Shanmugam Says Brad Bowyer Is Avoiding Question Over Alleged Nee Soon GRC “Trade” With RP
On Wednesday (1 Jul), Law and Home Minister K Shanmugam took part in a press conference for his Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency (GRC). There, he called the Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP’s) challenge there “half-hearted”, because it offered to trade the GRC for some other constituency last week.
Mr Brad Bowyer, one of PSP’s candidates for Nee Soon, has since dismissed Mr Shanmugam’s allegations as rumours, and said his team has been planning a campaign in the GRC since mid-April.
To that, Mr Shanmugam has asked Brad Bowyer to “be honest”.
For those who may be confused by this saga, here’s a chronological timeline of events.
MS News, Source
1. 24 Jun: Reform Party agrees to cede grounds to PSP
On 24 Jun, a day after the 2020 General Election (GE) was called, the Reform Party (RP) released on Facebook a statement from its chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam, backing out from the contest in West Coast GRC and leaving the area to the PSP.
This was after long talks with PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock, he said.
In his statement, he also said PSP has “offered to withdraw from various grounds they were originally eyeing, in return for Reform Party ceding West Coast (GRC)”.
He also said,
We are pleased to accept their proposal with the exception of Yishun (GRC) which we will not contest.
2. 25 Jun: ST report says PSP offered to cede Nee Soon GRC
In a report by The Straits Times on 25 Jun, detailing RP’s withdrawal in West Coast GRC, it quoted My Jeyaretnam as saying that “PSP also offered to cede Nee Soon GRC, but RP decided not to contest it”.
The same ST article also quotes a PSP spokesman as saying that the PSP will still be contesting Nee Soon GRC.
3. 1 Jul: Shanmugam calls PSP “half-hearted”
During a press conference on Wednesday (1 Jul), Mr Shanmugam calls PSP “half-hearted” in contesting Nee Soon GRC, because it had offered to trade it with the RP.
Mr Shanmugam also questioned PSP’s interest in the GRC, adding,
Not sure how much the interest or commitment is, I’m saying this just based on a week ago they seemed to be unsure whether they wanted to give it up or not.
Image by MS News
4. 1 Jul: Brad Bowyer says “trade” allegations are online rumours
He also brought up the existence of “rumours being spread online” that Nee Soon GRC might have been “horse traded”.
Mr Bowyer said that his team has been preparing to campaign in Nee Soon GRC since the electoral boundaries report came out, and have been working the ground for nearly a month.
He also mentioned that during Channel NewsAsia’s (CNA’s) “live” Nomination Day coverage, it initially said that PSP might not be contesting in Nee Soon GRC. This was because the nomination papers were not on the board. Later, CNA said PSP would be contesting, and the nomination papers had been put up on the board.
5: 1 Jul: Shanmugam says Bowyer should be honest
Mr Shanmugam responded with a Facebook post on the same day.
He referenced the ST article on 25 Jun, which said that PSP had offered Nee Soon GRC to the RP.
According to Mr Shanmugan, PSP hadn’t denied his claim at that point.
On Mr Bowyer’s response that called the purported trade a rumour, Mr Shanmugam said Mr Bowyer should be honest with Nee Soon voters.
Implying that Mr Bowyer didn’t give a straight answer, Mr Shanmugam reiterated his question: Did PSP offer Nee Soon to the RP, as what Mr Jeyaretnam was quoted as saying?
6. 1 Jul: Bowyer stands his ground
Late on Wednesday (1 Jul), Mr Bowyer responded on Facebook again, pointing out that the ST article on 25 Jun did include a quote from a PSP spokesman.
That spokesman said PSP will still be contesting Nee Soon GRC, which Mr Bowyer said is “pretty clear”.
However, he qualified that party chief Dr Tan is usually cagey over final strategy. He also said that he is “not privy to the highest-level negotiations”.
Mr Bowyer then again pointed out that his team has spent a lot of time and resources on Nee Soon GRC in the last months. He also said that he was assigned to the GRC in mid-April and has only been working there.
7. 2 Jul: Shanmugam also stands his ground
In a Facebook post early on Thursday (2 Jul) morning, Mr Shanmugam again called for Brad Bowyer to be honest.
In fact, he went so far as to say that Mr Bowyer’s answer was dishonest.
According to Mr Shanmugam, Mr Bowyer’s claim that he is “not privy to the highest-level negotiations”, and his spiel about his hard work in Nee Soon, is known as “avoidance”.
Saying his question is simple, Mr Shamugam asked it again: Did PSP offer Nee Soon to the PSP?
He also asked other questions: Didn’t Mr Bowyer ask or wonder when news broke about Nee Soon being offered to RP?
He asked Mr Bowyer to credit people with more intelligence, and implied that people will not believe his story.
He also asked Dr Tan directly: Why is the candidate that he hand-picked saying things that are untrue?
8: 2 Jul: Leong Mun Wai says no horse-trading agreement
Finally, just hours about Mr Shanmugam’s post, PSP assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai released a statement on Facebook about Nee Soon GRC.
He said that he was the person who was directly responsible for discussion with all the other opposition parties, and stated unequivocally that there was “no horse-trading agreement or negotiation” with RP over Nee Soon GRC or any other constituencies.
He also added that since there were many opposition parties eyeing a limited number of seats,
…various ideas were tossed up in the course of discussion but that does not mean they were accepted even as a basis for negotiation.
Again, he said that the Nee Soon team has prepared for months.
He concluded that people should concentrate on the issues that can improve the lives of Nee Soon residents.
Is the matter now at rest?
Mr Bowyer has shared Mr Leong’s statement, saying he hoped it would put the matter to rest?
Is the matter now settled, or will there be more allegations to come?
We’ll keep you updated.