WP did not call up Leon Perera’s driver for interview as there was no other source: Pritam
SINGAPORE - The Workers’ Party leadership did not call up the driver of former Aljunied GRC MP Leon Perera for an interview, after receiving messages from him about Mr Perera’s affair, said Leader of the Opposition and WP chief Pritam Singh in Parliament on Wednesday.
He was responding to questions from Mr Vikram Nair (Sembawang GRC) on why the driver was not called up for an interview, and whether steps were taken to protect the driver’s identity as an informant.
Mr Singh said: “There was no corroboratory information for us to work with. There was no other source. If either of these two criteria came into play, I think something different would have happened. We would have had to look into the matter more carefully, beyond what Mr Perera had shared to us.”
Mr Singh also answered no, when asked by Mr Vikram if the need to collate further corroborative evidence was conveyed to the driver.
Mr Singh had earlier, in response to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s ministerial statement addressing the resignation of two People’s Action Party MPs, said that he was prepared to answer questions about his own party’s handling of the indiscretion between his party members, if any.
In a July 19 press conference, Mr Singh had announced that Mr Perera and former senior party member Nicole Seah had resigned from the party, after lying about their affair.
On Wednesday, Mr Vikram said that normally in a proper organisation, when one receives information from a credible source who is close to the wrongdoing that something has happened, that would be treated as a whistleblower report.
Steps would then be taken to protect that person, who would be called up for further interviews, he said.
Mr Singh said the party had to deal with the information that was shared by the driver.
He said: “We made an assessment (of) the total circumstances with which the information was provided to us and as we found out after the fact, of course, that this person was a former police officer, with I think 10 years experience. I think this was in the (news)papers.
“I would have expected somebody close to Mr Perera, very close to Mr Perera, to have corroborating evidence at hand. I would have expected them, especially by him being a driver.”
On protecting the identity of the driver as an informant, Mr Singh noted that the driver had obtained the numbers of a “significant number” of WP members and circulated the allegations to them.
He said that he did not reveal the identity of the source, but had to check with Mr Perera on the information he had received.
Mr Vikram had asked him: “You mentioned that you did not tell Mr Perera. You did not reveal the source of information. How did you tell Mr Perera you came to know about his indiscretions - did you say the driver told you?”
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam also asked Mr Singh to clarify that he did not reveal the identity of the source to Mr Perera, citing Mr Singh’s comments at the WP’s press conference.
Mr Singh had said at the press conference that Mr Perera had told him he was in an ongoing dispute with his driver, and was about to terminate his services. Mr Perera said he had also sought legal advice on the allegations of his driver.
In response, Mr Singh said that the driver had been circulating the message, in his name, to multiple members of the WP.
“I don’t think he was interested in protecting his identity,” said Mr Singh.
“And so far as the question directed to me, like I said - the conversation (with) Mr Perera, Mr Perera would have known who that individual was, when I would have asked him. But I didn’t actively go and seek to do something nefarious.”