PAP has confidence in its candidate selection process: PM Lee

This article is more than 12 months old

The People's Action Party (PAP) has confidence in its candidate selection process and will stand by its candidates as long as it is satisfied they are fit for the role, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

"If problems come up, we will look at them," PM Lee told reporters when introducing the Ang Mo Kio GRC team that he is leading. "You can never say that nothing is there, and if something turns out to be there, we have to deal with it.

"And if nothing is there, then we back our candidate, and he or she must know that if they've done nothing wrong, if they are straight and open and candid with the party, and we know what is the truth, and we are satisfied that he is fit to be a candidate, we will stand by him and we will defend him."

PM Lee, who is secretary-general of the PAP, was responding to a question on Mr Ivan Lim, 42, who was introduced as a candidate last Wednesday but has since withdrawn his candidacy following online allegations about his past behaviour.

The party, he added, chooses, assesses and vets its candidates through a thorough process. But he acknowledged that no process or candidate is perfect.

PM Lee said: "We are putting together a team of men and women with varied backgrounds and experiences.

"They've been knocked about, they've learnt about life, they've made mistakes along the way, and hopefully have learnt from them."

Online criticism has also been levelled at other PAP candidates, including Temasek enterprise development director Shawn Huang and former Community Chest managing director Ng Ling Ling. Social media attacks are "not a new thing", pointed out PM Lee.

"I think if we look for the perfect candidate, we will lose many good men and women," he added. "And if we encourage a culture of trial by Internet, then we will not find anybody willing to stand and put themselves and their families through this ordeal, even if at the end of it they are able to clear themselves."

PM Lee said Mr Lim did the right thing to withdraw and not let the controversy be a distraction at the polls from more serious issues. But the party will investigate the veracity of the allegations when the election is over, he added.

"We can't let such serious things be said about somebody and have somebody leave with a cloud permanently hanging over him, and a question mark," PM Lee said. "It would set a very damaging precedent that you can condemn somebody and write him off on the basis of an Internet campaign."