Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng attacked at Meet-the-People session, man arrested over incident

Dr Tan Wu Meng does not plan to beef up security at his Meet-the-People Session area, as he feels it is already quite secure, and he wants the area to remain accessible to residents.
Dr Tan Wu Meng does not plan to beef up security at his Meet-the-People Session area, as he feels it is already quite secure, and he wants the area to remain accessible to residents.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE - Jurong GRC MP Tan Wu Meng was attacked by a 32-year-old man during his Meet-the-People Session (MPS) in Clementi on Monday night (April 16).

Dr Tan told The Straits Times he was talking to a resident at around 10pm when a young man suddenly rushed over and began hitting him with his fists.

"One moment I was speaking to that resident and the next thing I knew, someone was hitting me and I found myself on the floor," he said.

Other residents and volunteers managed to quickly restrain the attacker, but Dr Tan suffered bruises on his arm and abrasions on his neck.

The police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force arrived and advised Dr Tan to go to a hospital.

"There were a handful of residents who had not seen the MP yet, so I made sure I saw them before I went to hospital. I wasn't keen to go but the police and SCDF advised me I should be evaluated at the A&E (Accident and Emergency department)," he said.

The attacker was arrested by the police for criminal trespass. The police are also investigating him for voluntarily causing hurt to an MP.

 

Writing in a Facebook post on Tuesday, Dr Tan said: " Police are investigating. But whatever the outcome under the law, I hope he can get back on track and will try to help him do so."

After his check-up at the National University Hospital on Monday night, Dr Tan said he returned to the MPS to continue writing appeal letters for residents - including his attacker.

"This gentleman had only come to the MPS once before, about a year ago, and we didn't get a chance to interview him this time before he started hitting me, but we were able to piece together what his current problem is," he said.

" I can't share what it is, but we wrote an appeal for him anyway last night. So I also hope whatever difficulties he's facing, he finds his way and things work out for him."

While such an incident had never happened to him before, Dr Tan said that as a public servant, he was always aware that such things could occur.

"The work continues," he added.

Dr Tan, a medical oncologist, does not plan to beef up security at his MPS area as he feels it is already quite secure, and he wants the area to remain accessible to residents.

"Our interview area is what we call an open form area, it's a room with many tables where many volunteers meet residents at the same time and I go table to table to meet as many residents as possible," he said.

"So when something happens, there is always someone nearby. We also have CCTV cameras in the room already, so the incident was captured on camera."

Fellow Jurong GRC MP and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that it was "very unfortunate that this happened - and completely unacceptable".

"Dr Tan Wu Meng and his volunteers handled it well. Police are investigating. But as Wu Meng says, we will find a way to help this young man get back in life eventually," Mr Tharman wrote.

"I know Wu Meng puts much personal effort into every individual case, every resident who needs support. He will not be deterred."

PAP whip Chan Chun Sing added in a statement on Tuesday that Dr Tan's calm handling of the incident helped to reassure his volunteers and residents.

"This is a stark reminder of the risks that our MPs have to manage in the course of our public duties. We would also like to thank our many volunteers who work tirelessly as a team to serve our residents and take care of each other," he said.

In a statement, the police said the 32-year-old man will be charged in court on Wednesday (April 18).

The Straits Times understands he was previously involved in drug-related offences.

If convicted of criminal trespass, he can be jailed for up to three months, fined up to $1,500 or both.

If convicted of voluntarily causing hurt, he may be jailed up to two years, fined up to $5,000, or both.

There have been previous cases of Members of Parliament being attacked. In 2009, then Yio Chu Kang MP Seng Han Thong was handing out hongbao to needy and elderly people at a grassroots event in his constituency when a man ran up behind him, splashed paint thinner down his back and set fire to him.

Mr Seng was also attacked in 2006, at an MPS session, where he was punched by a 74-year-old cabby who was upset with him as he believed the MP was not helping him to get his revoked taxi licence back.