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‘We can’t simply write off and destroy people like this’: PM Lee says claims against Ivan Lim to be investigated

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has spoken publicly on the saga involving Ivan Lim, this time at a virtual press conference to unveil the candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC, which PM Lee is leading. 

In a reply to a question on candidate selection and Ivan Lim’s withdrawal following allegations made against him, Lee said: “I think if we look for the perfect candidate, we will lose many good men and women. 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’re able to clear themselves.”

“I think Ivan did the right thing to decide to withdraw, and not to have this election distracted by his case.

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“But I don’t think that should be the end of the matter, because we can’t let such serious things we said about somebody, and have somebody leave with a cloud permanently hanging over him and a question mark.”

PM Lee added that it would be “unfair to Ivan”, and “set a very damaging precedent” that one can condemn someone and “write him off” based on an internet campaign. 

“We don’t have time to settle it now but we can’t simply write off and destroy people like this. So after the elections, the party will investigate the veracity of the allegations against Ivan and we will come to a view on the matter,” said Lee. 

Thorough process in choosing candidates

In his response on the quality of candidates selected to join the party, Lee said the PAP has a “thorough process” in choosing its candidates, but added that “no process is perfect, no candidate is perfect”. 

He stated before this that “the assurance we have that these are good people and they are people who want to do good work for Singapore”. 

“We are putting together a team of man 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.”

Lee also said criticisms have been raised not just against Ivan Lim but also other candidates, most recently, against a new member of his AMK GRC team, Ng Ling Ling. 

“But I would say with social media it’s very easy now for issues to be picked up, for people to make criticisms, and for these criticisms to be circulated around and possibly gain currency whether or not they are founded. It’s not a new thing,” said Lee, citing the example of MP for MacPherson, Tin Pei Ling. 

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Tin, who first contested in the 2011 general election, was widely panned for contesting in Marine Parade GRC, where she was accused of riding on the coat-tails of then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong. What most would remember, however, was the hullabaloo generated over her “Kate Spade” Facebook photo — where she posed with a box containing a handbag that was a birthday present from her husband. 

Stating that Tin had “perservered”, Lee said the party continued to have confidence in her, and she has “held her ground amply” in the years since.  

Confirming that Tin will be standing in MacPherson SMC this year again, Lee said that now, “ I don’t see lots of people waiting to jump upon her.”

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