Ex-driver says he tried to stop Leon Perera’s affair with Nicole Seah
He thought of Mr Leon Perera as a son, and was desperate to stop the Workers’ Party (WP) MP’s affair with senior leader Nicole Seah.
Mr Frankie Wong, 80, who was Mr Perera’s driver for more than a decade, contacted WP chief Pritam Singh some time around late 2020 and early 2021.
Speaking to The Straits Times after the two party leaders’ resignation was announced by Mr Singh at a WP press conference on Wednesday, Mr Wong said: “I called Pritam and told him Leon was having an affair with that woman (Ms Seah), and asked him help put an end to it.”
“All Pritam said was okay and hung up,” he added.
Mr Wong said he and Mr Perera had talked before about politicians whose careers had been ended by scandal and he did not want the same thing to happen to the man he had seen rise from the ranks of the party.
Mr Wong had initially spoken to the media about the affair on the condition of anonymity.
But the whistleblower agreed to be identified following the press conference by the WP on Wednesday.
Mr Wong’s only condition was that his photo not be published.
He said he never wanted to hurt Mr Perera, and was initially hopeful the WP leadership would take action and help Mr Perera by getting him to end the relationship.
Instead, what he saw from his point of view appeared to be inaction for months, followed by a sudden termination of his employment in March 2021.
Mr Wong had told other members of the WP about the affair, including MPs Gerald Giam, Dennis Tan and Jamus Lim, as well as party chairman Sylvia Lim.
But he said none of them had contacted him for more details.
He said: “Why didn’t they just sit all three of us down together and talk? No one from the WP leadership followed up with me.”
At the press conference, Mr Singh said that after he was informed of the affair by “Leon’s driver”, he had asked Mr Perera what was going on between him and Ms Seah.
Mr Perera denied the allegations, and claimed that there was an ongoing dispute between him and Mr Wong, Mr Singh said.
Similarly, when Ms Seah was approached by other WP leaders, she too denied that there was anything going on, he added.
Mr Singh said he did not know Mr Wong personally, and that there was “no evidence or corroboratory information” at the time to support the allegations of an affair.
He added that it was unacceptable that Mr Perera had not been honest with the party leadership when questioned about it.
Mr Wong said he was disappointed with how the WP leadership had handled the scandal.
As Mr Perera’s driver from 2010 to 2021, Mr Wong had watched his employer climb the ranks of the WP and become an MP.
Prior to driving for Mr Perera, Mr Wong had been with the Singapore Police Force for just over a decade and then helped at his brother’s business in supplying electrical equipment.
He said he saw Mr Perera as a son, and was disappointed when he saw him hugging and holding hands with Ms Seah.
“I remember how we once talked about David Ong, and he said it was stupid for politicians to get into affairs, losing everything because of a woman,” he said.
“But in the end, he himself got into one.”
Mr Ong was a People’s Action Party MP for Bukit Batok who resigned in 2016 over an affair with another member of the party.
Asked why he had come forward to expose the affair, Mr Wong said he did not want the same fate for Mr Perera.
“MPs are leaders who are supposed to set an example, and this affair was wrong. I just wanted them to make Leon stop the affair,” he said.
“I raised the issue with Pritam and the other leaders so they could help Leon. But no one believed me. Sylvia had even said to me that it was an issue to be settled between employer (Mr Perera) and employee (Mr Wong).”
Mr Wong said he also told Mr Perera’s mother about the affair after he was terminated, and that she had broken down crying in front of him.
He said it was a pity that Mr Perera is now out of politics.
“Leon is actually a nice guy, he treated me very well,” he said.
Mr Singh had told the media on Wednesday that after the video of Mr Perera and Ms Seah behaving intimately emerged on Monday, the pair had admitted to the affair.
He said: “Both of them admitted that they had an affair which started after the general election of 2020, but that it had stopped some time ago.”
Pressed further for a clearer timeline of the relationship and when it ended, he said he did not have a fixed date, but that it had stopped “shortly thereafter”.
Mr Wong said the WP had taken too long to deal with the matter, and appeared to have taken action only after the video emerged.
However, he said he was not the one who had released the video, and does not know who took it, or where and when it was taken.
“I know some WP members think that I am the one who released the video, and some people online have also been blaming me for Leon’s situation, saying I wanted revenge,” he said.
“But I have nothing to do with the video, and I’ve never wanted to hurt Leon.”
Mr Wong said he does not hate Mr Perera, and instead feels sorry for his family and hopes they can heal.
“I don’t hate Leon. I hate the party leaders who didn’t help Leon when I told them about the matter, and even until now none of them have contacted me,” he said.
“Now Leon’s future is destroyed.”