1. Andrew Loh had written a piece (in TOC) yesterday entitled “When Leaders Apologise”, exploring how forgiving our leaders have been when they have been injured by others. In this post, I like to explore how willing our leaders have been in admitting their errors and apologizing when they know they are in the wrong after having injured others.

2. In 1981, Chiam See Tong (then Member for Potong Pasir) became the only opposition member ever to receive a public apology and out-of-court damages from a PAP leader. He had sued then foreign minister S. Dhanabalan for undermining his professional ability and competence at an election rally. Then defence minister Howe Yoon Chong, Chiam’s opponent in Potong Pasir, also made amends for having made similar remarks.

3. From this incident, then Ministers Dhanabalan and Howe Yoon Chong made some inappropriate remarks, apologized, and pay out-out-court damages. It shows our leaders have integrity and are willing to admit that they are in the wrong when need be.

4. Chiam went on to win his first election three years later on 1984, and subsequently win 5 more elections (1988, 1991, 1997, 2001, and 2006) to retain Potong Pasir SMC, with his votes peaking nearly at 70% at GE1991. Over the nearly two decades, the electorate had stood by Chiam. He raised many issues affecting Singaporeans and he didn’t get into any legal tussles for speaking up. He proved to be “marathon runner” in terms of speaking up for Singaporeans. (Read more at:

5. Turning back the focus to 2014, even as we hold our leaders to high standards, it is perplexing why some people prefer not to hold those who have aspirations to be Members of Parliament in the future to similarly high standards.

6. If one wants to explore on how forgiving our leaders are when they have been injured by others, I think we must not leave out the other side of the coin, that is how willing are our leaders in apologizing and paying up when they know that they had clearly committed libel. How does Roy fare when compared to the latter? You can judge!



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