be referred to the police.

"I think Mr Singh is aware that one only refers matters for investigation by the police if an offence has been committed."

@mothershipsgPritam Singh, Sylvia Lim query Indranee Rajah on former Speaker's hot mic incident #tiktoksg #sgnews♬ original sound - Mothership

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