Dr Tan Cheng Bock (Ayer Rajah): Mr Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the motion. I was a Member of the Select Committee on Health Care Subsidy and I sat through one of the longest Select Committee sessions I have ever attended. I came out feeling sad and disappointed that a person like Chee, with a doctorate, could act and behave in such a manner, unbecoming of a man of his standing as a lecturer and researcher.
Sir, from the very start, if you will remember, without seeking your permission, he took it upon himself the task of rearranging the seating arrangement laid out by Parliament. And this prompted you, Mr Speaker, to reprimand him and ordered him to refrain from such actions unless the Chair's permission is sought. But this behaviour reflected the arrogant attitude of the representor. Throughout the many sessions, there were attempts after attempts to show data, figures and charts that were
obviously incorrect or not substantiated. It is not necessary to go through all these as they were brought up by the Select Committee and previous speakers have already spoken on this subject, and the public is well aware of the obvious discrepancies and data presentation, especially the 5% typographical error. However, it is the indifferent attitude of the chief representor that caught many people's attention. He chose to ignore what is correct. The sad thing is that he sees no wrong in himself and he used a case or two of wrongful billing by the hospital to cast doubts on the hospital's policy of hospital charges. He insisted that the hospitals had created a pattern of over-charging or over-stating the bills, based on the case of Sunny Kow.
He attempts to accuse others of doing the very thing he did. This projection behaviour pattern comes out clearly in the above case of Sunny Kow. Although the Minister had told the Committee that the hospital had indeed made an error in the bill presentation and that Mr Sunny Kow need not have to pay more than what he needs to pay, the SDP chief representor refused to accept and insisted that the hospital had created a pattern of over-charging or over-stating the hospital bill. Yet he failed to see his own errors in the many charts, figures and data that were presented. He projected this type of behaviour to detract the Committee but, unfortunately, he was not successful.
Sir, in passing judgment on the four SDP representors, we face a section of Singaporeans who think that we are trying to do the Opposition in. It is not a question of whether these four people are Opposition members or not. It is clearly a question of what must be done to a group of people who swear to tell the truth in Parliament but clearly did not. We in Parliament must do what is right and correct, or this House would be taken too lightly by those who wish to present their case before Select Committees. In other words, we are dealing with the conduct of the representors, not their political affiliations.
Sir, my comments on Opposition MPs' behaviour carries less weight than those
coming from independent non-PAP sources. On 20th July 1996, I read in the Berita Harian an article which clearly tells you the character of Dr Chee. It was headlined Kecewa dengan sikap dan cara Dr Chee semasa perbahasan. Translated it means, "Disappointed with Dr Chee's attitude and manner during the debate." I will quote the translated version. It is very short:
`Disappointed with Dr Chee's attitude and manner during the debate - by Noraini Hamzah. I recorded Monday, July 15, as an important date in my diary because representatives of the Singapore Democratic Party were scheduled to speak in front of the Select Committee to study Government subsidies for hospitals and polyclinics. It gives the SDP's General Secretary, Dr Chee Soon Juan, and his colleagues the opportunity to explain their stand. I imagine the meeting to be serious as the SDP's allegations were grave. Were the allegations founded? The day I had been waiting for came, but I was disappointed. In following the 8-hour discussion on television in the reporters' room at Parliament House, I observed that Members of the Select Committee panel were obviously very serious in presenting their questions, views and statements. Nonetheless, I cannot say the same for Dr Chee who became the lone voice of the 4 SDP representatives there. My observation of Dr Chee was that he twisted his answers. He often deviated from the matters discussed, blamed others. He was dishonest in his answers and he did not observe the Select Committee proceedings. He often condemned the panel members. In short, he appeared to be playing politics through his answers. His conduct made it necessary for the Chairman of the Select Committee, Mr Tan Soo Khoon, to warn him on several occasions.'
She went on to discuss about the proceedings and she concluded, and I quote:
`The hearing went beyond 11 pm. Some people might consider Dr Chee a hero for being firm in his position, but I was quite fed up with Dr Chee's arrogance and his stubbornness in not admitting the mistakes in his figures. I was not the only one. My colleague who had all along respected Dr Chee stated, "I lost my respect for Dr Chee from today onwards." Was the SDP sincere in bringing up the issue of health care subsidies? I doubt it. As a former university lecturer, Dr Chee must have realised that an undergraduate would fail in his examinations if he distorted his answers or deviated from the questions asked.'
This is how she concluded:
`As a mother, can I tell my children that it is not wrong to be disrespectful and to distort answers? Certainly not.'
Mr Speaker, Sir, this was the observation of a newspaper reporter, not by the PAP. The comment reflected the feelings of someone who was present at the hearing. Yet, the latest paper of the SDP,
The New Democrat, sees a repetition of all the points brought up by the SDP representors. They obviously do not care and do not intend to hear the truth. This is not the correct way to change things. Change will come not with making political statements, but with sound alternatives that will win the hearts and minds of all educated Singaporeans.
Mr Speaker, Sir, Parliament is the highest institution in the land. It passes laws that affect every Singaporean. Therefore, it must be respected and obeyed. If politicians choose not to do so, then he or she must be reprimanded and appropriate punishment meted out. Politicians fight hard at every election to enter this Chamber and our behaviour and conduct in this House sets the tone for other Singaporeans. If we misbehave, then Singaporeans will not be proud of us and this country will suffer. Thus, if you remember, Sir, I chose not to speak at the last debate on the Select Committee's findings because you made a ruling that our speeches should not contain materials that will prejudice the findings of the Committee of Privileges. Mr Speaker, it is my respect for you and your ruling in Parliament that I choose to speak today instead.
Sir, I support the motion.
The motion, made by Minister Wong Kan Seng, reads as follows:
That this Parliament doth agree with the Committee of Privileges in their Report contained in Parl. 6 of 1996 and resolves --
(1) that Parliament impose on Dr Chee Soon Juan a fine of
(2) that Parliament impose on Mr Wong Hong Toy a fine of
(3) that Parliament impose on Mr S. Kunalen a fine of
(4) that Parliament impose on Mr Kwan Yue Keng a fine of