Member of Parliament Intan Azura Mokhtar said yesterday that she did write a letter of appeal regarding Mr Yang Yin's application for permanent residency (PR) here. But she did so only at the behest of Madam Chung Khin Chun.
Questions had been raised over the former China tour guide's role in the Jalan Kayu Neighbourhood Committee, after pictures of him at various grassroots activities surfaced online. The People's Association confirmed that he had been a member of the neighbourhood committee since July 5 last year but resigned on Sept 8 this year.
Dr Intan, who is an MP in Ang Mo Kio GRC and adviser to the committee, said she did not know Mr Yang personally. She recalls meeting him only when he was participating in a cooking activity.
She does remember the time Madam Chung approached her.
"She first came to see me and sought my help in May 2011... for her grandson," said Dr Intan. "This is what she told me and I referred Madam Chung's request to the authorities." She said she responded only because Madam Chung was "a resident of my constituency and a Singaporean".
"If Mr Yang had come to me, I wouldn't be able to help him because he's not a Singaporean," she said. "What I would have told him is that you probably can apply for PR to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority directly."
Dr Intan also said she later received a piece of "feedback" on Mr Yang. She did not reveal the nature of the feedback as there are ongoing court proceedings concerning Mr Yang, but said it was forwarded to the authorities the same day.
Dr Intan also explained why she had initially referred to Mr Yang as a grassroots "leader", when asked about him two weeks ago. She said she considers all grassroots volunteers "grassroots leaders", reiterating that Mr Yang "did not hold a key position... he was just an ordinary member".
In recent days, Dr Intan's Facebook page has been inundated with questions about Mr Yang. Some claimed that she had gone into "Internet hiding" by not addressing the questions and making her Facebook page private.
When asked if comments about Mr Yang had been deleted from her Facebook page, she said the staff administering the site may have done so and she does not know what "Internet hiding" is.
Dr Intan also made it clear that only citizens and PRs can join the grassroots, although others can help out as ad-hoc volunteers. When asked if taking part in these ad-hoc activities can help in an application for permanent residency, she said that was up to the immigration authorities.
When contacted last night, Madam Chung said she remembered seeing Dr Intan "a few years ago", but could not recall what was discussed.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, the ICA made it clear that volunteering in grassroots organisations is not part of its criteria when assessing applications for PR and citizenship.
It said: "Applications for Singapore Permanent Residence or Singapore Citizenship (SC) are evaluated on a range of factors including family ties, qualifications, income and length of stay in Singapore. While volunteering in community service such as with PA grassroots organisations had been suggested as a possible criterion, it has not been part of ICA's criteria when assessing SC or SPR applications. Each application will be assessed on its own merits."
The ICA also added: "Individuals who provide false information in their applications for immigration facilities will be dealt with firmly under the law. In addition, they will have their immigration facilities cancelled or revoked."
CAROLYN KHEW, TOH YONG CHUAN