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Pritam Singh: Motion to suspend Transport Minister, premature – Singapore News

“… the wheels of justice must be allowed to fully turn before Parliament decides what to do,” he added

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SINGAPORE: The Workers’ Party MPs were among the parliamentarians who voted against the motion proposed by Progress Singapore Party Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa to suspend Transport Minister S Iswaran on Tuesday (Sept 19).

Calling Ms Poa’s motion premature, he pointed out that “we do not even know the details of what Mr Iswaran is accused of” and warned of the implications if the motion were allowed to proceed. “In the Workers’ Party view, the wheels of justice must be allowed to fully turn before Parliament decides what to do,” said WP chief and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh.

“Parliament should be mindful of the dictum of presumption of innocence. With respect, I would also request the PSP colleagues in this House to consider the precedent their motion would create should a future government decide to fix opposition MPs by way of politically motivated investigations.”

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The Transport Minister is currently being investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and was asked by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to take a leave of absence while the probe is ongoing.

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Earlier this month, Ms Poa filed a motion to suspend Mr Iswaran from Parliament, cutting off his allowance as an MP as he is not performing his duties.

In response, the Leader of the House, Indranee Rajah, filed a counter-motion to consider the matter when the outcome of the ongoing investigations against Mr Iswaran is known.

Ms Indranee’s counter-motion was passed in Parliament, as all the MPs from the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the eight opposition MPs from the Workers’ Party (WP) voted for it. Only the PSP’s Non-Constituency MPs – Ms Poa and Mr Leong Mun Wai – voted for their motion.

However, the Leader of the Opposition raised the issue of the allowance for an MP put on leave of absence by his Party leader.

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“While it is not appropriate to suspend Mr Iswaran from Parliament, it may well be appropriate to suspend the payment of his MP’s allowance. WP MP Dennis (Tan) raised this matter of Mr Iswaran’s MP allowance in Parliament last month,” said Mr Singh.

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Noting that “there is disquiet amongst members of the public” as Mr Iswaran continues to collect his allowance, Mr Singh raised a second point of what Parliament should do when an MP has effectively been interdicted from his duties due to actions taken by his party leader.

He then asked what the full extent of restrictions on Mr Iswaran as an MP are, whether there will be a “clawback” of his MP allowance for the period when he has not performed his duties as an MP, and whether the House would consider the matter of dealing with him once investigations are done and a decision made on whether to charge him or would this be after the full court process has been exhausted. /TISG

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