Workers' Party's Leon Perera says he is 'not involved' in operations of website facing police probe

Workers' Party (WP) Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera said he is not involved in the management and operations of socio-political site The Independent Singapore.
Workers' Party (WP) Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera said he is not involved in the management and operations of socio-political site The Independent Singapore. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Workers' Party (WP) Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera said he is not involved in the management and operations of socio-political site The Independent Singapore, which is being investigated for violations of Cooling-Off Day rules during the Bukit Batok by-election.

Mr Perera, who is on the WP's top decision-making central executive committee, also said on Thursday (June 2) that he is not a member of the website's board of directors.

He is, however, a minority shareholder whose role, he said, is limited to "providing occasional advice on long-term business strategy, not on editorial decisions or content".

His statement, which he posted on his Facebook page, comes a day after People's Action Party MP Tan Wu Meng made a comment about Mr Perera's links to The Independent Singapore.

Dr Tan, an MP for Jurong GRC, made the point in a Facebook post on Wednesday (June 1), when remarking on the WP's statement about the police probe into online posts made on Cooling-Off Day for the Bukit Batok by-election.

The WP had said it was concerned about the way police investigations were reportedly conducted, and urged the authorities to ensure consistency and proportionality are applied to all investigations.

 
 
 

Dr Tan, who said that the law should be allowed to run its course, noted that Mr Perera's links to The Independent Singapore "was not declared in WP's statement".

"Given this, WP should be aware that it could be seen as having an interest in the outcome of the investigation, and that every effort should be made by WP to avoid the impression that WP is trying to interfere with the investigation," he said.

Mr Perera, in his response on Thursday, said his involvement in the website was "a matter of public record" and that he had declared it in a previous interview with the news site Mothership.

Mr Perera is a shareholder of Protegesoft company, which owns The Independent Singapore. He is one of six shareholders in the company, and owns 2 million of the company's 8.51 million shares, according to official records.

He is also listed as a member of the website's advisory board. These advisers are not involved in operating the website.

At the Bukit Batok by-election, various individuals and sites published online posts in contravention of rules prohibiting election advertising on Cooling-Off Day, which fell on May 6, and on Polling Day on May 7.

The Elections Department said The Independent Singapore continued to post such material even after receiving a specific reminder from the Assistant Returning Officer not to do so.

"Given the blatant disregard of the (rules) in the Bukit Batok by-election, the Assistant Returning Officer decided to make police reports so that the police could investigate," the ELD said on Wednesday in a joint statement with the police.

Besides The Independent Singapore, blogger Roy Ngerng and former political detainee Teo Soh Lung are also being investigated as both also made posts on Cooling-Off Day in support of the Singapore Democratic Party candidate Chee Soon Juan.

Mr Ngerng and Ms Teo said on social media that they were interrogated for long hours by the police on Tuesday (May 31) and that their homes were also "raided". They added that their phones and computers were confiscated.

On Thursday (June2), a group of 141 activists and members of the public said in a statement posted online that they were "gravely concerned by the ongoing police investigations" into Mr Ngerng and Ms Teo.

The group said they were concerned about the seizure of the duo's personal belongings without a warrant, and the archiving of their personal data.

These actions are "completely disproportionate to any harm alleged to have been caused by the actions of Mr Ngerng and Ms Teo", the statement said, adding that it was not clear how rules on election advertising on Cooling-Off Day related to individuals.